Essential Pittsburgh
3:54 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

"En Plein Air" - Painting the Town in Mt. Lebanon

One of the plein air paintings created by David Csont.
Credit David Csont / Mt. Lebanon Plen Air

This Monday marked the beginning of the week long 2nd Annual Plein Air Mt. Lebanon Arts Festival where twenty-five artists from around the country are quite literally painting the town.

The festival gets its name from the French expression “en plein air”, meaning “in the open air” and describes the style of painting outdoors. Plein air painting began in the impressionist era led by famous artists such as Claude Monet and Edouard Manet who took their easels, brushes and tubes of paint into nature.

Linda Csont, co-organizer of the art festival and competition says last year’s event was inspired by a similar plein air painting exhibition one summer in Easton, Maryland, which her husband competed in. Their goal was to bring plein air painting to Pittsburgh to showcase the area of Mt. Lebanon and raise funds for the town’s art programs. Artists paint scenes, architecture, fall foliage and people from all around the city, rain or shine. 

According to Mt. Lebanon’s Commercial Districts Manager Eric Milliron, plein air painting can take place virtually anywhere and at any time. Past artists have painted in the dark and even in the rain. Throughout the week artists will be painting scenes primarily of Mt. Lebanon, but were allowed to paint in other locations throughout the city.

“Pittsburgh in the fall is beautiful. Our hillsides and valleys give a spectacular display of color,” says Milliron.

Completed artwork will be displayed this Friday evening with winners of the art competition to be revealed over the weekend.