As he did last year, plein air artist Rich Stergulz concludes the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council’s popular speaker series.

Plein air, for the uninitiated, is a movement in fine art that gained prominence in the late 19th Century when painting outdoors in natural light became a signature of French impressionist painters Claude Monet, Camille Picaroon and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Light and how to paint capturing its subtleties was the reason plein air painting gained prominence and spread as a movement to Russia, England and the U.S. It is, as Stergulz will explain, still practiced widely.

A Murrieta resident, Stergulz ( is both a painter and educator. He offers classes in plein air, general and portrait art to painters from beginning level to more accomplished. He also conducts field trips to museums to instruct about featured art. “He is our best educator-artist,” said Mike Ahern, who will host Stergulz’s appearance at his Quiet Creek Living Room Gallery.

Stergulz said he knew from age 8 he wanted to be an artist. After graduating from the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1983, he launched a 25-year career in commercial art. Stergulz credits a diverse trio of painters, Russian impressionist Nicolai Fechin and Americans Norman Rockwell and John Singer Sargent as major influences in his own artistic development.

“I think I’m going to mix it up a bit this year,” said Stergulz. “Instead of just conducting a painting demonstration, I’ll make it more academic, explaining basic fundamentals at each step — why I chose a certain color and what steps can transform a good painting into a great one.” His subject this year is landscape painting.

His presentation, which the Art Alliance of Idyllwild is co-sponsoring, is at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 13. A wine and cheese reception at 5:30 p.m. precedes the presentation. Both are free to the public.