An endless source of inspiration…
No need to hike everyone up a mountain, a simple comfortable spot such as a community park, city square or even someone’s garden will do just as well as a location for members to capture composition and socialise with their fellow artists. We’ve got some advice to help you get started.
“Plein Air” Painting
When you go out to paint for the first time, it is quite common to be overwhelmed by what you see and absently forget the painting session. So it may be preferable, for a beginner, to start by painting a view from inside, looking out an open window for example.
When you are done with this step, you can start to move outside to a familiar environment. It is often preferable to go out with just one pad to make sketches first. Once you have found a place that you like, just stop and make a series of quick sketches. Don’t worry about capturing a whole scene, look for a bold shape or an interesting contrast of colour or shadow. If you’re planning to work on your composition further at home make some simple pencil sketches to lay a foundation, showing the atmosphere of the place and your impressions on the colours that you see. It can also be useful to take a few photographs.
Poole & East Dorset Art Society
Explore your location
Nothing is more annoying than people looking over your shoulder and making comments while you are working, so it is preferable to find a place sheltered from view. Even professional outdoor painters explore the location before choosing their spot. Assess the location, the light, and importantly the accessibility. A place can have a heavenly view, but if it is not very accessible a long walk would ruin all the pleasure. Ideally you should start close to your home so that you can get used to these unusual work conditions.
To be comfortable on your outings, choose your equipment well, knowing that you will not have every convenience that your studio can offer you whilst still being able to travel light. There is basic equipment for every type of painting so create a capsule kit that is fit for purpose. Dry colours such as pastel, charcoal and colour pencils are light and easily transportable in a bag. The lightest painting equipment will be a small watercolour set, equipped with 3 or 4 brushes, and a little pad or block. As oil paints and acrylic paints are heavier, you should limit yourself to a palette of basic colours.
A little stool is useful because you will quickly grow tired of standing up. The easel is another essential tool, but be sure to choose one made of a light material such as aluminium.
As a precaution, take a plastic sheet or bag to protect your equipment and work if it starts raining.
The last essential accessory is a camera, preferably with a zoom function. It can seem ironic at first, but even for outdoor painting, most of the time the work is still finished at home, not outside!