Painting outdoors during the summer season can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for artists. The warm weather, vibrant colors, and longer daylight hours offer plenty of inspiration and opportunities to capture the beauty of nature. And while summer in Vienna ranges from around 20 to 32 degrees Celsius (68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) it doesn’t last that long – we take every chance we can to soak under the sun and get our supply of Vitamin D (sun protection and all included). So recently, Filipino Visual Artists in Austria (FVAA) held a plein-air painting with its members at the Hermesvilla/Lainzertiergarten Nature Park to relish the season.
Table of Contents
En Plein Air
En plein air painting (or plein-air), also known as outdoor painting or painting in the open air, is a technique in which artists create their artwork outdoors, directly capturing the scenes and landscapes in natural light. “En plein air,” French translates to “in the open air.” This painting method became particularly popular in the mid-19th century with the advent of portable art supplies and the growing interest in capturing the effects of light and atmosphere on location.
En plein air painting allows artists to observe and interpret the natural world in real-time, capturing the fleeting qualities of light, color, and atmosphere that can be challenging to recreate in a studio setting. By working outdoors, artists are immersed in the environment they are depicting, allowing for a more immediate and visceral connection with the subject matter.
Setup and Method
Artists often set up their easels, canvas, or other painting surfaces in outdoor settings such as parks, gardens, seascapes, or urban landscapes. They may choose to paint landscapes, cityscapes, figures, or any subject matter that inspires them. The goal is to capture the essence and mood of the scene, while also incorporating their personal interpretation and artistic style.
En plein air painting requires the artist to work quickly and make decisions on color, composition, and brushwork on the spot. The changing light and weather conditions pose both challenges and opportunities, as they influence the colors, shadows, and overall atmosphere of the scene. This method encourages spontaneity, gestural brushwork, and a direct response to the surroundings.
Famous artists such as Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Winslow Homer were known for their en plein air paintings, which played a significant role in the development of Impressionism and other artistic movements.
Today, many artists continue to practice en plein air painting, whether as a standalone artistic approach or as a way to gather inspiration and references for studio work.
En plein air painting offers a unique experience for both the artist and the viewer (me! and other curious villa visitors). It allows artists to immerse themselves in nature, capturing its beauty and intricacies, while also providing viewers with a fresh and authentic perspective on the world around them. The resulting artworks often convey a sense of spontaneity, energy, and a direct connection to the natural environment.
The Hermesvilla gardens and the Lainzer Nature Park
Painting at Hermesvilla’s garden and the Lainzer park itself gives an artist the opportunity to capture the beauty of both nature and history. The Hermesvilla and Lainzer Zoo as a whole is a perfect spot to paint…even just listening to the sounds of nature, feeling the breeze, and appreciating the historical significance of the area is worth a visit. These elements can surely inspire and guide one’s artistic expression.
Choosing a spot
We walked from the Lainzer Tor and explored the grounds of Hermesvilla to find a scenic, inspiring location. There are numerous picturesque spots within, such as the villa itself, the surrounding gardens, the trees and shrubs growing abound and even the meadows. As I wasn’t there to paint but just capture photos, I walked around a lot more than the artists did…but I observed and they of course found their spots, considered the lighting conditions and the compositions of their scenes before setting up their easels or settling at an area where their scene can be perfectly portrayed.
Hermesvilla is an elegant and historic building that can serve as a captivating subject for paintings. Four of the artists paid attention to the architectural details, such as the columns, windows, and overall design of the villa. They incorporated these elements into their composition to create a sense of place and history.
The gardens surrounding Hermesvilla offer a variety of flora and fauna. Everyone took time to observe and select interesting plants, flowers, trees, and shrubs, and included them in their painting. They used different media to color and put texture into to bring the botanical elements to life on their canvasses.
Choosing and Packing Media and Supplies
It is wise to bring portable and lightweight art supplies that are suitable for outdoor painting. Bringing one’s preferred painting medium, whether it’s oil paints, watercolors, or acrylics, along with brushes, palette, canvas or paper, and any additional tools needed should be prepared beforehand. A collapsible easel or a portable painting box (see above photos) are best to make it easier to transport supplies. You can also bring foldable chairs and picnic mats, whichever you prefer.
Coffee and Chitchat
The Hermesvilla is also the perfect spot to enjoy a tranquil afternoon ambiance while savoring a warm cup of coffee. There is a café-restaurant where you can indulge in cakes, drinks, and other Austrian specialties.
The café offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere with outdoor seating options, allowing you to enjoy your coffee while taking in the scenic surroundings. They offer a range of coffee options to suit different preferences. Whether you enjoy a classic espresso, a cappuccino, a latte, a melange or other specialty coffees, you can find a variety of choices to satisfy your coffee cravings. Alongside your coffee, the café offers a selection of pastries, cakes, or other sweet treats (Esterhazy for example, as you see in the photo). Indulge in a delectable pastry or pair your coffee with a delicious dessert to enhance your overall experience.
If you don’t like coffee, you can have wine or beer, they have it too! Fruit juices, sparkling drinks, and other bottled drinks are on the menu. You can surely find your favorite from their selection.
Outdoor painting and having coffee at Hermesvilla provides a delightful combination of history, natural beauty, and a cozy café atmosphere. It’s a wonderful way to take a break, appreciate your surroundings, and savor a moment of relaxation amidst the lush greenery of Lainzer Zoo.
Hermesvilla, Lainzer Tor entrance
Lainzer Tiergarten, Hermesstraße 4, 1130 Vienna
--------------------------Book your Vienna stay here!--------------------------