"En plein air" is a French expression which means "in the open air," and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. For centuries, artists have taken advantage of the benefits of plein air painting, drawing on the inspiration of their natural surroundings, fresh, invigorating breezes, and light conditions that are especially conducive to creating beautiful works of art.
Recently, during a walk around the grounds, I happened upon a group of students with instructor Chantel Barber in her Plein Air Painting Workshop. I guess you could consider the scene a cross-cultural one...painting en plein air (French) in the Seijaku-en (Japanese Garden of Tranquility.)
This particular group was using pastels to create masterpieces from nature, and the students ranged from beginners to experienced artists. They were intently capturing the fall color and peaceful surroundings.
Two things come to mind regarding today's encounter:
1) How exciting that you can take a stroll around the Garden on any given day and never know what you'll experience.
2) Maybe I should sign up for an upcoming class and "sneak" away from my desk for a while...I hear it's good for the soul.