Between The Painted Lines: Finding My Place En Plein Air

Edited and republished from Oct. 25, 2009

When I go out driving, looking for places to set up my easel and paint, I very often start feeling quite claustrophobic. The roadways keep me nice and tidy between the painted lines. I feel like a mouse running through a maze, who must turn this way or that, with my path already set before me. There’s no veering off the appointed way, no more Walden.

Beach Colors by MTMcClanahan

Land is either public or it’s private and, it seems around here, the private land has the better views. Oft times you can’t see nature past the condos and villas, like the mouse can’t see above the walls of it’s maze. And I’m a little gun shy now, even on public property, after having been removed from the bridge overlooking the Morehead City port (FYI–they don’t like you photographing the port).

I’ve concluded that there are two places yet to be claimed–still relatively free to explore–the sea and the air. What a neat trick it would be to complete a painting while sky diving; it would give new meaning to the term “en plein air”. But, until I get up enough nerve to jump out of an airplane, that one is on the back burner for now.

Kayak on Bogue Sound

Presently I’m focusing my efforts on getting on the water with my kayak set up for painting en plein air. There are fishing kayaks, ocean kayaks, recreational and white water kayaks; why not a painting kayak! I should be able to get to just about anywhere I want to on the water without worrying about trespassing on private property. Free at last!

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Marcus, the painting of the Condos is just elegant and wonderful. You know if I had a wall to my name, I would endeavor to buy that painting! That’s how much I love it. Not sure where you found that, but it reminds me of what may be rare to find after Sandy hit the east coast of the US. The backsides of shore places…I can smell the salt and picture the towels and bathing suits flapping in the breeze. The colors are absolutely lovely. Kudos kudos!

    Admiringly, Susan

    • Thank you Susan. I’m not far from the coast–Atlantic Beach, NC (the city). I like to paint the “backsides” of things–what I mean is what Hensche called “mud heads”–things with back lighting. So it could actually be the front or face but would be in shadow. There’s always more color in the shadows isn’t there?

  2. elenaslc9 says:

    Light and shadow just right… beautiful expression emotions in colors and obviously rich texture, which like so much.
    Great pairing, Marcus! Love it.

    • “Emotions in colors”, I like that Elena! I think “texture” is an element sometimes overlooked by the artist–but it can be expressed in many ways I think–not just a tactile “thing” but coloration, value, etc. Thank you for reminding me of that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *