Ready for Outdoor Painting? Here’s a Plein Air Painting Checklist

By Jo-Ann Sanborn in Art Tutorials > Painting Tutorials

Spring is in the air, and for many artists that means it’s time for us to renew our acquaintance with the outdoors.

This simple list will remind you of the equipment that you’ll need to bring, as well as what to focus on while painting, in order to make painting “en plein air” a pleasure.

Painting Outside

What you will need for plein air painting:

1. Tubes of paint—ideally a limited palette

2. Several brushes

3. A portable, sturdy easel

4. Stretched canvases (or other kinds of support) to paint on

5. Wide hat, sunscreen, and bug repellant

6. Lots of water, both to drink and to clean your brushes (if applicable)

7. Turpentine or solvents (if applicable)

8. Lots of paper towels or rags

9. Trash bags to clean up after yourself

Things to remember when painting outdoors:

1. Don’t try to put it all in.

– Determine your focus, first.

– Place your horizon line—is it a landscape or skyscape?

– Create quick thumbnail compositions to save painting time.

– Move individual landscape elements to improve the composition.

2. The light will change while you’re out there. Live with it!

– Block in the main values simply and quickly.

– Work all over the canvas—get all your landscape elements in place.

– Don’t chase those shadows! Set them and leave them.

– Squint to establish values!

– Add color broadly, then refine/fix it as you go.

3. The atmosphere affects your colors. Use it!

– Colors become grayer and cooler in the distance!

– Compare your values and colors constantly.

– Use strong value changes and sharp edges to define your center of interest.

4. Step away from the canvas frequently.

– Renew your acquaintance with the landscape

– Rest and refresh your eyes

– And finally, remember to have fun, stay loose, and enjoy the view!

To learn more about Jo-Ann Sanborn, please visit her daily painting blog .


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