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Fresh Air

Painting outside has its perks


It's happened to everyone: You're outside catching a particularly gorgeous sunset, and you want to snap a picture to remember the way the light is bouncing off the greenery — only to find that when the photo is printed, the camera couldn't exactly capture the magic. You can still see all of the beauty in your mind's eye, yet it's not quite there on paper. In times like these, you should've commissioned an artist who works en plein air instead of reaching for your camera. These folks take their canvases outdoors and paint in natural light, which enables them to more easily reveal the nuances of color and depth. Billyo O'Donnell, one such en plein air artist, has trekked all through the state of Missouri painting each and every county (and St. Louis City) along his way, and he's gathered these "snapshots" in his new book, Painting Missouri: The Counties en Plein Air. You can meet O'Donnell and have him sign a copy of his book, which costs $49.95, from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 8, at the Foundry Art Centre (520 North Main Center, St. Charles; 636-255-0270 or Then, to see these 115 county paintings in person (that's Harrison County pictured), drop by the St. Louis Mercantile Library on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road), where they hang until Monday, October 6. Library hours and more information about the show are available by calling 314-516-7240 or visiting

And for the real en plein air enthusiasts among you who still aren't sated by the above action, Webster Groves hosts the Paint Webster Plein Air Painting Competition from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 10. Stroll around this county nabe during the contest and you're bound to catch some live-action work! For more about this event and a list of artist locations, visit
Mondays-Fridays; Aug. 1-Oct. 6. Starts: May 8. Continues through Aug. 1, 2008

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