OPS was formed to create opportunities and incentives for artists of like mind to come together and paint ...........En Plein Air



Visit often to read about various topics including plein air tips and exhibition reviews. 

Posts are authored by OPS members and guest artists.

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  • November 19, 2014 3:22 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    OPS member Jason Sacran's career is skyrocketing upward at warp speed and those of us that know him and his work are proud of his success, but not surprised.  His talent is huge.  Jason was PASW 2014 Honorable Mention winner this last April.  Recently, OPS Signature member, John Pototschnick interviewed Jason and we'd like to share it with you.


    John Pototschnick's lead-in comment to his interview with Jason Sacran:

    "When I think of Jason Sacran and his good buddy, John Lasater, I think of two plein air painters who enter tons of plein air competitions and always drive away with a car load of awards. I jokingly advise any artist to stay home if they’re even remotely considering entering an event in which these guys are going to participate…or if you do compete, don’t expect anything more than scrapes after they’ve picked the bones clean.

    I’m kidding of course, but if you were to look at Sacran’s success rate in 2013 alone, you would discover that he won over 30 awards and could possibly hit that number again this year. The guy is a hard working painting machine and I am honored that he agreed to this interview. How he manages to do all that he does is beyond me."


    Click this link to read this in-depth "conversation" between John and Jason...


  • September 13, 2014 8:26 AM | Margaret Griffith

    Houston Plein Air Painters

    Margaret Griffith and Paula Winter are starting an outdoor painting group in the Houston area.  The concept is "fun painting" where we will meet the first Tuesday and the third Thursday of each month.  Locations will be within the city limits or at nearby rural locations.  We will be concentrating on painting at nonprofit locations such as Katy Prairie, Buffalo Bayou, Urban Harvest Gardens, as well as private gardens and ranches.  

    We will limit our outings to ap. 12 painters per location so signing up will be necessary.  If you would like to join the group please contact Margaret at mhgriffithartist@gmail.com 

    We will start this October 7.

    All mediums welcome.

    No dues at this point.

    Location suggestions, welcome!

    Thanks - Margaret and Paula

  • April 13, 2014 7:14 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    With his permission, we are sharing a recent interview with Jill Carver by OPS Signature member, John Pototschnik - Posted on John’s blog - April 6, 201

    “I think the strongest paintings are the ones that have the simplest ideas behind them. It’s very easy to be dazzled by a vista, and then you wind up doing six paintings in one. To me, it’s more important to keep the idea as simple as possible, to make the message clear. Each piece should be an iconic celebration of its subject.”

    Jill Carver’s work is distinctly different today from just a few years ago. When I first became aware of her work, she was exhibiting in the Outdoor Painters Society “Plein Air Southwest Salon”, and if I remember correctly, received one of the top awards.

    It’s a curiosity to see one change their style so dramatically in such a short time. An explanation for this may be found in the clarity in which she is able to envision the type artist she wants to be. Rather than being almost exclusively a plein air painter, she now divides her time almost equally between the studio and outdoors. This has forced her to think more deeply and prepare more thoroughly. That combination has led to very distinctive statements on canvas…simple, clear messages executed in a way that appears fearless, decisive, and bold. “I just want to get better as a painter”, she says. “In my head, I’m six months in advance of what’s coming out at the end of the paintbrush. There’s always a sense of chasing to catch up. That’s what gets me up every day.”

    It’s a pleasure to bring you this thoughtful interview with Jill Carver:  CLICK HERE to download & read!


  • April 08, 2014 8:13 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    What a show of talent! Southwest Art Gallery was packed with artists, visitors and collectors in anticipation of the awards presentation Saturday afternoon, April 5th!  Click HERE to see the complete list of award winners.  Watch for a complete write-up with photos in the next newsletter - and.... the PASW page will be updated soon with images of the winning paintings.  

    Meanwhile, a huge shout-out to the hard-working and dedicated OPS members that contributed to the success of this annual event:  LaNell Arndt, Tina Bohlman, Randy Saffle, Kaye Franklin, Beverly Boren, Marchita Priest, Jimmy Longacre, Southwest Art Gallery staff,  Awards Juror Jill Carver, and last but not least, the PASW artists! 



  • March 21, 2014 6:25 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    A big shout-out to Nancy Boren!!  Her painting, "Aloft in the Western Sky "- won 2nd place in the February. 2014 Bold Brush competition.    Congratulations Nancy!  Well done!

  • March 11, 2014 7:25 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)


    Back in 1996 Bruce Peil and Dave Bates were sitting in Bruce’s living room lamenting the fact that even though most of the artists they knew were often heard saying - “We should get together and paint outdoors sometime” - it hardly ever happened. So the two of them came up with the idea to start a group dedicated to outdoor painting….and the “Society of Outdoor Painters” was formed.  A short time later the group changed the name to OPS (Outdoor Painters Society) but originally it was the “SOP”.

    Dave & Bruce got together with a mutual friend, Marian Hirsch, and worked out what was needed to do to get the ball rolling and the group had their first outing October 5, 1996 at the home of Jerry and Suzanne Owens on Lake Texhoma. Originally, OPS had nine charter members at that first outing: Bruce Peil, Dave Bates, Jerry and Suzanne Owens, Marian Hirsch, Jim Rozek, Chuck Rawle, Ken Barry and Barbara Park.

    The group continued to paint together with just a handful of members for a while, until their paint out at White Rock Lake in Dallas. This paint out is where they were “discovered” by a reporter for the Dallas Morning News who thought the group might make a good story. The paper covered their next outing and the article appeared the following weekend.  “After that the membership took off and started growing faster than we could keep up”, Dave said. Bruce agreed; he said, “We put a cap of 100 on the size and established a waiting list. After a while we removed the cap and the membership took off again”.

    According to Dave & Bruce, the original purpose was to simply provide incentive and opportunity to artists who wanted to paint together en plein air and they adhered to that philosophy for several years. But, after opening up the membership and as it grew, a number of members indicated they’d like the group to become more professional, so the idea was put before the membership. “We received a significant feedback of negative opinion” said Dave. “About half (according to a formal survey) wanted to keep it casual, so we backed off those plans.” Bruce added, “we actually had some members drop out when they saw we wanted the group to become a more professional organization.” But the idea didn’t go away. “In spite ourselves”, Bruce reflected, “OPS began to gain a national reputation so we re-organized, establishing officer positions, a board of directors and signature/associate memberships”. “And, as the saying goes, the rest is history”, Bruce said with a grin.

    Dave’s primary contributions during those early years were keeping the membership rolls on a computer, establishing a newsletter (paper at first, then electronic) and a website (with help from Fran Ellisor).  Bruce was the treasurer.  He collected the dues and kept a log of who had paid and when, as well as new members who joined during the year. Then he sent a copy of the paid members to Dave to be entered into the computer. Both Bruce & Dave planned the monthly outings.

    A few years ago Dave & Bruce decided to take a rest and let the “new blood” contribute new ideas. “Good decision”, Dave said. “We both were becoming too busy with other responsibilities. The officers who have been running the OPS since then have been moving the ball forward in new and exciting ways. I have to say that the opportunity to help get this group started has been a wonderful experience. I have had some really great times with the group and made some wonderful friends through it. So it has been all good for me and Bruce as well.”

    All good things take time” – is a saying that everyone has heard and there is no doubt that Dave & Bruce “getting together” to paint on location was a “good thing”. OPS is now a nationally known plein air artists organization with a membership of over 300 members.


    First OPS outing - Co-founders seated L to R: Bruce Peil & Dave Bates


    ......And it all started with two good friends with a passion for painting en plein air. Thanks, Dave & Bruce – your “idea” was a good one!

  • March 09, 2014 9:30 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    Note:  The following is an excerpt from a blog post by John Pototschnick.


    Has plein air painting become the new impressionism?

    When I began my fine art career in the early 80′s, Impressionism was all the rage. Galleries began identifying their artists as Impressionists, and many artists jumped right on the bandwagon with them. Whether they were impressionists or not didn’t really matter because just about everything was being identified as Impressionism. The public ate it up.

    Are we seeing the same today regarding Plein Air?


    Jean Stern, Executive Director of the Irvine Museum in Irvine, CA says just about as much. In an excellent article titled “Plein Air Painting: A Vehicle, Not a Destination”, published in the Summer 2011 edition of Plein Air Magazine, Stern writes…

    “Quite often, as seen in countless art magazine advertisements, the legitimacy of plein air painting has been subverted to accommodate those who seek to appropriate the popularity and commercial success now attendant to that designation. Today, there are many who describe themselves as ‘plein air painters’ who, in fact, are not.”

    We’ve all seen photos of artists, standing before the motif, with a highly detailed painting on a large canvas…clearly suggesting that the work was done en plein air. Plein air painting has become a badge of honor, a status symbol.

    As Mr. Stern points out, “Plein Air is not a philosophy and it is not the artist’s Nirvana. It is not the end product. It is, in fact, the beginning.”


    Collectors today seem to be asking more and more, “Is this painting a plein air piece?” Plein air painting is the new “in thing” and plein air painters are coming out of the woodwork. Because of its popularity, in some cases, paintings are being passed off as having been done in plein air when indeed they were not. The galleries and artists aren’t the only ones culpable in this, as I believe part of the problem rests with plein air organizations and those hosting such events.

    plein air-10


    It’s very possible that I’ve missed it, but I am not aware of any of these organizations actually defining, definitively establishing what qualifies as a plein air painting. I’ve heard that at least 50% of the painting must have been completed outdoors in front of the subject, while others declare it’s all or nothing with absolutely no studio work allowed, even for touch-ups. If a clear, consistent definition were established, I think it would be a good thing and could help us avoid creating a “new Impressionism”.

    Mr. Stern doesn’t believe that plein air painting is the end product. I don’t think he means it as presented, for we all know plein air paintings can be a beautiful end product. I think he was saying that plein air painting is not an end in itself but a precursor to a more refined work. He says as much here. “It is tempting to keep painting the small, carefully observed, brilliant little jewels that tend to sell well, and unfortunately, many artists do just that. The plein air sketch confirms its reason for being when it leads to a refined, studio-painted final work.”


    Plein air work is an absolute necessity for any landscape painter, but as I have seen many times, it can be a crutch that the artist leans on, giving them a sense of security and accomplishment, when in reality there exists an inability to go beyond the sketch toward the creation of a highly refined studio painting based on that outdoor work.

    I have always viewed my outdoor work as a way to learn…a way to improve the studio painting. It seems Jean Stern and I are on the same page.“Once an artist has achieved a practical proficiency in painting outdoors, after meeting the artistic challenges as well as the natural inconveniences, it is time to use those sketches to fulfill the promise of plein air and paint the large, final work in the studio.”


    Forget everything I've said. I'm a firm believer in plein air painting. Who cares about the finished product. The more painting in plein air the better.

    OK - Forget everything I’ve said. I’m a firm believer in plein air painting. Who cares about the finished product. The more painting done in plein air the better.

    I’m heading to the beach. I hear there are some beautiful subjects there......

  • February 24, 2014 6:26 PM | Anonymous

    Randy Saffle's Favorite Place to Paint was featured in Outdoorpainter.com


  • February 12, 2014 7:04 PM | Anonymous

    OPS Members Bob O'Brian and Jimmy Longacre had write ups for Outdoorpainter.com newsletter...





  • February 09, 2014 3:40 PM | Tina Bohlman (Administrator)

    NOTE: This post is authored by OPS Signature member, John Pototschnik and shared with his permission.

    The rooms were softly lit and human voices were as whispers…distant and subdued…yet the sound was deafening. Despite the noise, there was present a prevailing sense of awe and respect…maybe even reverence. I was standing in the presence of greatness…a giant.

    There in those softly lit rooms, at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, hung the illuminated works of Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, an artist of extraordinary brilliance.


    "Children on the Seashore" - 38"x 51" - Oil (1903)

    “Children on the Seashore” – 38″x 51″ – Oil (1903)



    Sorolla painting children on the beach II


    I had the privilege of enjoying the Sorolla exhibit with my wife, and with artist friend, David Griffin. You’ll be learning more of him in an upcoming blog post. However, being an artist himself, I appreciated his company, keen observation and sensitivity to nuances so wonderfully expressed through Sorolla’s brush. My wife on the other hand, being practical, down to earth, and not impressed by big names, was not enamored with everything Sorolla painted…as I pretty much am. Periodically, I would hear her say, “That’s just not clear, I would never buy that.”…as if we could!!!


    "Oxen Study for 'Afternoon Sun'" - 38"x 54" - Oil (1903)

    “Oxen Study for ‘Afternoon Sun’” – 38″x 54″ – Oil (1903)


    sorolla -

    "The Horse's Bath" - 81"x 98" - Oil (1909)

    “The Horse’s Bath” – 81″x 98″ – Oil (1909)


    Much could be said about Señor Sorolla’s work. If it’s true that paintings reflect an artist’s personality, then Sorolla’s sheer exuberance for life, family, and the joy of painting did not escape me.

    His work exhibits massive confidence and knowledge, most evident in his drawing ability, risky compositions, and use of color. His paintings cannot be ignored for there is an authenticity and honesty that comes through with every stroke of the brush. He must have been a man of depth…bold and boisterous, while at the same time, sensitive and caring. In this regard, I was intrigued by his very tiny “painted notes”, some smaller than five inches, broadly and rapidly painted (probably in minutes) yet with his signature so sensitively and clearly signed that one almost needs a magnifying glass to decipher it.


    "Another Marguerite" - 51"x 79" - Oil (1892)

    “Another Marguerite” – 51″x 79″ – Oil (1892)…Gold Medal, National Exhibition in Madrid; First Place, Chicago International Exhibition


    "Sad Inheritance" - 83"x 112" - Oil (1899)...Grand Prix and Medal of Honor at Universal Exhibition in Paris; Medal of Honor at National Exhibition in Madrid.

    “Sad Inheritance” – 83″x 112″ – Oil (1899)…Grand Prix and Medal of Honor at Universal Exhibition in Paris; Medal of Honor at National Exhibition in Madrid.


    When standing before any great work of art, in this case Sorolla’s, it’s sort of bitter sweet. Sweet, to see such amazing work and to marvel that one can have such incredible talent and ability. Bitter, in that it’s a very harsh reality check when confronted with one’s own lack of knowledge and ability. Do any of you artists ever feel that way?

    Just a partial view of the 14 murals Sorolla produced en plein air for the series "The Vision of Spain", now installed in the New York Hispanic Society of America.

    Just a partial view of the 14 murals Sorolla produced en plein air for the series “The Vision of Spain”, now installed in the New York Hispanic Society of America.

    Those of us that occasionally paint en plein air understand what it takes to create just a small study on site. Compare that with the jaw-dropping work Sorolla created en plein air. Consider the 14 massive murals he produced depicting several Spanish provinces…14 feet in height, totaling an incredible 227 feet. What is that, just over two football fields? All, en plein air mind you. If there are ever any allusions of personal greatness, this knowledge alone should bring us back to our senses. Right now, I’m feeling pretty small.

    ~ John Pototschnik


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