10 TIPS TO PREPARE
FOR PLEIN AIR PAINTING
1. CLOTHING- Dress for the weather of the season and in layers. Prepare for all types of temperatures and conditions. Hats are of prime importance in all-weather. Bring good gloves for colder weather. A good pair of outdoor walking/hiking shoes is a must. Also, it’s best NOT to wear sunglasses while painting.
2. EQUIPMENT/SKETCHBOOK- Remember, less is more. Use light-weight outdoor painting gear, easels, canvas boards or pastel panels. Use an organized oil palette or organized pastel holder. Have a small sketch book with you and some type of drawing implements from pencils to markers. Again, always consider the weight. I have found having an organized and designated plein air equipment ready to go at a moment notice really helps to stay inspired and ready for plein air practice. Keep equipment in your car if possible.
3. BUGSPRAY/SUNBLOCK/WATER- Always have these items in one’s car and the sunblock should be a high SPF. Bring bottled water to drink at your painting location.
4. SCOUTING LOCATIONS- Find a place you feel comfortable, safe and inspired. Look for interesting arrangements of light and shadow. Always consider painting mostly shadow or mostly light in the shapes never light and shadow that is of the same proportions. Paint for yourself first and foremost.
5. SEASONS- Paint in all season and weather conditions to get a true sense of local color and conditions throughout the year. This experience helps one gain a good feeling for the seasons and the difference we could use for contrasts
6. TIME- Best time is anytime one paints, but the best lighting conditions are early morning sunrise to midmorning or late afternoon into sunset.
7. WEATHER- Always be on the lookout for the weather forecast. Don’t get caught unaware. Be on the watch for Wind, be close to your set up if wind is present so you can hold your painting equipment, so it does not get blown over.
8. STORAGE- You will need a place to store wet oil paintings and to keep pastels safe in transport.
9. REFRENCE GATHERING- Use a good quality small digital camera. I like to use the Nikon Coolpix 8X wide. Keep it close to you and easy to get to for sudden lighting changes that are inspiring. Take photos while you are walking to the painting location and while walking back to your car.
10. SKETCH OR STUDY- When going outdoors to paint, consider these two approaches: a study is an intellectual look at objects as they truly are (usually close studies of rocks, trees, clouds, vegetation) and a sketch is a broad view an impression of big shapes and a value and color study done loosely.