Thursday, September 22, 2011

What to Bring When Plein Air Painting

Having just begun to try 'En Plein Air' painting, I have been thinking that it might be helpful to others, thinking of trying it, to share some of my experiences.

I like to think I am a quick learner and I did not just pick up my easel and head on out to paint without some thought and planning. I had read some articles online and did a bit of investigation into what is required to achieve this goal.

Let me assure you, it takes a bit more thought and planning than first realized.

Over the next week or so, I will share my experiences and what I have learned so far (with much to learn yet).

First, do your homework. Check online for information on what is needed to paint outside. The first thing I learned was just how much you have to think about it initially. Just preparing your equipment can be a challenge. The good thing is that once you have everything you think you need, you can keep it together in one spot, so  when you get the time and/or urge to head out to paint outdoors, you can just grab it all and go.

You need something to paint on such as an easel. With this you have to decide what  medium you are going to use to paint with. I chose oil paint, but I have now modified that already to water soluble oils so I don't have to worry about the hassle of dealing with solvents. This is where I discovered you need good, leak-proof (is there really such a thing?) container for your solvents if you do choose to use them. I also wanted to use the medium, Liquin which needs to be shaded from the sunlight and of course you don't want to bring along big containers of the stuff. Same with your paints. I bought the smaller, 1.25 fl oz. tubes for this. Some artists even just squeeze out the paint they think they will use for that day onto their pallet before they leave the studio; having a "paint box" that allows them to carry wet paint on a pallet without it touching anything. This can be as expensive an endeavour as you can afford. I prefer to utilize what I have on hand rather than investing hundreds of dollars in a special "Plein Air " contraption that someone thoughtfully designed. I may one day invest in something of the sort, but not just yet.

So you can see already there needs to be some careful thought and planning done before you ever go out the door.
I must confess this; the very first time I headed out to paint at the beach...we (as my husband loaded the vehicle) forgot my canvas! Can you imagine!? I did however remember my sketch book and pencil case so all was not lost! We loaded up in a hurry as it was getting late and I didn't want to miss the sun! ( :

The second time I tried it, I forgot my camera...I recommend you don't go without your camera. The lighting actually can change dramatically and if you can capture a lighting effect with your camera before it changes, you can complete your painting back in your studio, if you so choose to, and use the lighting effect you like.

I don't have one of those "photographic memories" (don't have much of a memory period), so I don't go out without my camera! Ever!

While on the topic of cameras...I do take my camera with us on trips and keep it handy on my lap wherever we go. You just never know what your going to come across (see photos below).

This just struck me as odd...but as you see, there is actually a hitching post there, so this would actually be a common scene.!?
I snapped this one while traveling up to the Bruce Peninsula. Obviously Amish country.

And here we have a good advertising idea! Really gets your attention when driving by! This was also taken on our way up to "The Bruce". I forget the name of this town...but sure do remember the motorcycle shop!

I am not going to go into great, great detail in describing what you need to paint outdoors in this post, as you can easily find the basic informaion online.

What you might not find easily online is all the little things that one discovers along the way. Really, there are several options and it comes down to personal preference. I find that if you can learn a few little things from the adventures of others, you can avoid some pitfalls and that can make the difference, between having an enjoyable adventure and maybe doing it again, or maybe not.

Next post I will talk more about what I bring set up. I have two that I use and it all depends on where I am going ultimately.

Quote of the Day:

"Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries".

James A. Mitchener 1907-1997 American writer.

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