It’s only May, and already I’m fantasizing about summer road trips and exotic jaunts. But then I remember that almost every time I go on vacation my glow wears off once the artists show up. Inevitably, I see a traveler who is painting landscapes or sketching, creating significant and personal mementos while I am left envious and grumpy because all I have to take home are cheesy postcards and tacky magnets. This can’t go on!
|Ville Franche, France
by Eric Wiegardt, 2009, watercolor painting, 22 x 30.
I sleuthed around to find an art medium that is a facile traveler, and almost immediately my pity party was over. Landscape painting in watercolor! The supplies are minimal, there’s nothing heavy or cumbersome to lug around, pieces dry quickly so you can paint and move on with your journey, and storage can be as simple as closing a sketchbook. Watercolors can also be used to enhance and complement graphite and pen-and-ink sketches, which opens up even more options. But for those who really love oils, if you carry a small pack and use a condensed palette, painting on the go is totally doable as well.
The approach to painting on the go is more a mindset than what you are painting with. Painting quickly is the goal, but that’s not about time management as much as working intuitively. Therefore it helps that loose yet controlled brushwork often shows watercolors and oils to their best advantage. Painting quickly also provides good practice in not getting bogged down in details of the landscape artwork you create and, instead, using broad swathes of color to build a sense of atmosphere.
Let me know how you paint when you are on the go—leave a comment and let me know. And for more tried and true tips to improve your landscape art skills when you are on the go, consider the Watercolor in the Wild Collection with resources from James Gurney on color and light, plein air painting, and more! Whether you are planning your next trip abroad or refining sketches you do on location in the studio, the technical demonstrations, artist tips, and painting tutorials in the collection will help you learn how to become a better artist.