Monday, October 3, 2011

En Plein Air - What to bring

Let me make it clear here. I am new to this, but since it is fresh in my mind and I really still have to think through things, I thought it might be a good time to share what I am learning with others;



My 2nd attempt at painting outdoors.
In my previous post I explained that I had now switched to water soluble oils. I really prefer painting in oil, but that is entirely personal preference. I will, therefor, talk about painting outdoors with oils.

My first couple tries at Plein Air Painting went something like this;

Get to destination and unload paint box (black plastic tool case) and easel (telescoping steel), solvent (which spilled a bit), soap ( I use the green soap bar, forget what its called) for clean up afterwards, a few rags and I use those blue paper shop towels instead of regular paper towels as they don't have a pattern in them so when I use them to wipe paint off my canvas or for blending my base color on my canvas, there is no pattern left on the canvas to contend with and they are just tougher.
Then I discovered...no canvases. In our haste to get to the beach before the sun went down (lost my light), we forgot to bring the big flat box containing my 11" x 14" canvases. You need something like a flat box to transport your wet (oil) paintings home.

We used a cooler box to transport some of this in and mainly used it as a little table or platform for me to set my pallet on.

We brought my new folding chair (which actually has a little table that folds down) and bug repellent as the bugs get bad right after the sun goes down.

So...I packed it all back up and grabbed my trusty 7" x 7" sketch book and pencil case and we walked out onto the pier. I would be lying if I said I was not a little disappointed in myself! The sketching was little solice I'm afraid. Lets just say, it probably won't happen again.
 The next night we made it back to the beach, in the exact same spot and I started quite a large painting of the cement and stone pier that juts out into Lake Erie. This is where I discovered what they talk about working in a small format. You just don't have the time to paint larger works...so keep it small! May I suggest 9" x 12" being the largest unless you know you have the whole entire day (or your a really fast painter). These are really meant to be studies to learn lighting effects and designing layouts etc. There is so much to paint in you field of view, you would be better off painting several smaller works than one large one. I think you will learn more that way.


The next week, I was a little better prepared. This time I tried a smaller container for my solvent, that should have stayed sealed...but those jars are just not meant to be on their side for any length of time. ALWAYS store and carry your liquids upright! Yes, they spilt a bit again, but this time it was in the cooler.
This time I tried my "French Easel" so that I did not have to carry the black tool box. I found a way to bring everything I needed, even 7 brushes, in my French Easel. A little more of a compact set up. The French Easel is a paint box on legs. They remind me of some sort of alien being with spider legs and can be finnicky on a good day, but once you get the hang of it, they set up pretty fast.

I was able to almost finish an 8" x 10" painting of the atmosphere effects at Port Burwell beach when the sun goes down. There was a thicker fog that night as there was a lot of humidity that day.



Detailed close up of a painting I did (my 3rd attempt at painting outdoors).
 Mission accomplished.

Now, I still was not happy with my set up and did a bit more research and rearranging and decided that I can always use my lap to rest my paint box/easel and put my pallet on a rock or something. This is what I did at Tobermory a couple weekends ago. This really cuts down on what you have to haul around with you. I did bring sunblock, but got a bit of a burn just the same. Mostly my right side.

And by now I had decided upon water soluble oils. That way, if my water container spills, no biggy. Easy enough to bring a bottle of water or...since I was painting at the beach, just dip your water can into the lake or a puddle, or whatever (make sure its relatively clean).


Plein Air painting Tobermory, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada.


I purchased the following colors to start with;

Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours:

Cadmium Red Deep Hue
Prussian Blue
Payne's Gray
Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue
Cadmium Orange Hue
Burnt Sienna
Burnt Umber
Lamp Black
French Ultramarine (Blue)
Titanium White

I also invested in the W & N Artisan Water Mixable Oil Fast Drying Medium to aid in quickening the drying time for my paintings.

I think this is more than enough information for this post...stay tuned for more tips on Plein Air painting (sometimes learned the hard way).

Bible Passage of the Day;

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. " Galatians 5:22

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