By Alana Pugh
Connect with the natural world while developing creativity this fall with one of Mt. Cuba Center’s upcoming art courses. This fall, Randall Graham teaches En Plein Air classes, a style of art dedicated to capturing landscapes in outdoor environments. Learn color-mixing, drawing, composing, and basic set-up tips in a skillful and encouraging environment.
Graham is a successful artist local to the Brandywine Valley, utilizing the skills taught to him at the Carlin Academy of Fine Art as his foundation. He teaches classes at his studio, Gallery 222, Wayne Art Center, and Chester County Art Association. In September and October, he’ll instruct two upcoming En Plein Air classes at Mt. Cuba Center. Read on to find out more about his unique style.
Randy Graham is an award-winning artist, specializing in En Plein Air styles. He is well known for his own take on plein air, dubbed En Rain Air. He has a studio on the second floor of Gallery 222 in Malvern, PA where he works and teaches classes.
Mt. Cuba: Can you tell us about your artistic background? How did you discover your passion and how has it molded into what we see from you today? What do you enjoy most about creating landscape pieces?
I have had a pencil in my hand for as long as I can remember. I have worked hard on growing my skills because I just love painting so much. I studied seriously at Carlin Academy of Fine Art; learning traditional methods to create paintings at the academy was essential for me to understand how to craft a vision. I enjoy creating landscape paintings so much because they are so emotional. The range of terrain, weather, and atmosphere that mother nature gives us allows for endless possibilities to paint.
Mt. Cuba: You are known for your own unique style of plein air painting, “En Rain Air.” Can you explain a little about how you have developed your own style and how that has impacted your art?
I started painting these by accident one day when I was in a plein air competition and there was a massive rainstorm. As I was driving to a location I stopped at a light and just noticed all the rain drops on my mini van’s windshield. I decided to pull over and paint the raindrops and explore the abstract scene I was looking at. I have continued to paint in my van when it is raining to achieve this effect. I have started doing some larger rain paintings in the studio. Although these paintings are very tedious, I really enjoy the results because of the juxtaposition of realism and attraction that it presents to the viewer.
Mt. Cuba: You’re an award-winning artist who also teaches classes locally. What do you like about teaching?
Teaching is very rewarding to me. I love teaching people to have the skills and confidence to create their own paintings. I am a big believer that creating art of any kind can enhance one’s life and improves observational skills. I love helping students achieve the skills that are needed to communicate through painting.
Mt. Cuba: What advice do you have for those just starting their own artistic journey with plein air?
Plein Air can be challenging in the beginning — mostly because of light changing and choosing what to paint. I am a big proponent of having a plan and a step-by-step method for plein air painting. This allows the painter not to get flustered while painting. My advice is the keep the composition simple as a beginner. Also, practice is the biggest piece that creates growth in plein air painting. So, I urge beginners to get out and do it — plus, it’s always fun enjoying time in nature.
Mt. Cuba: What do you like about the Brandywine Valley (and Mt. Cuba Center) for artwork and artistic endeavors?
I am incredibly grateful to have grown up in the Brandywine Valley. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. The landscapes of this area are really in my blood at this point. Mt. Cuba is such a beautiful place and has an important mission to create sustainable native gardens, which is really close to my heart.
Mt. Cuba: Thanks for chatting with us today! Where can people see some of the work you have done?
Gallery 222 in Malvern represents my art. So that is a great place to see some of my art in person or online. I also tend to post new paintings on Instagram faster than updating my website, so my Instagram is a great place to see my work. My page is @randallgraham