Plein-air thread (post your pictures)

Hey all,

I invite you to join the conversation and talk about anything that has to do with painting out in the open. 
Preferably post pictures of your equipment, tools, pictures of your adventure and of course your input/tips about Plein-air in general. 

I hope it ends up as a big, on going thread,  in an effort to motivate my self and maybe others to paint more out in the open. 
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I'm new to this so I've realised i need to paint a bit more at the back of my garden, until i figure out exactly what i need to equip my self with before i head out in the wild. 
here's a DIY easel i made out of an art box (was getting dusted so i had to convert it for a different purpose):

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It's hard chasing the changes in light, but also a good lesson about the need to improve my drawing speed.
The biggest plus about painting out in the daylight is that it beats a screen every day. I can clearly see the colours especially in the shadows. 
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I'll probably try to finish it again tomorrow in the same location.

Thx for stopping by,
Marino

adridrikaustavMtassieguyAbstractionMichaelD

Comments

  • @adridri these are awesome.

    I got into plein air painting in 2017. It was just for my learning at that time. Since 2018 I got a small custom made thumbox and a bigger box to do it outdoors. My area at that time was with limited people so I could paint for hours but now it's difficult. I do plein air to catch the right perspective, color and (mentally edited) subject matter to produce a bigger painting in the studio. Below thread is about my development as a plein air painter

    https://forum.drawmixpaint.com/discussion/6956/outdoor-oil-sketches-kaustavs-plein-air-blog#latest
    adridriAbstractionMarinos_88
  • edited December 2022
    Great plein air kit and wonderful paintings, @adridri.
    adridri
  • @kaustavM you have some pretty nice sketches in this thread :)
  • Thanks @adridri I had to counter the problem of painting from photos only and replicating those photographic errors on canvas. This is how I had to do it. It's important to paint from life at least for some time.
    Abstraction
  • @adridri, are those watercolours with white gouache? That's really cool, some look like oils! (I do know about and read James Gourney sometimes, who does that too)
  • @adridri really cool stuff man!
    Do you mix the white gouache in watercolor? you're teaching me new tricks.I suppose i can get a bit more opacify out of watercolor by incorporating gouache?
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    It might be just a sketching set up but you can do so much more back in the studio with a good sketch and an image.
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    I've been doing Plein-air my self on holiday with watercolors and it's definitely by far the lightest - no fuss method for painting outside.

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    @kaustavM
    some good stuff posted on your thread and of course some lovely paintings. 
    Lots of useful information also, I'll read the entire thread when i get a chance. 


    kaustavMjoydeschenes
  • edited December 2022
    Yes it's watercolor and white gouache. I don't use watercolors transparently, it's an opaque approach from dark to light very much like oils or pure gouache setup, and not so much like traditional watercolor. In pure gouache the approach is usually 1) thin diluted washes to block in shapes and 2) build opaquely on top. diluted gouache is the same as watercolor so WC can replace gouache in step 1. For step 2, I just mix the white gouache with the colors to get opacity in the lights. The main advantage of this setup over a full gouache setup is that you can let WC dry in between outdoor sessions and white gouache stays in tube. So if outdoor sessions are far appart, you won't waste paint. Gouache will dry if left unused...

    Outremer I follow James Gurney also and i'm in the process of building his easel, that will be a nice improvement over my plastic easel.

    Marino, These sketches are great. If you incorporate white gouache in the setup, you will work out your oil painting skills since it's also dark to light. And drybrushing is quite fun to play with. James Gurney has a nice YT channel about this. I learned the technique in an online course by nathan Fowkes "lanscape sketching in WC and gouache" on schoolism, I loved it and recomend it.
    Adrien
  • edited December 2022
    Here is the james Gurney easel that I'm trying to build for outdoor sketching


  • Brilliant thread. I have holidays coming up - we get four weeks in Australia as standard - below the 6 weeks in Germany but well above the 2 weeks (called vacation) in US I guess. I want to get out and do my first plein air painting. I have a french easel and an Australian wife. I'll be perusing this thread to see if there is anything else I need. I'm looking forward to returning to painting in simplicity again, getting to the essence.
    Question: I'm not sure i could see the colours properly if I was in the Australian summer sun. It seems to me better to paint with some shade? What do people do to counter the brightness? (UK members don't need to respond. ;) )
    Marinos_88
  • @Abstraction yes it is generally recommended to be in the shade. People have special umbrellas + ombrella holders but cumbersome solution. Needs extra tripod for the umbrella. The kite umbrella system of Mr. Gurney in the video above is just awesome and compact and can attach to you painting box.
    Abstraction
  • @adridri, thanks for explaining! I did try that before. My problem was that for lighter detail, once you mix wc with gouache, it gets chalky and loses its colour. I tried to use more wc and even mix right in the wc pans (it's inexpensive study paint, no problem getting white in the pans). It worked somehow but was complicated. I thought that a better solution would be doing that and additionally glazing over the dried chalky areas.
  • Good thread @Marinos_88 and interesting posts.

    I too want to get out there and paint

    Ive actually treated myself and ordered (about a month ago) a pochade box which is being made and should be being shipped in about a month.

     :) 

    AbstractionMarinos_88
  • edited December 2022
    @Abstraction 4 weeks is good, you could not stand more in the Australian temperatures :) 
    Abstraction
  • edited December 2022
    @outremer yes I noticed that problem. I was thinking to try white and yellow gouache with WC to avoid the chalky effect. Did you actually try the glazing ? How did it go? We only get one stroke with dried gouache. I can imagine it being complicated for the second stroke, to join glazing on adjacent areas.

    @MichaelD great ! Send us pics of the setup once you receive it! Which one did you go for?

    @Marinos_88 what is your impression after the garden warm up?
  • @adridri, I did a fair amount of research and was considering one of the ones that look a bit like a wooden laptop.

    I have gone for the Alla Prima Bitterroot light. Its costing me a fair bit with the shipping to UK too, but by all accounts they are beautifully hand  made by Ben Haggett.


  • edited December 2022
    @MichaelD interesting design. I just bought a Ugo easel, also looking like a laptop. It's insane why do we have to purchase these things oversea. There is not so much choice in our continent. Shipping and taxes to France cost me about the price of the easel, they are outrageous! Well of that's what it takes, let do it then :) 
    MichaelD
  • @adridri, I agree there isnt as much choice on offer compared with US.

    I think my shipping, though still quite high was less than a 4th of the cost of the box.

    How are yo likening the Ugo (if you have received it yet) ?
  • edited December 2022
    @MichaelD the import taxes showed up upon delivery, not at payment. It's the delivery company that request them at the delivery date. That will certainly rise your shipping fee also, get ready.

    The Ugo is fine. Very light and quite stable to use. It's more a portable option than a pochade box but has less storage and options. That's fine by me.
    MichaelD
  • @adridri : I did not try glazing yet, I rarely use watercolors. But I will keep trying with white gouache.
    adridri
  • I use to paint outside.  Between the over friendly cows around here, the fire ants, turkey gnats, mosquitos, and assorted other vermin I resorted to sitting in the back of the pickup in a lawn chair with insect repellant.  Didn't have to tote stuff.  If I couldn't get to the spot in the truck, I had to pass it by.  Now I'm almost to old to frequently be outside.  It was fun though. It's really good experience and I hope you get to paint outside a lot.
    Abstractionadridri
  • edited December 2022
    @MichaelD
    looking forward to see your pictures of your set up and paintings. 
    At the moment i can't get out since it's minus, i suppose it's the same over there? 
    By the way that's a really nice easel you bought, looks like it has everything you need. I'll steal some of the design ideas and incorporate it to my DiY easel(if i can :) )
    @adridri
    I loved it! See i have problems when i paint inside, like not been able to see my colours on the palette because of inadequate light. Not been able to see colours in shadows, because of the photography limitations. Overall it's such a better experience. 
    I just don't think I'll be able to finish a painting outside. I think next time I'll do a pencil sketch and then I'll try to capture the light and colours. With these two, if done accurately i might be able to finish something back in my garage. 

    edit for a question.
    How can i carry wet panels around? 
    MichaelD
  • edited December 2022
    @Marinos_88, if painting outside is difficult, you can just take color notes with oil paint on a scrap of canvas or cardboard. I do this. I'm too old to be standing out in the winter weather for hours on end (Tasmania is like Europe in winter) so, instead of doing an entire painting en plein air, I just record the colors I see. I also take photos. When I get back home to my computer, I put the photos into my image editor and adjust the colors to calibrate them with my color notes. It takes very little time to make color notes outdoors. Doing so means you get accurate color and the convenience of creating a landscape painting in the controlled environment of the studio. And photos are great for capturing form in minute detail. The trick is knowing what to leave out.  :)
    Abstraction
  • @Marinos_88,
    Yes its been generally -6 or -8 of a morning here in Bonnie Scotland and colder the further up north you go.

    Yes when I get the box I probably wont venture out to paint until the weather improves. Im sure you can get some great ideas form Ben`s pochade boxes. He has been making them a good few years and they are always evolving.
    I like that I have space to store a couple of finished panels in the lid.
    Abstraction
  • @Marinos_88
    I have seen some options in stores that transform you in  ninja turtle...
    Here are some ideas https://youtu.be/B60AvdM3vek
    Abstraction
  • @tassieguy that's a good idea, maybe start with taking a picture then colour notes and last cracking on with the painting. at least if it's a fail i can further it in the studio as you suggested!
    @MichaelD it's so bad here at the moment(Belfast), tried to go for a walk the other day and the footways were covered in ice. I had to turn back because i wasn't for falling down twice this week(already feel down once when i was out cycling  :p)
    @adridri that's really useful, plenty of ideas to borrow for diy panel carriers, thx!
    tassieguyAbstraction
  • edited December 2022
    Thinking about what pleinair setup to bring for christmas vacations in Spain. I've been staring at them and can't make up my mind. It might be that it will just be an indoor setup if too cold.... 
    Pencil, black ink and waterbrush, watercolor, digital... Too many options.

    Abstraction
  • Adrian I'm going on holidays too soon(yayyyy), I'll post a picture when i get a chance of what I'll bring with me. Definitely get the pencil ink and watercolor. 
    I can't do digital because I'm not used to it, but it must be handy
    adridri
  • Thanks Denis, the pochade box is awesome.
    dencal
  • What's a good sized canvas for plein air? More specifically, at what size does it become too big? I was looking at 48.5x30cm (19"x12") but notice most seem to be smaller. Am I being too ambitious?
  • edited January 2
    @Abstraction keep in mind that you have about 2h in front of you before light changes dramatically, way less than that if painting in the golden hours. You can take longer if needed, but might be good to come back the next day or finish up in the studio from photo. So canvas size is ultimately linked to time limit and also transportability, as wet canvas are really a pain to carry unless you have your car close by. If working with a large size, such as what you are going for, using bigger brushes at first help a lot with the time limit. Plein air painters that use such large size usually finish up the work later in the studio or have a fast process involving large brushes.
    A good tip is to paint first things that don't last under changing lights, such as cast shadows. 
    As far as my experience goes with pleinair, I would not start with too large canvas size. The aim is to get familiar with the challenge of pleinair, which is really overwhelming compared to studio conditions, and learn too be quick and aim at a less polished finish compared to the studio style. There are enough challenges to not add the constraint of having a too big canvas to fill, which will make you run out of time in your little time window.
    I think it would be good to go for A4 size or smaller first (I use 15x21cm) just to see how you can adapt your studio painting skills to pleinair situation, as they will need to adapt. Just that is a good enough challenge in my opinion, as well as learning to bring the painting to a finish in a couple of hours or so. Then increase the canvas size at a latter stage once confortable with the new elements. 
    But that's not a definite rule, some don't like small sizes...you can try big and see how far you can take the study.

    Abstractionheartofengland
  • Very helpful advice, thanks.
  • edited January 6
    First plein air. Flinders Pier, Victoria, oil on board 35x21.6cm. Badly planned, poorly executed, not completed. It was going to be cloudy all day so didn't get organised but I spotted a break in the weather and grabbed things rushed out in hope, 30 minute drive. So my plans to read everyone's good advice on here went out the window. Forgot hat, weather kindly cleared, but Australian sun unkindly charged me for the privilege with a good dose of sunburn.
    Experience was liberating (big brushes, reckless use of paint, big statements, make quick instinctive decisions about colours) and difficult (feels out-of-control, decide everything on the spot, I miss having a defined and analysed photo, my phone helpful but tiny. Vista is so much bigger and has no boundaries compared to our already framed designs - hang on - where's the edge of my painting? Sun intense and no shelter, ran out of time...)
    Indian red and liquin for a wipe back sketch. This approach works for me because I want control of the entire canvas quickly.
    Liked my instinctive choice of Prussian Blue and Cobalt Turquoise. Found Mars Black mixed from dark down through the greys useful for quickly neutralising colours and nice drab darks in any mix. Realised including the foreground messed up my plans - too much going on for simple value statement - but too late to change. Ended up trying to build or mimic the complexity in a hurry.
    Oh, no!! 1pm? I have to meet my granddaughter for her 16th birthday coffee and bookshop date. Have to abandon it as is. That foreground is a mess. Nice shadows appearing. Maybe didn't quite nail the balance of land and sea.
    The result feels like incomplete and out-of-control rubbish. Looks ok from 10 metres away. I don't really value this. I may adjust the composition slightly for a larger painting though. I really wanted to move a little to left but thought falling over the cliff would slow me down. Long walk back up. Reminds me of funny story about my friend falling down a cliff about 15 minutes away from this spot when we were in Grade 2.
    heartofengland
  • Not all is lost and lots is gained from your experience by the sound of it.

    Yep, composition not the best, but not the worst either.   I think less foreground and more sky would have helped.   The far headland all looks a little squashed to me.
    Also, looking down as well as looking out is probably complicating matters for you at this stage.  (What do I know?)

    Now you know what to throw in the car next time you can get out and try again with a bit more confidence.
    Hope the birthday coffee went well.
    Abstractionheartofengland
  • edited January 6
    You captured the color of the sea - it looks perfect, @Abstraction.  And the casuarina is starting to come together. It's a pity you had to abandon it before pushing it a bit further.  But kids' birthdays are important.  :)

     Did you take some photos? Maybe you could work it up further in the studio. 
    Abstraction
  • @tassieguy yes I have the pics. I'll play with it as a study towards a bigger painting with more time to rethink composition.
    tassieguy
  • Prussian and Cobalt teal (Turquoise) are exactly the right colors and what I would have used for that sea.  :)
    Abstraction
  • tassieguy said:
    Prussian and Cobalt teal (Turquoise) are exactly the right colors and what I would have used for that sea.  :)
    Rubbish. I've been to the seaside all around Britain. The sea is dark grey and the sky is light grey. Blue... save it for the flowers.

    @abstraction Glad you broke out into something new.  Sounds like a rollercoaster ride. Results are promising.

    I like @toujours suggestion of more sky and less grass. 
    adridri
  • tassieguy said:
    Prussian and Cobalt teal (Turquoise) are exactly the right colors and what I would have used for that sea.  :)
    Rubbish. I've been to the seaside all around Britain. The sea is dark grey and the sky is light grey. Blue... save it for the flowers.


    Lol. But, during your last summer, when it was over 40 degrees C in Britain, I saw pictures on the news of lovely blue seas and people enjoying the beach. With global warming this will be your new normal in summer. Bu you'll still have a lot of lovely greys in winter. Why not paint us a moody British seascape with all those lovely greys.  :)
    heartofengland
  • @Abstraction looks like a good experience, at least the canvas was not thrown in the sand facing down by the wind  :) I think the blockin works well, it needs some fine tuning but can be finished home. I agree with your feelings, you bring back with it a strong connection with environment and places you paint plein air. 
    Don't feel obligated to stick to the composition strictly as you see it. If moving a little bit to one side would have been beneficial for the composition but impossible for some reason, don't hesitate to tweak the composition to your need, which isn't cheating as you could very well be painting the scene from a different perspective if you had moved.
    Will you continue the painting at home or on the spot ?
    Abstraction
  • @Abstraction I'm glad you got out to enjoy painting and i hope this thread gets more members out and about 

    Experience was liberating (big brushes, reckless use of paint, big statements, make quick instinctive decisions about colours) and difficult (feels out-of-control, decide everything on the spot, I miss having a defined and analysed photo, my phone helpful but tiny. Vista is so much bigger and has no boundaries compared to our already framed designs - hang on - where's the edge of my painting? Sun intense and no shelter, ran out of time...)

    Sounds like you're describing a disaster but i can tell you also had a lot of fun. 
    Like you, i was overwhelmed by everything. 
    It was your first time after all and I'm sure you'll progress if you keep doing it. 
    It looks like you got the colours spot on. 
    I find composition the hardest.
    I've watched Ian Robert's video lately and he mentioned two things. 
    Viewfinder
    and
    a sketchbook.
    I'll try that next time. 
    I'll spend time working out a composition first.
    then a rough sketch to see if it works.
    And then I'm not really sure how i should proceed  :p
    here's Ian's video:
    https://youtu.be/wrkYR8p1P8w

    Marino


    Abstraction
  • edited January 6
    adridri said:
    Don't feel obligated to stick to the composition strictly as you see it. If moving a little bit to one side would have been beneficial for the composition but impossible for some reason, don't hesitate to tweak the composition to your need, which isn't cheating as you could very well be painting the scene from a different perspective if you had moved.
    Will you continue the painting at home or on the spot ?
    I'm a learner on composition and need time. I rarely get it right in photos and usually have to crop or change later. So arriving on scene and making decisions under time pressure is likely to trip me up like this. It's not far from a good design though with tweaking. Painting the sea wet on wet in long thick lines felt like the Van Gogh copy I made. One thing I liked is the curve of waves coming in to meet the shape of the coast - and so I can tweak the coastline and tree shadows just starting to fall as I was leaving to create a swirling interplay of curvacious lines that recedes like an echo dgoing out to sea and resolves in the straight lines of the horizon. I would probably continue this at home because it's a longish drive, it's summer and I don't have any shelter from the sun. If it works I'll use it as a sketch for a bigger work.
    @Marinos_88 Thanks I'll have a look at that. I actually thought i needed something like a viewfinder. Or a tablet.
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