Painting outdoors can be a pleasure and a pain, I can remember so many times when I’ve been rained off or sunburned due to forgetting to take a large hat but overall it’s been an enjoyable experience for me. In this article I’ll attempt to explain how I do it and the equipment I use.
(1) Equipment- First off make sure you have everything with you that you’re likely to need. I take a large open plastic toolbox which has a couple of sliding drawers and strong handle, into which I put my oil paints, brushes, various mediums, turpentine and various other bits and bobs.Don’t forget the easel(I have in the past arrived at my location with the easel still at home, also a folding chair and sunhat, which as I explained above is essential if its sunny, and a folding umbrella if its looking like rain. Many a time I’ve had to dash to the car whilst trying to carry all my kit and balance an umbrella over my painting, its a sight to behold I promise.
I always take my camera to record the scene as often I can’t get back if I’m rained off and then I can finish the painting in my studio.
(2) Setting up- I try to select my location with a possible purchaser in mind. Unless you’re painting for your own pleasure don’t pick a bland landscape with a flat field and maybe a couple of trees, people seem to like scenes with water, bridges, flowers etc. Try and set up with the lighting in mind, I prefer the light coming from one side or the other rather than directly behind me or in front although light directly behind a tree can create a very dramatic painting. Light from the sides also makes it easier to create strong shadows and give depth to a painting. I always choose a location that won’t have people walking past me all day, or go on a weekday when most folk are at work, otherwise you get inundated with comments like, (My auntie does watercolours) everyone seems to have a relative that paints, or, (You’ve missed a branch on that tree) like you have to paint exactly whats there. Constructive comments are fine and I’ve had many an interesting conversation while out painting but if you want to get the job done you have to paint. The only other benefit of having people see you paint is its often possible to sell your painting while you’re there, this happened to me on several occasions.
(3)Tips on painting- There are many ways to start a painting but I make a very rough sketch first, literally just an outline of the scene. Some people spend ages sketching out but I can’t see the point as I’m going to paint over it anyway, the only exception I have is if I’m painting buildings and have to spend some time on the perspective, then it can take a little longer but normally about five minutes maximum is spent on sketching. I always start with the sky and work down the canvas to the foreground, this makes it easier for me because every part of the image overlaps the other and I don’t have start painting around tree branches etc after I’ve painted them in. I try and work fairly quickly to capture the moment but still like to see some detail so often add this in the studio after. So many artists attempt to paint a sunny day and the finished result looks flat and unlit, mainly because they don’t give enough thought to the colours they use Always use strong dark colours against lights as this makes the painting come alive, creating strong shadows against highlights really makes a painting zing.
(4) What not to do- Something ridiculous always seems to happen to me when out painting. On one occasion I moved my chair back to look at my painting from a distance, as I stood looking at the painting I put my palette down on the chair, after looking for another minute I promptly sat down on the palette covering my rear in oil paints, not a good idea. On another occasion I had a bit to drink (A birthday celebration) the night before I was due to enter a painting competition, I woke up feeling a bit rough but decided to go out and paint anyway. By the time I got to the location (A riverside) I was feeling awful and whilst setting up my easel I slipped on the riverbank and fell in the river, so no painting was done that day. Beware of dogs, they just love to steal paintbrushes, knock your turps over, walk over your palette etc.
(5) Packing up- Wet oil paintings are difficult to transport, particularly when carrying other equipment as well so i’ve made a device that holds my painting between two hardboard panels that don’t touch the artwork on the face of the painting, this works fine but because of the design means I often only paint to the size that fits my holder so there is an opening for someone to design an adjustable holder for wet oil paintings.
So there it is, painting outdoors in a nutshell.
#Painting #Landscapes #Outdoors
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