About Plein Air Hiking

Plein Air Hiking at Plaikni Falls
Plein Air Hiking at Plaikni Falls during a trip to Crater Lake National Park Oregon

What is Plein Air Hiking?

Plein air hiking is an obvious combination of plein air painting and hiking., but it’s also more than that. Let’s look at how we can refine our definition of plein air hiking.


How is Plein Air Painting or Painting En Plein Air defined? 

En Plein Air is a French term meaning in the open-air or outside.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as  relating to painting in outdoor daylight or relating to a branch of impressionism that attempts to represent outdoor light and air.

So Plein Air painting can be described as painting a landscape onsite. But that doesn’t quite feel right. 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 to accurately paint the things we see in the landscape.

I like the job description she uses. It’s only when we are outdoors painting that we can experience the landscape. To me

Plein Air Painting, or painting en plein air, is a way we can interpret and share our responses to the landscape as we experience them first hand.


What is the definition of a hike or hiking ?

Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as  a long walk especially for pleasure or exercise

Oxford languages and google define it as : the activity of going for long walks, especially in the country or woods.

I like the definition found in the FAQ section of the 52 Hikes challenge website: 

“we’ll loosely count getting outdoors as a hike. This includes a hike in your local park, an urban hike, a snowshoe hike on flat land (for those who are in colder climates), a trail run, a climb in the mountains, etc. If a measurement must be made, we will say a minimum of 1 mile each hike.” 

52 Hike Challenge FAQs

I think this is a more inclusive definition, so for our purposes we’ll define hiking as getting outdoors, covering a distance of a mile is a hike.

The definition of plein air hiking

Plein Air Hiking is: “Hiking” to places so we can capture and interpret our experiences “en plein air”, while keeping ourselves and nature safe.

The Vision and Mission

The Vision:

to build a responsible, inclusive community, through the joy of plein air hiking, that helps ensure the outdoors is available for future generations.

The Mission:

to provide the educational and inspirational resources to get artists outdoors, while keeping themselves and nature safe

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.

I believe the outdoors should be an inclusive place and that everyone should experience nature in a safe and sustainable way.

I believe that anyone that has a creative practice, in any namable discipline, is an artist and that by spending time outdoors, nature will inspire our creativity.

I believe I can be a better ally by using my knowledge to enable artists to spend more time outdoors connecting with nature, while being safe.