Impressionist artists like Monet and Renoir are famous for their exquisite plein air paintings which captured the atmosphere of the outdoors at a specific moment in time. Contemporary painters carry on this splendid tradition while finding subtle ways to keep the practice new and exciting. Colorado-based artist Remington Robinson creates miniature masterpieces of scenery in the U.S. and abroad and houses them inside of Altoid tins.
Robinson velcros small, primed wooden panels onto the lids of emptied mint containers before traveling to a new painting site and then uses the metal canister as the palette for his array of oil paints. “I use a new container every time, and when I am finished, the painting stays with the container it was painted in, complete with the palette of paint that was used to create it,” Robinson explains. “It then is basically like a little art artifact. The leftover paint stays in the container, and I just let it dry. I don’t consider it to be wasting the ‘unused' paint that is left in the container after the painting is complete, because that too is, in a way, part of the art piece.”
Once he is done, Robinson photographs the completed piece in front of its original location so viewers can compare his realistic representation with the real thing.
The artist has taken his Altoid series to a variety of different landscapes, such as farms, mountains, forests, beaches, and even into the city. Robinson says that the small size of these pieces has made plein air painting “very accessible” and “opened the door to the possibility of being a prolific artist.”
Amazingly, these pocket-sized artworks appear just as realistic and detailed as large-scale paintings. Robinson uses fine-tipped paintbrushes to carefully render the light and shadow of his subjects. “Painting small requires detail, and it helps to have a background in photo-realism painting,” he continues. “Then, each miniature painting can be likened to a small section of a larger photo-realism painting. One thing that maybe makes painting in miniature different is that it is important to make the work readable to the eye. Don’t try to include too many distracting elements in the composition.”