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Jean Stern of the Irvine Museum to speak during Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational

By Staff | Jan 30, 2014


LAHAINA – When the Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational returns Feb. 15-23, the event will showcase the foremost authority on California Impressionism, Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Pioneer Inn Courtyard, Stern will delve into a free lecture on “Masterpieces of Plein Air Painting.”

Plein air painting, a French art term for painting directly outside, has been practiced for over 150 years, ever since the invention of the paint tube in the mid-1800s. With the intent of painting the effect of true, natural light as accurately as possible, plein air painters moved out of the studio to be immersed in the same natural light they sought to capture on canvas.

In this one-hour lecture of approximately 80 slides, Stern will show numerous examples of great outdoor paintings of the past as well as the present, and discuss what makes these successful works of art. In addition, he will show and discuss all eight Best in Show winners from previous Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational events.

Stern got his start in the art world at the age of ten, helping at his father’s gallery. These early impressions helped to shape his lifelong fascination with art and helped to mold his career.

Stern, who holds a Master’s Degree in Art History, is credited with single-handedly bringing national presence for the Irvine Museum, renowned for its impressive collections of California Impressionism.

“I feel that landscape painting is the highest form of visually representative art, and that plein air painting is its most honest expression,” said Stern. “Plein air painters live to capture the true appearance of natural light. I feel that humankind has an inseparable connection to nature, and that any art that reflects nature is important to the human spirit. We are all part of nature, and we turn to nature to mend our spirit after it gets battered by the stress and tribulations of modern life.”

According to Stern, the most important aspect of plein air is to capture the fleeting effect of immediate natural light before it changes. Generally, artists will paint no more than two hours outdoors on a single painting, because after two hours, the light has changed sufficiently to make it a different painting.

Claude Monet, the great French Impressionist, followed this rule. When he went to paint, he set up three easels and three canvases. He would paint for two hours, take a break, and start the next painting. This explains why there are so many views of haystacks or water lilies or the faade of Rouen Cathedral. The light was so different after two hours that he had to stop.

Throughout his career, Stern has judged more than 70 art events and presented over 250 lectures around the country. He considers the Maui Plein Air Painting Invitational his absolute favorite and the most desirable plein air painting event in the United States today.

“Not only is it staged in the Eden-like beauty of Maui, but it is organized by a dedicated group of people who share their genuine aloha each year,” said Stern.

“For the public, it’s an incredible opportunity to watch great artists at work, to purchase original paintings and to have a thoroughly wonderful time in one of the world’s greatest destinations.”

The same evening, an Artists Mini-Paintings Silent Auction will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. prior to the lecture, with final bidding following the lecture.

For more information, visit www.MauiPleinAirPainting.org or call (808) 298-9119.