What is Plein Air Hiking?

One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Humans and Nature shall not be broken.

Leo Tolstoy

Plein Air Hiking at Plaikni Falls

Plein Air Hiking is about helping to make the outdoors more accessible, inclusive, and safer for both artists and nature.  

Artists of all levels and abilities, should be able to get outdoors, in whatever manner they can, and be inspired by nature.

We become more inclusive when we broaden our definitions and become safer by using principles from organizations like, Leave No Trace and Recreate Responsibly to develop educational and inspirational resources to help us create our own safe, accessible painting adventures

Who is an Artist?

I always hear some version of the phrase I’m not an artist.  That’s because artists are typically defined as a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.  

While that’s one definition it’s not the only one.  In her book “Make Your Art No Matter What“, Beth Pickins uses artist as the word for people who have creative practices throughout and beyond every nameable discipline.  I like this definition, but let’s shorten it just a bit to help us. 

“An artist is someone who has a creative practice.”

Who is a Hiker?

Like the term artist, the definition of a hiker is very narrow and antiquated. A hiker is usually defined as a person who goes for a long walk in the countryside.  Once again it is A definition but not a very inclusive one.

Syren Nagakyrie, the author of  The Disabled Hiker’s Guide to Western WA and OR, gives us a more inclusive definition in this Disabled Hikers Instagram post: 

“If you move in some way outdoors, and want to call yourself a hiker, you are a hiker. ”  

What is Plein Air Painting or En Plein Air?

En Plein Air is a French term meaning in open air. This is in reference to artists that painted their subjects outdoors in full view.  This allowed them to capture the spirit and essence of a subject by using natural light, color, and movement in their work.  

Catherine Gill, in her book ‘Powerful Watercolor Landscapes‘, describes the job of a landscape painter as thoughtfully capturing the response we feel to the landscape, not accurately painting the things we see in the landscape. 

I like this definition but not everyone paints, remember our definition of artists above.  So let’s change painting to creating and let’s change landscape to subject.  

“Creating  En Plein Air is a way to interpret and share our responses to our subjects as we experience them firsthand in nature.”

What is Leave No Trace?

Leave No Trace is an organization that has developed a framework of 7 Principles to help minimize our impact when visiting the outdoors.   

These principles can be used in any location from the remote wilderness, to local parks and even our backyards.  This site will be using Leave No Trace principles in the development of information to help artists keep themselves and nature safe.

“We can keep ourselves and nature safe  by understanding and using The 7 Principles of Leave No Trace”

Who am I?

I’m a plein air watercolor artist,  illustrator, and retired veteran living on the traditional lands of the Kalapuya,  the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and the Atfalati.

You can find more about me and my work at RichChabot.com

Image of plein air hiking creator in zion park Utah