Plein air landscapes in watercolor by Carolyn Liedtke


   My experience with plein air painting began in the 1970s with Bob Shepherd, an outstanding artist who taught Watercolors at Oakton Community College in Skokie, Illinois. Bob’s idea of learning to paint with watercolors was to paint outdoors, on location, whatever the weather. Every Saturday morning, rain or shine, his students would gather for breakfast and then journey to some nearby locale and paint (in cars if it was cold or raining, or sometimes from inside a building looking out of the window). We finished our paintings during the week and brought them back the following week for evaluation. It was a wonderful experience--I learned more from painting landscapes en plein air than I had from years of classes and workshops.

   Bob’s students went on to form the Illinois Watercolor Society Many became well-known artists. Others, like myself, were content to enjoy the camaraderie of painting with a group of artists and reap the benefits of the evaluations.

   Most of these watercolors are $399-499, plus mat and frame; View at my gallery at

N7244 Manske Road in Lake Mills (phone first: 920-648-7816) or contact:

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Rock Creek, Winter - I walk by this scene every day. The color combinations change, depending on season and time of day. Looks a lot different from the painting above, doesn’t it?.

Monarchs and Milkweed - This was easy to paint on location--it is right next to my driveway. Milkweeds are pretty plants--a shame to call them weeds, but I understand they are

toxic to cattle.

Rock Lake, East Shore - Background was painted on location. Photo was taken, and a magnifying glass was used to paint the details of the cottages and boat houses along the lake shore.

Misty Birches - This scene was painted from a slide I took many years ago in Door County (which won 2nd place in a photography competition). I had always wanted to do a watercolor of the misty scene, and now it is easy to transfer slide images to my computer and paint scenes as if I am looking through a window.

Below Zero - I caught this view on my way home late at night and snapped a picture. Too cold to paint in the car, so I came back in daylight to fill in the details unseen in the photo.

Aztalan, Winter - A group of us painted this in the summer (see above), but I went back one winter morning and composed a more dramatic viewpoint through my car windshield.

On the Trail - This was an on-location landscape, painted along the Glacial Drumlin Trail near Lake Mills. The biker was added later.

Heavy-Headed - Sunflowers bloomed early and were huge, but the drought got to them before I could paint them--Only a few survived and were used as models for the others.

Rock Creek Rising, I - In the spring, Rock Creek often takes overflow from Rock Lake and the Crawfish River--we jokingly refer to it then as Crawfish Lake.

Dimension of painting is 15x22”.

Rock Creek Rising, II -This is another painting of overflowing Rock Creek, on a March night with a full moon reflecting on the water.

Dimension of painting is 15x22”.