How to paint outdoors without stress. We are painting outdoors, amid nature, in the open air, with a bit of breeze that caresses our face and the joyful rays of the sun to cheer us up. An absolute dream, isn’t it? Not necessarily: if you don’t organize yourself perfectly, an outing to paint en Plein air can become an absolute nightmare. Those who are used to paint in the comfort of their studio, in an absolutely protected and perfectly known space, could encounter many difficulties in painting in the middle of nowhere. Think about it: you may find yourself having to paint on a steep and not perfectly homogeneous ground, light years away from the floor of your atelier – or simply of your home.
But that’s not all: painting outdoors means potentially forgetting any comfortable support, having to hold everything in your hand, having to deal with insects, with curious passers-by, with the lack of essential painting accessories, and so on. In short, painting outdoors could become an activity that is anything but fun and relaxing, completely overturning expectations. But it ought not to be that way: you need to organize yourself in the right way, concretely thinking about the critical issues you will have to face about drawing ideas.
General tips for painting outdoors
Before seeing which colors to bring with you to paint outdoors and which accessories should never be missing when you decide to paint in plain air, it is good to see some general advice. Those who have never tried to take tubes and brushes far away from its studio, in fact, most likely it does not know what awaits.
Don’t rush to finish the painting
Let’s start from a fundamental premise: painting en plain air does not mean leaving home with canvas, colors, and brushes and returning home with a finished painting. This way of thinking stems from the belief that the Impressionists, or the greatest lovers of outdoor painting, began and finished their works in a single session, and therefore in a handful of hours.
It is not the case: they were used to returning to the same place several times, to portray the same glimpse of the same view several times. This advice is essential. When you decide to paint outdoors, you need to proceed calmly, patiently, without trying to rush the pace. Going out with the idea of having to go home with a finished painting cannot put you in the right mood.
Finishing the painting indoors
But that’s not all: it must be emphasized that going out, and starting and ending a painting outdoors, is not a good idea at all. Instead, the finishing of an image should always be done indoors, in one’s studio. The reason is simple: that same painting, once exhibited, will not find space in the middle of a square, a lake, or a clearing, but rather inside a building.
However, the risk of painting from start to finish in the open air is to create a gloomy painting, or rather, a painting that, once brought inside, will seem too dark to us. It happens for the simple fact that outdoors – especially on a sunny day – one is prone to see colors a little lighter than they are. For this reason, on sunny days, it’s not a bad idea to bring a parasol with you.
What if homemade finishing isn’t enough for that work? What if, to finish a painting, it was necessary to return to the original place? In that case, it is good to remember to go back outdoors and get in the same spot, preferably already the next day or shortly after, at the same time, to take advantage of the same light and the same shadows.
Painting outdoors: you need an easel
Anyone who has already tried to paint outdoors knows it very well: it is necessary to have an easel with you. Of course, it is possible to go out into nature to make some sketches armed with a pad of paper, pencil, or charcoal, and nothing else. But drawing is one thing. Painting is quite another thing. To paint outdoors, you need to count on a stable support point for the support, be it a sheet of paper or a canvas. Therefore, it is necessary to have an easel, which gives us the possibility of having our canvas positioned in an ideal and stable way in front of us.
The campaign easel
For painting en Plein air in nature – and therefore on any terrain – the so-called “country easels” have been designed and perfected over time: these are three-legged easels, with telescopic feet, very light and slender. . We are therefore talking about extremely comfortable, space-saving and versatile trestles, which can be placed practically anywhere.
Of course, they also have flaws: they cannot be used with canvases that are too large, and they do not have any support, nor drawers in which to store brushes, paints, and pencils. For a painter who paints in the middle of nowhere – such as in the middle of a field – this means always having to hold the palette, and therefore always having – always – one hand busy, even when you want to open a tube of paint or when you want to clean a brush quickly.
Easels with color box
Here, this can create some stress if you are not organized well. In this case, easels equipped with a color box or a small shelf are therefore perfect. In doing so, however, the portability typical of country easels and their lightness is sacrificed. Also, for this reason, it is good to choose carefully the place to paint outdoors: a low wall, a stone, a bench, a cut log: it is essential to find a “makeshift support” to rely on.
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