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Quarterly Digest

June 24, 2022

And the winners are…!

MPAS SPRING FEVER 2022 Online Contest

1st Place Pete Quaid with Plein Bluebonnets in oil $25 Gift Certificate from Asel Art Supply

2nd Place Deana McGarr Celebration of Faith, mixed media $15 Gift Certificate from Asel Art Supply


You can see all the entries for the MPAS Spring Fever 2022 Online Contest HERE.

Please support our wonderful sponsor ASEL ART SUPPLY. You can visit one of their area stores or shop online at

The theme of our next contest is Skies of Summer. The deadline for submission is September 21 at midnight. And don’t forget to be working on your nocturnal painting for the Stars at Night contest which will be due January 11. Asel Art Supply has generously donated gift certificates for each of our contests – $25 for 1st place and $15 for 2nd place.

We are off to a GREAT start!!

Thanks to all of you who have joined, signed up for the mailing list, entered the online contest, and attended our Paint Outs. We have had so much fun painting outdoors on location. What a great group of artists to be with!

Our group continues to grow. There’s something special about being out in Nature and painting, drawing, sketching, or photographing. Our members range in all levels of skill and all types of mediums. It’s really been a great learning experience on so many levels. And it is just so much fun to be outdoors together doing what we love.



Plain fun at our Plein Air Paint Outs

We have had so much fun at our Plein Air Paint Outs. And we’ve gotten some painting done too! On May 7, we met at the beautiful garden of master gardener Renee Wrenwood. The Bonnie Wenk Park was the location of our June 4 Paint Out.

Please note that the location has changed for our July 2 Paint Out – it will be held at the Towne Lake Recreation Center in McKinney. We will paint for most of the morning. There’s lots of shade and lots of views. Then around 11:00 Marie Blocker will show us how to create videos and reels for our social media posts. Plan for a fun time painting together and getting to know one another.

NEXT PAINTOUT: July 2 – Recreation Center at Towne Lake. 2001 S. Central Expwy McKinney, TX. 8:00 a.m. until Noonish.

A little art history about plein air painting


You may be wondering about the name of our newsletter – Notan News.

In plein air landscape painting, Notan is more than merely depicting light and shadow. Instead, the artist uses every line, light and dark to create a deliberate design. The Notan is an ideal type of study for finding the shapes and patterns that serve as the foundation of every composition. Watch Mitch Albala’s 13-minute video introduction: Understanding Composition through Shape and Notan.

Notan is the soul of a painting. Think yin and yang. Black and white.

Take a look at Barry John Reybould’s 3-minute video “What is Notan.”

Apps are quite a helpful tool for artists. The Notanizer app is good for seeing Notan in your landscape. It costs $1.99. You can learn more about it here. Even better is a free app, called Value Study. While it does not specialize in Notan, you can achieve Notan effects with it. Either app or both would be valuable in helping to create good compositions.

Notan design is the process of how you plan the darks, lights and grays in a painting. If you create a good notan design in your painting, it does not matter so much which colors you actually use – your painting will still have a strong effect. It is the underlying value structure of your painting in its simplest form.

Notan is important in a painting because it is the fundamental building block of your design. It is the abstract design of the painting in its simplest form – without any color. You need a strong notan design as a framework for building the rest of the design of the painting.

Because the light moves and changes so quickly as we are painting outdoors, it is really important to do Notan sketches and refer to them to keep the play of light and dark in our paintings consistent and the composition strong.

The Top 10 Tips For Creating Great Notans

  1. Squint at your subject and try to assign all the shapes you see to two, three or four values. The number of values you actually see will, of course, be huge, but it is important to assign each shape to the nearest one of these values.

  2. Use brush pens to create them. These tools are more like brushes than drawing tools.

  3. The exact contour of the shape is not important, only the approximate size and placement in the picture. I prefer to refer to them as “paintings” rather than drawings or sketches.

  4. Make sure one value predominates. In other words it should cover more than half of the painting.

  5. Make sure you do not divide the other values evenly. One should occupy more area of your painting.

  6. The fewer the number of values, the stronger the Notan structure.

  7. If you use smooth gradations in your painting, keep the values within a narrow range so as not to break the structure.

  8. The fewer gradations you have, the stronger will be your design structure. Look at the work of JMW Turner for examples.

  9. You can key your painting into high key, a full range of values, or low key. It makes no difference to the strength of the design.

  10. Be careful not to lose your structure as you add detail. This is the single most common reason for a weak structure.

Learn more from these sources:

Member News!

Pernie Fallon

Pernie participated in the inaugural Wine and Walls MuralFest at the MillHouse in McKinney. Over two long and hot days, she painted this 8 ft. X 22 ft. mural called “Here Comes the Sun” as a symbol of hope for Ukraine, Uvalde, and all who face new beginnings. At McKinney’s old cotton mill, it’s a great backdrop for selfies or family photos.

Janis Buck, Linda Herbert, and Deana McGarr,

Several of our MPAS members were part of a group show, Garden Party, curated by Darby LaGrave. The exhibition offered a fresh bouquet of artists inspired by the beauty of spring gardens.

We’d love to include your news in the newsletter! Send to Pernie Fallon at

Mark your calendar for the first ever McKinney En Plein Air 2022 event!

OCTOBER 15, 2022

Our first McKinney En Plein Air event will be on October 15, 2022. We will spend a day at the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary painting flora, fauna, and even dinosaurs! That afternoon we will have a pop up art exhibition judged by a well-known plein air painter. Cash prizes will be given in several categories. We will also have a chance to mentor young artists in the art of plein air painting. Your participation in this fun event will guarantee its success.

Other Plein Air info

EnPleinAir Texas 2022 in San Angelo October 21 - 29

Sedona Plein Air Festival 2022 in Sedona, Arizona October 22 - 29

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