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Brushes Beneath the Blossoms

Plein air painting, or painting “in the open air”, has a long and storied tradition in the world of art. It brought us Monet’s water lilies and Renoir’s sunny parks. The beauty of nature has inspired countless artists. And every spring, right here in Vancouver, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival offers you the opportunity to experience painting en plein air. Come join us under the cherry blossoms for a variety of classes, each taught by a local artist.

Alfonso Tejada is the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s plein air master and has been involved with the event for 7 years. For Alfonso, painting in the open air is about celebrating a unique moment in nature and capturing its fleeting beauty. The blooming of the cherry blossoms announces the arrival of spring and, while it is a breathtaking sight, it does not last. “We have green trees all year round,” says Alfonso, “beautiful cherry trees come only once a year.”

Alfonso has a background in architecture and fine arts studies. Formerly a teacher at UBC’s School of Architecture, Alfonso finds inspiration in nature and the outdoors. “Plein air painting is the traditional Impressionist way of painting the outdoors, capturing recollections of the seasons, the appearance of old towns and sunsets,” he says. “Everything is related to capturing moments.” After a long and dreary winter, the beautiful blossoms inspire people to gather outside and share in the joy and splendor of spring.

Plein air painting is for everyone, young and old, novice artists and master painters – it is an opening of the senses for anyone who wishes to try. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival offers four plein air sessions, taking place every Saturday in April. Each session will last three hours and will be led by a different instructor.

Session One: Introduction to Plein Air Painting with Watercolour

This session, led by Alfonso Tejada, will focus on the basic principles of plein air painting, including colour, composition and palette use. It will feature watercolour, an extremely expressive and easy to use medium.

Session Two: Painting Outdoors with Sandrine Pellessier

Sandrine Pelissier is a multimedia artist, author and instructor. As a studio artist herself, Sandrine’s class will be focusing on the transition from studio to outdoor painting. In honour of the cherry blossoms, Sandrine’s class will also feature an exploration on the use of the colour pink.

Session Three: Oils and Acrylics with Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth Harris is an artist comfortable working with a variety of mediums, including acrylics, oils, ceramics and multimedia. Her class will feature instruction in the use of oil and acrylic paints in an outdoor setting.

Session Four: Sketching under the Blossoms

For those intimidated by the thought of managing a paint palette outside, this session will feature the simple art of sketching. It is open to any form of media, including ink, pencil, watercolour and pastels. Alfonso Tejada will show you how to freely capture the beauty of nature, regardless of your skill level.

Join Alfonso Tejada, Sandrine Pelissier and Elizabeth Harris for four, 3hr Saturday sessions on April 5, 12, 19, and 26 from 11 AM to 2 PM. Individual classes are $50, all four classes for $175, plus special Festival ticket entrance of $5 for non-garden members per session.

If you are interested in registering for a class or for more information, please visit the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival website.

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