On Friday I left my readers hanging about plein air hooking. The term plein air is a French term that means “plain air”. In some parts of the world it is referred to as plain air. It was used to describe artwork painted by artists who painted the landscape while outdoors.

What is plein air hooking? Simply put it’s hooking the outdoors while outdoors. In more severe climates and recent years plein air hooking also includes sitting near a window and hooking the outdoor view.

Plein air requires a quick eye and hand. Light changes rapidly, causing colours and shadows to shift.

How do I do it? I take a lawn chair, a hat, a water bottle, a small piece of backing, lots of miscellaneous colours of fibre, usually leftover scraps, called worms, from my other projects, a hooking frame, hooks, my sketchbook, a pencil, a permanent black marker, and a pair of scissors. I set myself up, draw a quick sketch…no detail…just to check composition and maybe note dominant shapes, line, colour and value. I try to simplify shapes in my sketches and note colour.

Then I draw directly on backing. No time to make a pattern. The light and shadows move too quickly. I have at most two hours to make my plein air piece. I mark my colours, lights and darks by hooking a bit of the colour in the appropriate place in the backing.

After that I hook as fast as I possibly can to finish the piece. I am a relatively slow rug hooker. It takes me an hour to hook an area the size of my hand. Later, I will take my plein air piece back to my studio to decide whether or not to enlarge it and create a studio piece.

I love the immediacy of plein air hooking. However, because light changes so fast and I hook so slow, I have to keep my pieces small.

Plein air hooking is a good way to stretch yourself. There is a group of plein air hooking artists with a website. It is Plein Air Hooking Artists. It is composed of rug hooking artists from around the globe.

If you are interested in plein air hooking, check out the Plein Air Hooking Artists website, grab your supplies and go outdoors! Start with your own yard to give you a trial run. That way if you forget anything its a short trip to the house to pick it up. Once you feel more comfortable on your own, move to a nearby park or the great outdoors somewhere near you. Enjoy!

“The Barn”
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