Plein Air Painting in the Alps

Discover the Joy of Painting en Plein Air

What is Painting en Plein Air?

En Plein air, a French term meaning “in the open air” is a method of painting outdoors. The equivalent Italian term is “alfresco.” Plein air painting is art inspired by and infused with the outdoor setting in which the art is created.

Some Background on Plein Air Painting in the Alps

Although artists have long painted outdoors, plein air painting and working with natural light took on new importance among late 19th century Impressionists and is associated with Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir. American artists Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent (whose work pictured above was painted in the Swiss Alps) were also highly regarded for their plein air works . During this period artists developed a compact portable art kit for use in the field known as a “Box Easel.” This innovation, with telescopic legs and a built-in paint box and palette made it easy for an artist to set up a plein air studio on a hillside, along a river bank, or in a wildflowered meadow. Plein air artists have always been at home in the Alps. In 1880 Swiss artist Giovanni Segantini began to paint en plein air, as he preferred working outdoors rather than in a studio. He later moved to a small village in southeastern Switzerland which afforded him the opportunity to paint in the mountain setting near St. Moritz where he gained great acclaim. The Segantini Museum is now located in St Moritz where you can enjoy the distinctive style of his paintings that capture rural life and dramatic Alpine landscapes.Costume grigionese (1887), Giovanni Segantini

Plein air in the Alps Today

Plein air painting continues to thrive in the Alps and throughout Europe. In the Alps you’ll see plein air artists at their easels experiencing and capturing a mountain landscape, the simplicity of life on a small alpine farm, a traditional terraced vineyard in the Rhone Valley, or a small café within a walled medieval village.

Plein Air Workshops in the Alps

Are you an artist or art teacher who wants to share the joy of plein air painting with a group of students or other artists? In addition to a one-of-a-kind painting experience, you'll enjoy traveling throughout the scenic Alpine regions of Europe. You'll sample fine cuisine, artisan cheese, hand-crafted chocolate, and local wine. If you long to immerse yourself in the culture and history of Europe, Alpenwild can help you create the perfect plein air painting tour for you and your group. We take care of every detail. Your tour will include charming hotels and delicious meals. We also know the locales and mountain settings that will spark your creative genius. That leaves you free to paint, teach, and immerse yourself in the experience of the Alps and its traditional culture and cuisine.

Create Your Own Custom Plein Air Tour in the Alps

Every Alpenwild tour is a custom experience in the Alps. Work with us to craft the ideal itinerary that includes plein air opportunities in whatever setting most appeals to you--alpine meadows, cobblestoned villages, ancient hillside vineyards, or glacial valleys ringed by plunging waterfalls. You dream of the setting and we make your dreams come true. You can also determine the optimal group size. For most of our plein air workshops and tours, 6 to 12 participants is ideal, although we’ve successfully accommodated groups of 15 or more. Are you ready to find your artistic inspiration in the Alps? Call one of our certified Switzerland specialist to get started.

About Alpenwild's Artist-in-Residence

Alpenwild Artist in Residence Jana Winters Parkin, UWS, is an award-winning artist specializing in watercolor, with a passion for the great outdoors. She was practically raised with a paintbrush in her hand, brought up under the tutelage of her father, art educator and watercolorist Dr. Nathan B. Winters. Her college education began at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, the University of Cambridge in England, and she earned her BFA from the University of Utah, under internationally recognized watercolorists George Dibble and Ed Maryon. Since then she has studied with some of the world’s great watercolor painters, including Charles Reid, Cheng Khee Chee, Linda Kemp, Alvaro Castagnet, and Thomas Schaller.   Jana spent 15 years running a design and illustration studio in Los Angeles, where many celebrities commissioned her work, including Paul Newman (Scott Newman Center), Melanie Griffith (Sabera Foundation), Michelle Pfeiffer (Victory Over Violence), the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Golden Globe Awards, and the Hollywood Bowl. A turning point came when Breez Fragrances commissioned 30 original watercolors to introduce their new fragrance lines. Jana discovered her passion and her future was in watercolor.   Jana has been plein-air painting for over 30 years, beginning in the Monterey Bay area, and branching out to include such sites as Angeles National Forest and the canyons and beaches of Southern California; Oahu, Maui, and the big island of Hawaii; the majestic red-rock wonders of Utah’s national parks: Bryce, Zion, and Capitol Reef; the Oregon coast; Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the grand Tetons; Lake Tahoe, Big Bear, Palm Desert, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz in greater California; Vivian Park, Bridal Veil Falls, Sundance Resort, Aspen Grove, Bear Lake, Cascade Springs, Flaming Gorge, and Snow Canyon in Utah; Orlando and Sarasota Florida, and of course New York City and the Hudson River Valley.   Internationally, she has sketched and painted on the streets of Mexico and the coast of Puerto Vallarta; in Cubelles, Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, the rolling hills and red-tile roofs of the Tuscany region of Italy; Paris, France and its surroundings, and throughout England and Scotland, from the Isle of Skye, to the Lake District, London and Cambridge, and the white cliffs of Dover.   Jana and her family left the hectic pace of Los Angeles eleven years ago and settled for a more peaceful regimen, enjoying the canyon trails and mountain vistas of northern Utah. Jana has taught beginning through advanced watercolor courses at Utah Valley University since 2007. She is also a popular workshop instructor and teaches private lessons in her home studio. Outside of galleries and collectors’ walls her work can be viewed at