Painting of an Airstream - Tim Horn, “American Flamingo,” 24 x 30 in., oil on canvas, private collection
Tim Horn, “American Flamingo,” 24 x 30 in., oil on canvas, private collection

The following is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who will be joining us on the faculty of Plein Air Live, March 6-8, 2024, with an Essential Techniques Day on March 5.

Tim Horn On His Painting, “American Flamingo”

I painted this from a reference photo around 2014. The photo was more complicated with several trucks in the background, which I didn’t want to include. I decided to try and make it look like a scene in Florida, so I excluded the trucks and added the suggestion of a beach and the ocean in the background. Then I thought a couple of pink flamingos might help make it look even more like Florida. I’ve been painting Airstreams for almost 20 years, so I now know that those window awnings are pretty rare and add a lot of character to the scene.

When I started painting I was strictly a plein air painter for several years. Then slowly I started doing more and more work in the studio. Now about half my work is plein air, and the rest is studio painting, usually from photo reference. Having painted outdoors from life for so long has really helped me with my studio work. There are certain aspects of a scene that can’t be captured by a camera. Painting plein air also forces me to work faster, which gives the work a looseness and freshness that is very difficult to achieve in the studio.

Most of my work includes structural elements like old buildings or old cars. For Plein Air Live I painted an old house in Sausalito that was originally built as military housing over 100 years ago and is now part of a fancy resort. It’s a beautiful setting with a backdrop of cypress trees and a classic California golden hillside. In part, it’s an exercise in simplification. There are a lot of details in the building, but I only put in what I feel is necessary.

Learn more and watch the demo with others from around the world at the 5th Annual Plein Air Live virtual art conference:

Connect with Tim Horn at

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