Leave the walls of your studio behind and step outside to experience painting the landscape in the fresh air with the sun on your shoulders.

The art of painting outside goes back to the first French Impressionists, whose desire to paint light and its changing, fleeting qualities led them to step outside their studios and into their surroundings. At that time, transportable paint tubes and the box easel had also become available, making it easier than ever to be mobile and paint “en plein air,” the French expression for “in the open air.”

There are hundreds of plein air organizations and festivals through the county, and Colorado is no exception. Some of the largest in the state are the Plein Air Artists of Colorado and the Red Brick Plein Air Festival. In Fremont County, the Bell Tower Cultural Center offers Paint the Town, six days of plein air painting amid the charming sights in and around historic downtown Florence.

For those artists who want to strike out on their own, the Royal Gorge Region offers dozens of beautiful locations perfect for plein air painting. For scenic painting, the list is literally endless. Some exceptional locations include the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, Temple Canyon Park, Garden Park, Red Canyon Park, and Skyline Drive. History buffs can park their easels in Historic Downtown Cañon City or Historic Downtown Florence. Or, they can head over to the Santa Fe Depot for a chance to paint the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. In the area’s local orchards, blossoming fruit trees line green meadows, and near Cripple Creek and the Victor Mining District, remnants of the area’s mining days remain—perfect features to capture in paint.