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CONTENTS

contents ............................................................................................ What is plein air painting? ................................................................. What exactly does painting outdoors entail? ..................................... Getting started:.................................................................................. What are the benefits of plein air painting? ....................................... Basic Equipment ............................................................................... These are items that are also important: ........................................... Safety: ............................................................................................... PAINTING ......................................................................................... Tips about painting: ........................................................................... Preparation........................................................................................ The Process: ..................................................................................... Simplicity ........................................................................................... More Helpful Tips: ............................................................................. Tips For Your Approach to Plein Air Painting: ................................... Setting Up: ........................................................................................ On Painting: ...................................................................................... Now let us have a look at a process demonstration: ......................... ASSESSMENT OF THE SCENE: .................................................. DEMONSTRATION: THE BLUE DOOR ...........................................

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 The Reference ............................................................................... STEP 1: The Sketch....................................................................... STEP 2: COMPOSE THE PAINTING ............................................ STEP 3: Darkest Darks and Shadow Family.................................. STEP 4 BLOCK IN THE LIGHTEST SHAPES ............................... STEP 5: BLOCK IN THE MID-VALUE SHAPES ............................ STEP 6 REFINE SHAPES & COLOR ............................................ STEP 7 RE-ASSES THE DARKS .................................................. STEP 8 FINISH .............................................................................. CONCLUSION .................................................................................. MORE RESOURCES:.......................................................................

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An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 WHAT IS PLEIN AIR PAINTING?

Plein air painting means painting outdoors - in the open air to be precise. Outdoor painting developed from the impressionist movement from the mid-19th century. Innovations like the paint tube in the 1840’s made it possible to take paint outside the studio. Added to this innovation was the impressionist movement that exploited these innovations. Portable easels and palettes made outdoor painting possible without too much trouble too. The fame of pioneers like John Constable proved that real life scenes had appeal to the new class of art admirer. It was not long before outdoor painting became fashionable. Although Constable was not an impressionist he did paint the famous Hay Wain. This painting depicted a romantic view of an everyday farm community at work. A romantic notion that admired by the new urban class.

Figure 1: The Haywain by John Constable

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 The impressionists aimed to paint real life scenes and the natural light effects supplied by mother nature. This concern with natural light became a passion in itself. Famous artists like Monet dedicated their careers to this pursuit. Art became more democratised and a popular activity for the merchant and professional classes. Social painting outdoors was not uncommon. Fast forward to the present and we can see plein air painting taking off in ever greater popularity. The reasons for this are many and include relaxation from the pressures of work. There is also a pleasant break from our digital world back to the analog world of paints and brushes. Organised paint outs are popular in larger centres adding to the social aspect of art. A growing industry in painter's equipment has resulted in all manner of kit to make outdoor painting easier. Add to this the exposure to the great outdoors and we have a perfect leisure industry for those with time on their hands. Professionals and serious part-timers see the benefits from painting in the landscape itself. The immediacy and experience provides a holistic painting experience often lost in the studio.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES PAINTING OUTDOORS ENTAIL?

This is a matter of debate. Some suggest a certain percentage of the painting must have completed outdoors to qualify as plein air. What that percentage is can vary between 50 to 70 percent. Others want the entire painting done outdoors. We can find guidance from the impressionist themselves. They did not impose limits, but even then there does seem to be some controversy. Monet did argue that his outdoors paintings were not completed in the studio. It seems clear that many were completed indoors.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 The preferable approach is:   

that the subject must be outdoors. Research and prepare the painting onsite. The painting must have progressed at least halfway to completion outdoors.

How difficult is it to meet these criteria? Weather permitting there should be no real trouble for the average artist to complete a painting outdoors. The painting size of 20cm x 25cm is small enough to make completion possible. A certain touch-up or two in the studio might be necessary, but that's about it. As with all things a bit of preparation makes this experience a pleasurable one. GETTING STARTED:

What are your objectives? Having an idea about what you want to achieve goes a long way to helping you on the correct path. For example if you want to produce several finished works to sell then you need to have your preparation in good shape. If you are looking for a few quick preparatory studies that may go on to become studio works then you will need only a basic kit. All these approaches are valid as they fall within the concept of painting from a real and authentic subject. This guide is for someone looking to paint outdoors for pleasure. You would also like to complete at least one painting with a few sketches and studies for later work in the studio. Learn more about the benefits of plein air painting on my plein air page. http://bit.ly/pleinairpage

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PLEIN AIR PAINTING?

Is it worth the trouble? Besides the pleasure elements suggested above there are significant benefits for the artist. Notes from the field become part of an ongoing experience where each painting contributes in some way to the next. (Gavin Brooks)

 Colors outdoors are different when photographed. Personal observation trains the artist's eye to take note of accurate colors.  Picking out composition when facing the vast panorama is daunting at first. The artist quickly learns techniques to isolate strong compositions.  Selection of elements necessary for composition disregarding others will develop the artist's eye.

and

 The ability to observe shadow areas filled with life rather than underexposed darks in photos is an added benefit.  You will learn how to simplify a scene.  Identify shapes and values better.  Learn to mix colors from a limited palette of colors.  You will learn all these skills under the pressure of time and the changing weather that this implies.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 BASIC EQUIPMENT

Essentials include:  Paint: a smaller palette makes outdoors work more intuitive than fiddling with many tube colors. Try titanium white, cad red light, cad yellow light and ultramarine blue. Add to this alizarin and pthalo green. If you prefer the luxury of more colors then burnt sienna may make your life easier. There is no need for more than this.  Brushes: a selection of size 6-8 of flats and filberts will do the trick. Keep your painting surface to approximately 20cm x 25cm. Bigger surfaces? Then a size 10 or 12 will be handy for laying in larger shapes. Bristle or finer hair is all good. Add a rigger for a few details like branches, telephone wires and such. It is also useful to draw your initial shapes if you are so inclined.  Add a palette knife that is flexible enough to paint with too. Mediums:  To save space I am happy to have basic odorless white spirits. Get best quality - it does make all the difference. You may wish to add a little premixed medium like linseed oil mixed with spirits to aid with initial lay in of colors with thin layers. A ratio of fifty/fifty will be suitable. Also a medium to speed drying such a Liquin may be helpful. You can get by with just the white spirits. Containers:  These make life outdoors so much easier. A few plastic containers that have reliable screw on lids will help to hold the white spirits. A second container for any other medium will do. A plastic bag for trash is necessary. A plastic brush container will keep your brushes out of harm during transportation. No bent bristles please!

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35  A container to carry you art supplies is essential. A well designed tool box is cheaper than a fancy wooden paint box and may have more options too. Make sure the container is big enough to take you equipment. If you want your bottle of artist spirits to stand upright then make sure the box is tall enough.  Backpack: I prefer to stow all this kit into a backpack. If you prefer get one with wheels.

Figure 2 Backpack can carry most items

Easels  There are many options out there and it depends on your style of painting and how long you spend plein air painting. If you intend to only paint outdoors for short periods then spending big on a French easel may not be necessary. In this case a lightweight aluminum field easel may be fine for you. I have one of these and it is great for when I have limited space for materials. It folds down to a small size and is cheap. I also have a French easel which sometimes doubles as a studio easel when I need this. The french easel can accommodate a large palette and this is handy when I need more space for mixing. On the downside it is heavy and I would not want to hike to a distant spot with this easel.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

Figure 3 French Easel

 Another nifty option for quick work is a pochade box. This is a box that opens up to reveal a place for your panel and a small space below for a palette. It is small enough to perch on your lap or can fitted onto a tripod with a special adapter. I made a pochade box out of a small wooden paint box by taking out the partitions and fitting a cabinet hinge on the side. A couple of brackets hold the panel in place inside the lid while the bottom of the box acts as a palette. I can close the box leaving my paints still in the box and they will be fine until I get back to the studio and scrape them out. I enjoy the pocahde box for its convenience.

Figure 4 : Pochade Box on Tripod

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

 Wet Panel Carrier

Figure 5 Wet Panel Carrier

 The unsung hero of plein air painting. What could be worse than painting a few panels then trying to get them home without smudging or destroying the wet paint?. The panel carrier comes in various sizes. You can slot the panels in and close the box thereby making safe transport possible.  There are many types of wooden carriers, but they can be expensive. Other options include plastic and even cardboard ones that provide temporary solutions. Of course if you are handy with woodwork you can make a basic carrier. I have made a few myself that work well for temporary purposes. If you are traveling overseas for instance it would pay to get a sturdy box. Paper Towel and Rags  Another humble hero to the oil painter. Paper towels (or loo rolls if you run out) are essential to clean off your brush in a hurry and soak up spirits to dry your brush after cleaning. A rag will help to wipe a spill or wipe your painting panel.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 THESE ARE ITEMS THAT ARE ALSO IMPORTANT:

 Camera, viewfinder, value scale. They do help with composing a scene and the value scale can help with light and dark color relationships.  Sketch book. Making value studies and other preparatory drawings is a good idea and can make all the difference. If time makes this impractical then get on with painting, but you take your chances.  Comfort items: Hats, umbrellas, sunscreen, raincoats, spare jersey, food, water, folding chair, cell phone. SAFETY:

Basic safety issues need to consider. Where you paint may be unsafe due to wildlife (whether on four or two legs). Environmental issues, extreme weather and any other issues that may also present themselves. Take precautions. Tell friends where you are going to paint and make sure you have a backup plan. Take a painting buddy along.

PAINTING

The above lists seem like a big task, but most of it is getting the items that you already have organised into a system. After a few times out you will have this system working. For example I have a panel carrier and pochade box in my vehicle so it is possible to stop and paint. At least grabbing the missing items and dashing off to a nearby paint spot need not take more than a half hour.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 TIPS ABOUT PAINTING:

Use small painting panels: ideal for me is the standard 20cm x 25cm MDF or masonite panel. It is small enough to allow me to complete the painting in about 20 to 30 minutes. If the painting goes well the panel looks great framed in an oversized moulding. A grand statement piece! Bigger panels can work too, but you may spend too long on it and miss other opportunities with other scenes. PREPARATION

Pre-prime and tone the panels. This is a big help. I double prime the panels in gesso or oil based primer for artists (not regular hardware primer). Then tone the board with a wash of diluted oil paint. A warm tone like raw sienna, burnt sienna or even red make good landscape panels. Sometimes a cooler neutral is good such as ultramarine. Have a few options. My panel carrier can hold 12 panels so I have a few options on hand.

As mentioned above it helps to have an idea about what it is you want to achieve. Do you want rolling hills? farmlands? sheep or cattle? people on the beach? When you find a good place to set up you will need to work quickly. I set up my easel and squeeze out my basic paints onto the palette. Line up my brushes and make other arrangements getting my kit ready. I then get out the sketch book and make a couple quick value studies to establish the darks and lights and maybe the midtone areas.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 Check composition in a viewfinder and take a few quick photographs. I will then draw in the main shapes and plot important points on the panel. These points will correspond with the points established in my composition. For instance where a road starts and ends. Where the focal point is and where the horizon line is. Then I get stuck in with painting straight away. No dawdling to second guess myself. Remember: ESTABLISH THE HORIZON LINE FIRST

Keep direct light off your palette and panel. It may be necessary to paint under an umbrella or shade of a tree for example. If not possible then at least make sure your palette and panel are out of the direct light so that you do not overcompensate with dark values. Keep colors bright and they will look good indoors.

Shade trees are heroes to a lowly, overheated plein-air painter. (Brenda Behr)

THE PROCESS:

I like to start with a big brush and start painting in the dark shapes usually with a diluted mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna. It is these darks and their relationship to the lights that are critical to the impact of the painting. Remember impact comes from just this relationships between colors and values. This applies to the old

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 masterworks and to modern landscapes too. Once your darks are in then change brushes and move to the lights. Lights in landscapes are the sky and areas receiving direct or indirect light. The sky is usually the lightest. For the sky you will need to bring in some white but keep it broken with a touch of yellow ochre. The landscape may be more a mid-tone so you could get away with no white in the color mix for your mid-tone areas just yet.

Figure 6 Painting from the balcony is still plein air

What is the problem with adding white paint at this stage? White does not keep warm colors warm and it makes shadows opaque. Your colors will remain transparent for more richness. You will achieve better results and richer paintings when using less white paint. So I keep early layers as free as possible from white paint. Go ahead and mix colors, but bring the white in only where necessary. This may sound strange to beginners who are often told to use tons of white paint. The result is often a painting of chalky color that struggles not to look pastel.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 With darks and lights in you can block in the mid-tones. These will usually be foreground and middle ground areas that range from cools in the distance to warms in the foreground. They are the areas between brights and darks.

SIMPLICITY

This is key and why a large brush and an emphasis on shapes is so important. Rather go for large shapes and go for simple color relationships and value contrast to get more impact.

Figure 7 Large shapes have more impact

It would be better to use thick generous paint applications than small brush details. It is always a pleasure to see texture from thick paint and brush strokes. This is one of oil paint’s advantages so use it where you can.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 Yes contrast between bold and gentle paint application is necessary too. For instance shadows are deep and mysterious while bright foregrounds can have thick juicy paint. Remember to try and suggest with shapes and paint application too. For instance lines on a road suggested by the paint strokes. Wavy thick paint strokes can suggest the motion of water - you get the idea. Develop your painting by adding more color and keeping a close eye on your scene. Do not get caught up in details. Work quickly and intuitively. Pay attention to light and dark shapes and adjust where necessary. Look at your edges and soften where needed. Focal points can have harder edges, but try to avoid this elsewhere. Stand back to look at the panel often and compare then adjust where needed. Forget perfection. Go for mood and eye catching elements that say more than perfectly rendered details. Above all else have fun. Concentrate but keep the process light hearted. Loosen up - breathe - sing if you want to. This is creativity and freedom. When the painting is done put it in the panel carrier and start another with a different scene. When back at the studio put the panels up somewhere and assess them. Have a seat and look at them across the room.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

Figure 8 Another Plein Air Adventure

Assess the colors, composition, mood and the painting as a whole. How do they make you feel? Do you relive the moment? Do they surprise you now that you see them in the safety of the studio? I am sure that there is a certain vibe that you pick up from the plein air painting that is unique.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 I am often amazed by the impact such a small painting makes despite the short time spent painting it. Maybe I do a larger version or a similar version. Often the larger version fails to have the same vibe. Art is funny like that. Are your first few attempts failures? You may think so at first, but they are necessary for development – crawl, walk then run – such is life and art! To look, to see, to understand, to capture – however imperfectly – is to be part of the land in a way like no other. (Jan Blencowe)

Figure 9 Karoo Morning (oil) 10 x 12

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 MORE HELPFUL TIPS:

 The sky reflects the landscape so it is not pure blue. Bring the warmth of the landscape into the sky from horizon level and darken the sky at the top of the panel to suggest depth. A touch of yellow ochre or red to break the pure white and blue work well in the sky.  Keep the sky interesting with movement suggested in brushstrokes and color. Flat sky can make the landscape too static.  Sky holes in trees are darker than the sky in open space so tone the sky holes down a notch in value.  Mix your greens. Look at the color of the green rather than assuming it is one shade when it is completely different.  Consider the shape of trees and bushes. They are distinctive so try and render the shape with accuracy. Forget about the leaves. We are after shapes. Also the nature of the tree. A eucalyptus tree is soft and wavy compared to a solid oak tree.  What part does indirect light play on the underside of the tree and branches? Lighten and warm colors to make allowance for this.  Aerial perspective - lighten and cool the colors in the distance. You will not be able to see reds and browns in the far distance so grays and cooler earthy colors will take over. Observe and mix accordingly.  Keep light consistent. A warm light will be consistent throughout for instance in the morning or afternoon so keep this in mind for harmony. Accurate color notes are a benefit of close observation. Working outdoors or from life puts you in direct contact with the life force, not just the light and the landscape, but also the vitality of the world around you. (George Carlson)

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

TIPS FOR YOUR APPROACH TO PLEIN AIR PAINTING:

 Paint what you love. The results will speak louder if there is an emotional connection between you and the subject.  Start with a small sketch. The two value notan is ideal to test your composition.  Big shapes and distinct light and dark value changes make stronger paintings. Seek them out.  Crop the scene with a viewfinder. Change viewpoints if this helps you make a stronger composition.  You can leave objects out. Move or take out trees, buildings and roads for instance to make your composition stronger. Too many objects to move? Your subject may be the problem. Find another.  Keep an open mind. Add a sense of humour. Paint for the love of it.  Have a concept in mind. What attracted you to the scene? Keep this idea and stick with it throughout the painting.

SETTING UP:

 Place your easel in a comfortable and stable position. If you have to stand awkwardly you will become tired quicker.  Use the viewfinder. Use a color isolator if in doubt about colors.  Paint the horizon line first.  Put in dark shapes next and shadow shapes. Shadow change as the light moves so get them in early. Then the lights. Stick to the light dark relationships.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35  Use a limited palette of primaries and white to learn how to mix paint. Add to this palette over time. Never use tube greens outdoors.  Composition should be simple and strong. That means have a strong focal point. Lead the eye to this focal point. Keep the eye in the painting. All else is trimmings. ON PAINTING:

 Step back from the easel to look at your painting as a whole.  Squint at the scene to see the big shapes and light dark relationships. Paint those.  Keep the light passages thick and the darks / shadows thin. Use transparent paint in the shadows and thicker opaque paint in the sunlit areas.  Take deep breaths to remove tension. Be bold and happy. This is better than tense and tight. It will show in your painting.  Paint for yourself first. You are the artist. Be your own boss.  Do not be nervous of other people. Usually they ignore you. Those that stop to talk can become your biggest fans. Be patient and share the joy.  Getting lost with little brush strokes? Solve problems by using a larger brush and applying thicker paint. This gives strength and loses little details.  Push the colors if you want to, but keep light and dark relationships intact. The shadow and light relationships make the painting strong.  You can always scrape back, finish in the studio or start another canvas. Outdoor painting is about learning. Forget about trying to be perfect.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 NOW LET US HAVE A LOOK AT A PROCESS DEMONSTRATION: ASSESSMENT OF THE SCENE: A potential landscape must be assessed with a critical eye before a paint tube is opened. In truth the success of the painting depends considerably on your assessment of a scene at the very beginning. It is at this point that all your experience with composition comes into play. As your experience grows this will become an intuitive process. Besides a naturally attractive scene I always look for elements that will catch the eye, draw the eye into the scene and hold the viewer's interest. Perhaps the most critical element is that of Light and Dark. I will refer to this as L&D. This element is broken down into values of light and dark, but at this early stage we are just looking for the very basic L&D elements. Think black and white only! Open your sketch book and draw a small landscape shaped block about four by two centimetres. This is your L&D canvas. Take a dark pencil or even better a black felt tip pen and block in the most prominent dark elements in the scene. Leave out everything in between black and white. You will notice that there is now two values – black and white.

PRO TIP: Have you ever started a painting nicely with all the light and darks in place only to lose direction in the middle somewhere? This is almost always due to losing the light/dark value pattern. Re-establish this L&D pattern then focus on the colours only keeping within the pattern. DEMONSTRATION: THE BLUE DOOR

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 THE REFERENCE

Figure 10 The Blue Door. A scene from Nieu Bethesda in the Eastern Cape

I have chosen this scene because of the simple shapes and shadow to light relationships. It is the interplay between shadow and light that makes a painting stand out. The composition is strong too. The driveway leads the eye to the focal point. There is a balance between horizontal shapes and vertical shapes. There may also be a touch of mystery about that blue door? Now I simply need to paint it and hopefully make a good job of it!

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 STEP 1: THE SKETCH

A small notan* sketch is always worthwhile. This sketch makes me look for the dominant shadow and light shapes. This is part of the process to simplify a scene into basic shapes.

Figure 11Notan Sketch

STEP 2: COMPOSE THE PAINTING

I am using a Masonite or MDF panel to paint on. These panels are safer to use outdoors and are better for small sizes. First prime the panel with two coats of gesso. I always prefer to tome the panel in a neutral color or warm shades of cadmium red light, raw sienna or burnt sienna to get rid of the cool white primer. It is also difficult to assess the lightest light color when the primer is in fact the lightest!

*for more on notan please see my course Learn to Paint With Impact

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

Here I have used cad red light and raw sienna to one the board. Use acrylics for this as it dries quicker unless you want some oil toner to mix with your first layers. I have used a smaller brush to quickly draw in the main composition using a turpsy mix of ultramarine and alizarin crimson.

Figure 12 Basic composition drawn in on toned panel

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 STEP 3: DARKEST DARKS AND SHADOW FAMILY

Now using the same turpsy mix of ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson with a larger brush (size 8 – 10) I am blocking in the large dark shapes. The term shadow family also refers to all darks that are not getting the full sunlight. These shapes will be cooler and darker. They will set-off nicely against the lights. Also get the shadows down early as the sunlight moves and then your shadows may disappear changing your scene completely.

Figure 13 Step 3 the dark shapes are blocked in

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 STEP 4 BLOCK IN THE LIGHTEST SHAPES

Now onto the lights. You may want to use a different brush for the light family colors. This is a matter of choice. If you use the same brush as for the darks make sure that you clean it off well with tissue paper and rinse off with white spirits. Titanium white broken with a touch of yellow ochre will do the job nicely.

Figure 14 Block in the lightest lights

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 STEP 5: BLOCK IN THE MID-VALUE SHAPES

Start to bring in shadows and place them with bold strokes. They can be refined later. Here I have started to put in shadows then the first colour notes using midtones. I have an idea where the darks, lights and the colour values that will be used. From this point on it becomes an intuitive process of evaluation, correction and application of more refined colour notes.

Figure 15 Start to block in the mid-tone shapes

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

Figure 16 Basic Mid-tone colors all in

ENERGY AND GENEROSITY: I would rather have a painting that shows energy and generous paint application over a technically correct work that lacks these elements. Once your basics are in place you must aim to paint with speed, care and passion. All this sounds like a lot of mental work (it is) but if you follow these guidelines you will not have time to fiddle with details and stew over little bits here and there. This is where the large brush, limited palette and generous amounts of paint all contribute to a painting that delights the eyes with texture and colour.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 STEP 6 REFINE SHAPES & COLOR

Figure 17 Refine Shapes

This middle stage can lull any painter into a false sense of security. What happens is that we forget our plan or concept. We are merrily painting shapes and it is easy to fall into a meditative state. It is very relaxing until you suddenly realise that this painting is losing direction. Help! Remember when this happens fall back on keeping the light and dark family of shapes in place. You are looking firstly for strong light and for this to happen there must be shadow and cool color shapes. If there is a feeling of light and air in your landscape then you are almost home and dry. Do not overwork it. Look at finishing the painting.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

Figure 18 Coming Along but I am missing strong darks

Stand back and have a look at the painting. What works for? What needs some adjustment. Some oomph! Another tip is to carry a small mirror with you. Hold the mirror to the side of your head and glance at it to see your painting’s reflection. This helps to show the painting more objectively. You get a different view and may spot some problem areas.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

STEP 7 RE-ASSES THE DARKS

I feel that the darks are losing some power. So it is time to reestablish those darks. This is a common adjustment to make in the latter stage.

Figure 19 Get those darks back in then refine

Once the dark shapes are back to my liking I will refine them and bring in the finishing touches. This is when a few small brush lines can come in, a few highlights to add zing and finally your signature.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

STEP 8 FINISH

Figure 20 The finished painting

The final refinements have been added. This is a matter of personal choice. You can go too far doing this. I have added a bicycle for a sense of life. Someone may be visiting! But you decide how to end the painting. You are the artist and your vision is what matters. Overall I think the advice to keep your statement simple, bold and strong is good advice. I try to keep this mantra close to heart when I paint.

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35

Figure 21 The Blue Door in its frame

CONCLUSION

That basic process should keep your plein air work under control. There is plenty of room for personal expression within this framework. Remember that you can always finish the painting in the studio. However try to complete a few outdoors too. The alla prima approach can be immensely satisfying. Happy plein air painting!

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 MORE RESOURCES:

Want more on painting? Try my structured painting courses: LEARN TO PAINT WITH IMPACT This is an in depth learning course with over 5 hours of video and a 200 page module of notes and lessons to try. Learn everything you need to create paintings with power. Plus you can join the course with a nice discount of 80% off! http://bit.ly/learntopaintwithimpact HOW TO SOLVE PAINTING PROBLEMS A follow up to Learn to Paint with Impact. This course looks at selected problems that can cause frustration to artists. From aerial perspective to painting figures in the landscape. These and other real issues that you will encounter are explained and solved with demonstrations. Try this course with a handy discount of 80% Off! http://bit.ly/1NRBSF0 FREE: FROM ACRYLICS TO OIL PAINTING IN 5 EASY STEPS A great short course for trying another method to learn oil painting. How about completing a large oil painting in one day? I show you how you can do this. Plus there is tons of video and information about composition, preparing your painting and the step-by-step process to complete an oil painting. You can join this course for FREE when you sign up to my studio newsletter. Visit: http://bit.ly/1KrHgE1 to start your FREE Course As always I am posting new content on painting and my new works to my website and blog. Please drop in to view at http://www.malcolmdeweyfineart.com

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey


P a g e | 35 ABOUT THE ARTIST

Malcolm Dewey has been painting since school days (which is a long time :) He resides in South Africa and paints outdoors regularly. He paints professionally and his paintings have found themselves in collections all over the world. Malcolm’s second commitment is to teach painting. He has published several online courses, blogs regularly and gives away painting advice as often as he can.

“Painting has been one of my greatest blessings. I believe that creating art is a gift that more people need to get involved in. I want to inspire people to try creating art. Especially those who have suppressed their love for painting. Now is the time to start!”

Join Malcolm at www.malcolmdeweyfineart.com Facebook: Malcolm Dewey Fine Art Instagram: malcolmdeweyfineart Pinterest: mdfineart Start Your Free Painting Course now!

An Artist’s Guide to Plein Air Painting

Malcolm Dewey

Plein Air Painting Artist's Guide  

Outdoor painting guide for beginners. What is plein air painting and how to get started painting. For oil painting, acrylics and watercolor....

Plein Air Painting Artist's Guide  

Outdoor painting guide for beginners. What is plein air painting and how to get started painting. For oil painting, acrylics and watercolor....

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