Editor's Note: This story is part of the Vitality Arts Special Report.
Paul T. Boecher, 76, considers himself an all-around artist rather than a specialist. He’s been painting, sculpting and carving since his high school days in Milwaukee. His high school art teacher recognized his talents early and challenged him to carve a ram's head out of limestone while his classmates were working with milk cartons.
Although Boecher took art classes at Chicago Institute of Arts, Layton School of Art and Marquette University, he didn’t complete a degree. That didn’t stop him from being a successful art director in the ad business for 44 years. Ten years ago, he added teaching to his repertoire.
One of several instructors at the Rumriver Art Center in Anoka, Minn., Boecher recently carried on the tradition of challenging his students by leaving the four walls of the art center for a class en plein air, which is French for "the art of painting outdoors." The temperature? 19 degrees.
The hardy group of older artists met outdoors on an overcast day and preceded to follow in the footsteps of French Impressionists Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir, who made the en plein air art form famous. View the accompanying slideshow to see how the students learned to do it.