If you’ve followed me for some time then you’ve probably noticed that I like to shake things up a bit when I paint! Whether that means flipping a piece of furniture upside down or turning my canvas around, I like to get a new perspective on things. Lately
Painting outside, also known as en plein air, is one of those things that feels very daunting. There’s really no safety net when you make a mistake because it’s just you and the canvas and whatever supplies you manage to haul outside BUT… that’s kind of the point!
Painting En Plein Air
Is it scary to haul a canvas outside? A little. Is it worth it? OH YEAH! Painting outdoors forces you to think outside the box – literally! It gets you out of the four walls of your home or studio and asks you to find inspiration in the world around you. You get to truly paint in the moment; putting your feelings and experiences on the canvas right as they happen!
And it’s simply not possible to find better lighting than the bright, gorgeous sunshine! I love to paint in my garden where I can see the light shining on and through the leaves and petals. I swear I discover new shapes and colors every single time I decide to bring a canvas outside. It was so nice out for the past few weeks that I painted outside nearly every single day!
Tips for Painting Outdoors
Bring your supplies with you, but don’t haul out the whole studio! I use a rolling cart for my supplies but some people choose to limit themselves to just a basket.
Sometimes the best way to start is to choose just one thing to focus on. Want to hone your lighting? Detail? Color? Composition? Pick one particular skill and allow yourself to focus on just that.
Invest in a solid easel!
Avoid windy days, especially with larger canvases. The wind will catch those things and knock ‘em right over!
Choose the right medium. Personally, I think that DIY Paints or watercolors are best suited for painting outside because they dry quickly, allowing you to get a lot of work done without having to waste time (and lose light!) in between layers, but they are also reactivated with water for blending.
Be patient with yourself! It’s about the process, not the product.
Painting outside is something that every artist should challenge themselves to do often, just as we challenge ourselves to tackle new subjects, canvases, and mediums! You don’t have to paint, either. Try carrying around a sketchbook and practicing quick sketches of the people and places you encounter. If you’re stuck at home, hop on YouTube for a digital tour of a city you’ve always wanted to visit. It might not be as invigorating to paint outside, but learning to paint unfamiliar scenes is just one of the many ways in which we can grow as artists.
What do you think? Will you make your own “outdoor studio” anytime soon?