Painting `en plein air` in Windsor-Essex
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Jan 27, 2015  |  Vote 1    0

Painting `en plein air` in Windsor-Essex


If you go

The outdoors in winter is enjoyed most when you are dressed properly. Elizabeth MacDonald, co-founder of the Windsor and Essex County Plein Air Society has the following suggestions for those heading outdoors to paint:

• Wear long underwear.

• Dress warmly. Whatever you would wear for skiing or snowmobiling is appropriate.

• Cover up. Your ears, head and neck should all be covered

• Wear multiple layers.

• Use hand and feet warmers.

• Protect your eyes from snow blindness with sunglasses or a brimmed hat.


Winter in Windsor-Essex County provides outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers with an amazing opportunity to go hiking, ice skating, snowshoeing or tobogganing while enjoying the great outdoors.

For members of the Windsor and Essex County Plein Air Society, the season provides an endless supply of subject matter to paint: icy streams, forests, landscape, wildlife and snowy terrain.

Plein Air, is a French expression that means “open air.” It describes the art of outdoor painting and the use of natural light.

Windsor and Essex County Plein Air Society was formed in 2009 and has been meeting regularly ever since. The group has approximately 20 active members, with over 100 others following the group`s work.

Members gathered together this week at Ojibway to capture winter scenes. “I choose where we are going, or we decide as a group and meet up once a week,” said Elizabeth MacDonald, co-founder of the group along with Margaret Dawson. Ojibway Nature Centre and Park is the group's go to place in the winter due to the availability of public washrooms, and members can get indoors to warm up if needed.

“There has been a resurgence these days,” says MacDonald of the art form. “I love being outside with the wind blowing and the sun shining. It`s not like being in a stuffy studio. You`re in a natural setting painting nature – it is stunning. Photographs won`t pick up real colour or shadows, and the mood can change with the weather.”

Painting outside in the winter does have its challenges – wild animals, snow blindness and the cold, but nothing that can`t be planned for. “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing,” says MacDonald.

Painting en plein air also has it`s perks. “I once had a chickadee sit on my painting,” says MacDonald. “The fresh air, deer walking by, you don`t get that when your painting in the studio. “

The group has travelled to paint at dozens of outdoor locations across Essex County including Point Pelee, J.R. Park Homestead, Lakeshore Park and Christ Church in Colchester. There are no dues to become a member, and everyone is welcome to join. For more information or to join the group, contact Elizabeth MacDonald at or join their Facebook page at

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(1) Comment

By Elizabeth | JANUARY 28, 2015 11:06 AM
Thanks for the article about our group. You have to love auto-correct. I had a chickadee come sit on my painting. I chicken would be disastrous! I've already had a call this morning from someone who is excited to join us. Cheers!
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