A Plein-air Year

Personal goals are important to me and early in 2023 I had a big one… I have always been intimidated by the idea of painting on location, En plein air, also known as plein-air painting. It is the simple act of painting outdoors. I was afraid my paintings wouldn’t be “good enough”, and that I had to create something I was proud of right from the start. It took time for me to realize it didn’t matter what resulted on location and that anything I painted on site was just a sketch, a memory for when I had time back in the studio to explore in greater depth what it was that caught my attention in the first place.

Traveling to New Mexico was a huge artistic inspiration, I finally started to learn to not be intimidated by a sketch book! I hiked and was “in the moment” surrounded by nature … sketching with just a few pastels, watercolors, and a sharpie marker. I finally discovered the freedom to not overthink.

A painting of mountains with a sky background
A table with an open book and some paint

Visiting my children in San Diego a couple months later allowed for the opportunity to hike Torrey Pines. I had never been there before and viewing the mountainous hills and ocean made for incredible inspiration.

Hiking Torrey Pines

My sketches lead to the largest pastel painting I have done to date, 32″x45″.

A painting of a grassy area with many flowers.
Torrey Pines Hike
soft pastel on board
32” x 45”

Visiting Israel was a life changing experience. I had never been there before and we went from one end of the country to the other end with plenty of stops along the way. The summer heat made sketching a challenge and my sketch book only came out at cool-down times.

Rosh HaNikra is located on the border of Israel and Lebanon and is known for the grottos and caves but I was intrigued by the simple coastline along the Mediterranean.

Rosh HaNikra, looking south along the Israeli coast

Another favorite cool-down spot was the Tel Dan nature reserve. The Dan Stream rises in the Tel Dan nature reserve – the largest and most important of the sources of the Jordan River.

Tel Dan, the sound of a water stream running between the bamboo and rocks

The highlight of 2023 was marrying my Beshert, wikipedia’s definition – Bashert or beshert; Yiddish: means “destiny”. We have been so blessed to have found each other.

I do not believe in New Year resolutions but I am always setting new goals for myself. I just haven’t figured out what the next one will be yet.

Happy New Year! Wishing all health, happiness, and Peace in the coming year.


  1. Jonathan daCosta on December 31, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    And its only just begun

    • rsamiljan on December 31, 2023 at 9:29 pm

      Hiking and sketching is now a new favorite combo, thanks to you!

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