(FRENCH FOR "IN OPEN AIR")
Plein Air painting, outdoor painting, resulted in the innovation of portable box easels and premixed paint in tubes. It became a major component in 19th century Impressionism and was practiced by artists like Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Our Plein Air classes are designed to bring you the full outdoor painting experience. It is the perfect excuse to grab a few friends, slather on sunscreen and drink in some of the best views the Bay Area has to offer. You will get settled in front of one of our iconic wooden easels and relax with an afternoon of light guided instruction, soothing bay breezes, and painted bliss. Follow along as one of our instructors breaks down a scene into easy-to-follow steps, or turn your easel to the view of your choice and go rogue.
Beyond Canvas is in collaboration with FLAX Art and Design for a scheduled San Francisco workshop series anyone can join. In this workshop, you will learn to take 3D San Francisco views and make them into your very own 2D work of art. There is no experience necessary in this all level class. In this series, you will get to keep your very own Paint Kits to continue creating beautiful works of art on your own after the class. Participants must sign up 48 hours in advance of attending a workshop.
Our San Francisco Plein Air Painting Experience starts at Fort Mason Center. From here we navigate to some of the best views in the City. All viewpoints are within a short walk of our meeting location, the FLAX art and design art store, where you will pick up your paint kits and meet your instructor. The group painting is chosen the day of the event by your instructor and is based on many factors such as the weather, wind, and other activities in the area. You are encouraged to paint with the instructor and example, but we don't stop participants from veering on their own path. You are also welcome to purchase multiple canvases from our partners at FLAX to continue painting after the workshop. Painting options include (and are not limited to): Golden Gate Bridge, Meadow Park, Alcatraz, downtown San Francisco, old Fort Mason Firehouse, twisted cypress overlooking the bay, Fort Mason architecture, sailboats in the harbor, and more.
Materials And Logistics
The meeting location and materials for our Plein Air workshops start at FLAX in Fort Mason Center, located at 2 Marina Blvd, Landmark Building D, in between Crissy Field and Fisherman’s Wharf on the waterfront. Your RSVP covers art materials from FLAX, instruction, aprons, and viewfinders. You will pick up your materials the day of your workshop and meet your instructor just outside the Flax store. The Paint Kits are yours to keep and the easels, aprons, and viewfinders must be returned. Please arrive 15 minutes early at FLAX to pick up all your materials and meet your instructor!
Paint sets come in two grades: Basic and Pro. Basic kits are comprised of brushes, Amsterdam acrylic paint pots, a palette, ruler and an 11x14 canvas board that can be easily transported or packed into your bag. Pro sets are upgraded to professional quality paint tubes (Golden) and a larger stretched canvas. These kits are yours to keep and continue to use after the workshop! Classes range from $67.50-$119.75 (not including registration fees), and includes easel rental. Find out more about your kits HERE.
These San Francisco views are packed with history! Our starting point, Fort Mason, was a former US Army post for nearly a century. The buildings and piers were built to warehouse army supplies in 1912. Today Fort Mason is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is a National Historic Landmark District with over 49 buildings and 1,200 acres. Other views include Alcatraz Island, a federal prison that housed America's most dangerous felons during its operation from 1934 to 1963, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge, the most photographed bridge in the world. Come paint these amazing sights and many more!
Art and Culture in the Area
San Francisco has a long history of art from music to painting and performance. Fort Mason is now a nonprofit Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC). FMCAC hosts evolving artistic programs and attracts over 1.4 million visitors each year. This includes theater and dance performances, art installations, as well as educational and cultural classes (like Plein Air workshops with Beyond Canvas and FLAX art & design). You can also find pop-up arts and craft shows, two museums, and many places to grab a bite, including Sunday’s Farmer’s Market! Enjoy the Arts in the Parks program by the National Park Service and the current Nelson Sairs exhibit on Alcatraz.
North Bay: By Public Transit take Golden Gate Transit bus 4 into San Francisco to bus 28, 43, or 47. By car take US-101 S to Girard Rd in San Francisco. Take exit 437 Marina Blvd toward Presidio. Follow Marina Blvd to Fort Mason Center, Landmark Building D, 2 Marina Drive.
East Bay: By public transit take BART to MUNI bus 30, 30x, 41, or 43. By car take I-80 W across the Bay Bridge, take exit 2C Fremont St to The Embarcadero and Bay St. to Laguna St.
Upon arriving at FLAX, head inside to pick up your materials from the front desk, and meet with your teacher just outside the door. From here you will walk to your view for the day together!
Fort Mason Center has a large parking lot and parking rates start at $2.00 an hour.