Preparing to work outside 'en plein air'

Hi there,

Well what a busy week I've had this week both artistically and with my landscape students.I would like to concentrate on my teaching in this blog post today as so much came out of Fridays landscape sesssion.

Firstly lets just take the oportunity to talk about preparing to work outside for the coming spring and summer. As we discussed working outside is quite a different experience to working in the studio and it can be a little overwhelming at first, however with a few tips and a little courage to stick at it ,your patience will be rewarded with many years of relaxing intuitive expressive paintings. I find it such a joy to work outside, but I also realise its not for everyone and I know many artists that prefer to work in their studio, I favour a healthy mix of both.

So why bother working outside I hear you say, when we have easy access to good images now. The simple answer to this is, the joy that comes in being outside being in and of the landscape with all its sounds and smells,a sensual journey and it can definitely be a very meditative experience. On a more technical note our cameras although very useful dont catch all wavelengths of light so some colours are not represented on our images. I would be happy to chat to you about this in more detail should you be interested.

Now lets talk about painting outside and the things that you may need to consider before venturing out to make the experience more enjoyable.I think this comes down to,what you wear , what you take with you and coping with possible passers by.

I personally make sure I wear plenty of layers when I venture out and I usually have a hat with a peak and a pair of sunglasses optional, I find these prevent me from getting eye strain.For those of you that paint with me regularly you know that I am never without a trusty apron, this is not because I have a wish to look like Holly Hobby despite what others might think, but because I m a messy worker and aprons are great for carrying tools and rags and make these easily accessibleas you work.

The equipment you take with you is a personal thing and you will hoan this down with experience quickly. However I would suggest you have the following to get you started

View finder [This can be as simple as a hole made in a piece of cereal packet]


Sketch book

Camera [phone]

Choice of media [ie watercolour,acrylic,oils,pastels etc] and any water or solvents necessary