Explore Plein Air Painting with Maria Josenhans

June 28, 2021

An artist for nearly four decades and a passionate landscape painter, Maria Josenhans creates oil paintings both outdoors and in her North Vancouver studio. Her singular work plays back and forth between representational and abstract, as she allows each painting to find its own unique path. Maria’s career has been shaped by long periods of training, teaching, working as an illustrator, immersion in large format photography, competing in and adjudicating Highland dance, and travelling the world by bicycle. She holds a BFA with Honours from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, and continues to take part in invitational plein air events both nationally and abroad.

Working outside definitely triggers a different state of mind because your environment is always changing, so trying to keep up with the transitions is something you learn to let go of. I tend to work really quickly when I’m outdoors. There’s a very strong intention to completely absorb what’s happening at the moment. 


Nothing beats direct observation. That’s the cornerstone of all my painting outdoors – actually seeing what’s going on; being a part of the environment. I hope to capture not just a setting, but that feeling of being outdoors – the bright sunlight on the river, the warmth of a summer day or chill of the winter.

Creativity for me happens when I’m in it, when I can bring myself to a slightly calmer place. That’s a big reason I gravitate towards being in nature and going into the backcountry. It’s an environment where there are few people and you can really let yourself just relax into your surroundings. Being outdoors is uncensored, whereas in our studio we can make it what we want – we can put on whatever music; we can induce a mood. But when you’re outside, the atmosphere and goings-on are uncontrollable, and you get to be a part of that.

Nature can always be far more original. If I just go out there and look and be responsive to what I see, I’m going to discover far more than I ever could in my own imagination. That’s the biggest part of plein air painting for me – being out there and letting inspiration come my way instead of trying to find it. The world is a treasure trove if you’re open to it.


Watch and Listen to Maria’s Full Interview in the Opus Visual Podcast

Explore Plein Air Painting with Maria Josenhans and Dominik Modlinski

Listen to the new podcast featuring Maria Josenhans and Dominik Modlinski. As we explore the outdoors, we explore our inner world.. Check out… Watch Visual Podcast