The outdoors comes inside with the freshness of Plein Air Art

Cole Gallery introduces the accomplished young new plein air oil painter to the Washington arts scene
Jul 10, 2012
"Edmonds Main Street" oil painting by Brooke Borcherding

Plein air, French for “in the open air,” describes artists who paint on location and out of the studio, usually outdoors and not for the faint of heart.

The plein air artist battles the extremes of weather and often tediousness of carrying around heavy easels and paint supplies.

For recent University of Oregon graduate Brooke Borcherding however, who paints en plein air almost exclusively, this keeps her work fresh, vibrant, and gives her an edge.

Cole Gallery introduces the accomplished young new plein air oil painter to the Washington arts scene with her show of Seattle city scenes and charming Edmonds vistas which runs until the end of July.

“I find that painting on site yields a more interesting feel to a composition because it’s not always perfect,” Brooke explains of her work.  “The perspective won't be mathematically correct like a camera would make it, but the color is always more vibrant in life than on the computer or in the studio.  This upcoming show at Cole Gallery will be about finding the picturesque within the urban.”

“It almost seems like the paint is still wet on Brooke’s canvases,” Denise Cole, gallery owner said.  “She really brings you on location with her.  It’s like you can feel the wind in your hair and smell the salty sea air just by looking at her Seattle and Edmonds scenes.”

Brooke recently moved to Seattle from Eugene to pursue painting urban landscapes and take advantage of Washington’s progressive and inventive art scene.

Originally from Santa Monica, California herself, she found the ocean and lakes calling her name like a Siren to paint.

“I think the first painting I did of Seattle will always stick with me (“Skyline Over Lake Union”),”  Brooke tells.  “I painted it before I knew I was going to move here.  I just drove around until I had to pull over to paint the view of the water from a neighborhood street.  I was sort of lost, but it didn't matter because I liked the scene so much.

“It was a new experience because I have never really painted a city skyline before.  It opened up the gates to the beginning of an urban type of landscape painting for me.

“I was once asked why there are never any people in my paintings, and 
that made me realize I paint places where people can go.  My paintings are observations of a place, and I like to keep it as one by removing the actual activity and just showing the 'stage' so to speak.

“I don't think I tell a story necessarily, but provide a pristine and untouched scope of a place you may have seen, or want to go in the future.”

View Brooke Borcherding’s new show including “Skyline Over Lake Union” at Cole Gallery running Thru July 31 or online at

Meet Brooke on Edmonds’ Third Thursday Art Walk at Cole Gallery on July 19th from 5-8 p.m., where Brooke will be doing a live plein air demo.



"37th and Wallingford" oil painting by Brooke Borcherding
"Skyline over Lake Union from 40th and 4th" oil painting by Brooke Borcherding
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