advertisement

Free eBooks

Topics

Tag Cloud

Wimping Out of Plein Air Painting

26 Jul 2012

Whenever I end up in a conversation where other artists start talking about the kit they take with them when plein air painting--and it often starts with what plein air easel is the best--I tend to keep quiet. Very quiet.

A page from my sketchbook when I was painting outdoors.
A page from my sketchbook when I was painting outdoors.
I love to walk in the landscape and I love landscape painting, but I prefer not to do the two together. Rather, I like to go out and about with a small sketchbook, pencil and pocket watercolor set in my day bag, spending more of my time observing and taking notes (both visual and in words) than I do sketching. I let it all percolate in my mind and, back in my studio, work out what I'm going to translate into paint, what aspect of what I've seen I'll use.

I do know it's not a disreputable approach, but faced with painters who work on large paintings outdoors in all weathers, there's something about saying I've used watercolor in my sketchbook when it was drizzling that makes me feel like an artistic wimp.

I once met an artist who doesn't have a dedicated painting studio with walls and a roof, who does all her painting outdoors, in all seasons. Wind-blown sand, pieces of grass, a smudge of mud become part of the final piece. I overheard someone in the gallery describe her work as "blustery" and thought it superbly apt.

It's not really the blustery wind that stops me, nor the cold seeping into my fingers nor the insects that come out when it's hot. It's having to cart stuff with me, when all I want to do is walk unencumbered. Walking with an uncluttered body helps unclutter my mind, which means I take in more and that means I've more to use on a canvas back in my studio.

People who buy my paintings don't generally ask me if I painted them on location. Rather they tell me I've captured the sense of the sea or landscape; often the sense of the weather. It's a question other artists ask, and in those odd occasions when it's asked with a sense of one-upmanship, I tend to paraphrase this quote from Monet:

"Whether my cathedral views, my views of London and other canvases are painted from life or not is nobody's business and of no importance whatsoever."

What do you say about plein air painting? What appeals and what holds you back? Leave a comment and let me know.

--Marion

 


Related Posts
+ Add a comment

Comments

Rolando Diaz wrote
on 26 Jul 2012 3:50 PM

Marion, Hope all is well on your side of the world. This is actually the first time I am commenting on anything related to art. I was a person who grew up with low self esteem. I always took no for an answer in many areas of my life. When I went off to art school and moved away from my small town. I actually experienced the big city and other things around me that have given me experience in life.  I always had people ask me if I wanted to be like Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso or other artists. My answer was and has always been no. By saying yes I would be going by someone

else's limits. Every artist has their own style. You should not have to answer to anyone. Continue to paint in the way that it pleases you and makes you grow as an artist. Movie producers shoot all sorts of scenes, at the end they still go inside the studio and edit it and at the end we watch the movie as a whole.

Rolando Diaz wrote
on 26 Jul 2012 4:22 PM

Marion, Hope all is well on your side of the world. This is actually the first time I am commenting on anything related to art. I was a person who grew up with low self esteem. I always took no for an answer in many areas of my life. When I went off to art school and moved away from my small town. I actually experienced the big city and other things around me that have given me experience in life.  I always had people ask me if I wanted to be like Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso or other artists. My answer was and has always been no. By saying yes I would be going by someone

else's limits. Every artist has their own style. You should not have to answer to anyone. Continue to paint in the way that it pleases you and makes you grow as an artist. Movie producers shoot all sorts of scenes, at the end they still go inside the studio and edit it and at the end we watch the movie as a whole.

KatPaints wrote
on 26 Jul 2012 6:24 PM

Such a perfect comment Rolando.

I understand why drawing/painting outside with a sketchbook is more appealing that lugging around a bunch of equipment. I do plein air painting on the weekends complete with my Soltek and a lot of other stuff. I keep dropping items to reduce weight and simplifying what I bring. Finally, I realized most of the weight is my easel. I love my Soltek, but it's heavy.

I will be painting this October at Plein Air Moab and part of me just wants to hike and check out the nature and National Parks around me. I'm starting to dread the idea of shipping my supplies and easel. I don't really have a strong upper back and neck so hiking with my backpack is a concern. I will most likely paint close to a parking lot. Frankly, I'm starting to think that plein air painting was easier when I used a folding TV tray, chair, and canvas taped to a board.

I've been considering the option of bringing a sketch book, but then again do I really want to stop and draw or just relax and breathe in the sights?

PaigeBacon wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 8:21 AM

Plein air painting is a bit cumbersome for me. I prefer just to carry watercolor pencils, sketchpad, and my camera.

chris greene wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 8:24 AM

I know It's challenging and inconvenient, but there is nothing like experiencing what inspires me to paint. Even if It's only a watercolor thumb nail sketch that captures the weather conditions or mood of the scene. I'll also bring my digital camera to record the area. Back in my studio, It helps me to re-imagine the experience and what initially attracted me  because I was there.

  Chris

on 28 Jul 2012 9:12 AM

Marion, hello.  I founded the Virginia Plein Air Painters in 2010.  We currently have about 70 members.  I have to tell you that I fully understand your experience and preference.  I recently had a ball writing a piece on plein air painting for the James River Art League newsletter in Richmond, Virginia.  The article is on p. 4.  You will probably identify with my experience.  Just google James River Art League and find the newsletter for May (I think).  Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Marla Coleman.  marlacoleman7@aol.com

hparker42 wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 9:38 AM

Thank you Marla for the information to your newsletter (article on Plein Air) Wish I was living in Virginia I would join your league.

I live in AZ and have not painted outdoors, but plan on doing so when the desert is in bloom in March/April.

AlbertaB wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 10:13 AM

I like to paint outdoors when the weather is warm (not too warm) and sunny (not too sunny) and I have a comfy lawn chair and watercolors.  I can't imagine bringing oils -- I did it once, what a chore!  Photos and outdoor sketches may help but painting from a photo on my 32 inch tv, sitting on a chair in my studio with day light streaming in on all 4 sides!  Maybe a cup of coffee on a nearby stand.  Heaven.  And the results show -- its heaven.  :)  

Outdoor sketching -- done quickly is fun too!  

bemurphy wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 10:15 AM

Marion...so well  said. I am known for tightly rendered graphite work. As much as I love graphite, I sometimes need a change to stay fresh. For me, there is nothing better than grabbing the easel and stepping outside to put color to canvas. I love to absorb the sounds and smells of the environment, even if it's from my own back yard. I'm in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and it's pretty warm and muggy in the summer. but often I will celebrate the cooler temps in the spring and summer by moving my pencils, paper and drawing board outside on my porch to work on my drawings. So simple but so enjoyable!

persephone50 wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 10:28 AM

I think plein air painting is highly overrated, perhaps just a very popular trend right now.  I do my best work in the studio.

pgoerler wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 10:38 AM

I'll start by saying I'm not a professional and have never sold a painting.  My results of my plein air painting so far have resulted in very dark colors.  I think the light outside was too bright and I compensated on the canvas (in this case pastels on sanded paper) by using darker colors.  It's only when I put the painting on display inside for a critique after class that the plein air instructor and I realized that my colors were so dark.   I have a retreat coming up in August, and will be painting outside again.  I will intentionally use lighter colors if the light is bright outside to see if the adjustment makes any satisfactory changes in my art.  

djekberg wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 10:45 AM

I love plein aire!  That's where the real colors are, and I overwork less if I bring along enough canvases or paper.  

It's a fad right now, but we did it in the Black Hills of South Dakota before it became a fad.  It has also become a way to raise funds for various charities.  People are generous when it's for a good cause, and the artists benefit, too!

We go out early, stop for a picnic together, then paint until time to get back to reality.  I love this time with other artists!

I pull my French easel in an ArtComber cart/seat, and carry a bucket with a Handyman liner which has lots of room and pockets for whatever doesn't  fit in the easel.  There's also the umbrella, so we park close to where we want to paint, or drop off the stuff, then go park.  Hope this helps others enjoy painting outside.  

on 28 Jul 2012 10:47 AM

Marion,

Thank you for your blog today!  I haven't tried painting en plein aire -- yet.   I always have a small sketch book and pencils wherever I go, and have taken pastels on a "field trip".  The heat, bugs, and glaring sun have intimidated me, and dragging an easel and supplies to go find "the spot" is too planned.

However,  I have registered for a class in "Begging Landscape Painting in Oil" for this fall, and we will be painting in the field.   Wish me luck -- and good weather here in South Louisiana.

on 28 Jul 2012 11:13 AM

I take pastels to paint outside.  I have a favorite collection for my drawing spot.  All I need is a drawing board, clips, a few sheets of pastel paper, and the pastels, fits neatly into a messenger bag.  A large straw hat and a neutral-colored shirt help, too.  

on 28 Jul 2012 11:20 AM

I am gratified that there is another artist who feels the dragging out of all the equipment can be a real obstacle.   I paint with a group in Chicago and they are excellent artists,   I rely on public transportation to get to the sites they select.  The sites are great, but I don't always get to them.  The rule for exhibiting is that ONLY those works done on site can be in our shows.  Completed works adapted from sketches of the outdoors are not allowed.  Somehow, I feel I am missing something by not sitting and sketching.    And I think working from sketches and notes is a challenging way to create an original work.

I probably will continue to  paint plein air, but will relish the studio time.    

Thanks

Jeanmuldavis wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 11:20 AM

Where are the comments from the pro plein air painters?  Not many.  What does that say?  No one yet has mentioned the time involved.  I, for one, don't have it.  When I'm traveling in particular.  The swiftness of the changing light is another deterrent for me.  ..........can't keep up with it and that gets frustrating.  So  I bring my camera and take as many photos as I can, then back in my studio get down to business.  

I understand all the benefits of "plein airing" but, unfortunately, it's not for me.

Jean Davis

on 28 Jul 2012 12:16 PM

I paint plein aire and I call it drag along, lag along, lug, carry, set up, break up or break down if the painting is not going well  and collapse with exhaustion. I have traveled all over the United States and Europe and loved painting out in the open and in cities, but it gets to be too much after awhile. I also notice most (I didn't say all) plein artists do not sketch they just dig in and paint and it is irresistible not to start that painting. I finally discovered studio painting and find I can have a more vivid imagination from my photos and inflict my knowledge of plein air painting into the painting.

on 28 Jul 2012 1:24 PM

Your comments resonate.  My region merchandizes plein air painting.  The galleries even put banners across the very polished offerings of well-established and prolific California landscape painters who have great studios, claiming that the paintings are plein air.  Right.  Customers then become suspicious of anything that is not claimed to be plein air.  But what bothers me is the use by other artists as a put-down.  I have been preached at every which way for ADMITTING using photos as reference material, even though my paintings are obviously not about the photographs and my techniques have nothing in common with quick impressions.  I wouldn't dream of putting them down or preaching to them about choosing to paint plein air and disputing whatever insights THEY would not have had they not done so.  Respect differences.  Bear in mind that another person might have memory and "vision" different from your own.  Isn't that what art is about?

on 28 Jul 2012 1:25 PM

I can't believe no one has commented on this yet--but even if you are doing a plein air painting in your watercolor sketchbook--it's STILL a plein air painting!  If that's your medium of choice, who's to say there is anything wrong with that?  I understand that most of the early plein air painters did quick study sketches (often with oil paints) to capture the colors and feeling of a scene, then went back into the studio to produce the finished paintings.  How else could they capture the scene in such detail with the changing light after all...  

I live in a hotbed area for plein air painting (coastal Southern California) and I come across the gamut of plein air painters each week;  sketchers, watercolorists, oil and acrylic painters as well as those painting with pastels!  Some produce finished works in the field, but most at the very least finish up their works in the studio.  After all, a two dimensional photograph with it's limited value range can't give you all the information you can get from seeing the scene with your own eyes.  Please don't feel bad about what you are or are not willing to do outside, just enjoy your artistic endeavors however you want to do them.

As for the comments from the people who don't like to carry supplies, how about getting a rolling cart of some sort?  I've found the best types have large, wide wheels and can traverse the more "wild" landscapes fairly easily.  And, for the person who is having problems with her paint colors coming out too dark, how about using an umbrella to shade both the canvas and your palette as well as using a neutral 5 value paint color to tone your canvas before you start painting.  That way your colors will end up more "true" in the field and you won't get eyestrain from the sun's glare on that white canvas into your eyes...

Best wishes to everyone!

jbqdgq wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 2:09 PM

I really wish I could do plein air. I had a stroke 5 years ago and am not good at carrying or hiking. I can make sketches and notes and take photos. For me this has to do. I have watched plein air painters on Mackenac Island and at the Dallas Arboretum with envy, wishing I could too.

river pearl wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 2:19 PM

I love to paint outdoors. It is especially nice to paint with a friend. Unfortunately it has been too hot this summer, but look forward to cooler weather. I am an older senior so can't carry too much, but I just bought a folding chair in TJMAXX that has pockets on the side and a table top that flips over.  I've gotten used to people stopping to watch. It's all an experience!

Gloria

GrahamT wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 2:37 PM

My theory is that golfers play golf to get outside, fishermen fish to get outside, and I paint plein air to get outside. I love being outdoors early when the sun is coming up and in the evening when the light is golden. I try to capture this light with my camera and I have a pretty good one--Rebel XTI,  but the color is not the same.

I love seeing little animals scurry about and feel disappointed when I miss a sunrise or sunset. This morning I kayaked on a still lake and watched a humming bird, sketched some mushrooms growing on a stump right down on the water's edge and enjoyed being out.  I'm fortunate to have a Jeep and many times I paint out of the back of it. I prefer the Soltek for the ease of set up. It doesn't seem so heavy unless you go on a long trek. Most of the time I use one of those "little old lady" grocery carts. It has large wheels and is easy to pull over rocks and ruts. No judging. Painting in the studio or outside is all exciting.

Snomad wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 3:03 PM

THANK YOU!!!!! And perfect timing as just last evening I was coming to the conclusion that plein air is quite possibly not the method that works for me. I've lived in and traveled Alaska for over 32 years, soaking up feelings, experiences, colors, light and life, always with a camera in hand. It's a compulsive joy, and gives me a multitude of ideas and images from which to paint throughout the long, dark, storm-bound months on the northern Bering Sea coast. After attending the Plein Air Conference this spring, I let my husband by me a pochade box (a gorgeous Alla Prima Bitteroot), and am now troubled at the expense. I've found that my unfettered joy in just wandering the wilderness has been clouded by guilt that I should now be sitting and painting. And let me tell you - plein air painting is challenging! There are those who say it is the only way one can capture the vitality of the landscape, but I feel I capture more with my photographs that I can use later in the studio, than my efforts to paint the changing light and colors. Good practice, yes, and I'll keep up with it, but it's certainly not the end all - for me. Thanks for helping me unburden my guilt! LOL!

siberart wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 4:31 PM

I am with you completely.  I have tried several times with a very large group of local artists.  It is not my thing for sure

rctaller wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 5:13 PM

I belong to The Gallery Painting Group in London Ontario which is a Plein Aire group. We paint from May until October when we have our yearly show. The criteria for taking part in the show is each member has to attend at least 5 of the group's planned paintouts which are every Tuesday and Saturday through our season. Although our Tues. and Sat. paintouts are usually in the same place, we rarely go to the same place twice through the season. With our weather there is no way we can paint year round and rarely do we totally finish our paintings at each session. Most artists take photos so the painting can be completed but before they leave the site there is nearly always a painting that depicts a living, factual subject with shadows, degrees of shades and light that is so hard to see from just a photo.

Every artists has their own unique setup with some being as small to transport as a grocery bag or as large as needing to make several trips to their transport vehicle.  I use a rolling grocery bag and carry my chair.

After each painting session we get together to see each other's work for praise, encouragement, assistance if it is needed, etc.

If someone needs physical assistance in order to participate in our group, we assist with whatever is needed if possible.

Painting in a controlled climate, in solitude and isolation has it's place but there is absolutley nothing to compare with being outdoors; seeing the world in real life; watching the shadows and light change right in front of you; the added realism to your work by way of a blowing leaf/bit of dirt/bug/etc; (and there are lots of etc.s).

The two best parts of our club's mandate are the companionship of other artists and the exploration of places we would never know existed if we didn't belong to our group. It makes the "difficulties" as expressed by many artists when thinking/doing pleine aire seem inconsequential and unimportant.

on 28 Jul 2012 6:14 PM

I used to lug the kit around once, made some rather fine paintings too. Spent time taking shelter under picnic tables in downpours etc; These days I take only a pocket watercolour set and a sketch book 5 x 4 inches.

 I pick up shells, twigs, carmine leaves and other found objects for my jewellery which I would never even have dreamed to wrought in the wilderness (no electricity for casting) I also play with poly clay creating a pallet to work the landscape textures etc; into a piece. Could I do all this in the wilderness ? Yeah sure I could if I wanted to ristrict myself to those places that can be only reached by a 4 wheel drive loded to the roof with all the nessasaries, but what if I want to go a mile  beyond that point. Well you get the idea. Home safe in my studio, warm in winter, air conditioned in summer. Yes it's true I'm a total softie, but I like to regard myself as practical.

Judy McFee wrote
on 28 Jul 2012 7:47 PM

I find that my colors are more vibrant when I paint plein air.

on 28 Jul 2012 8:10 PM

After reading these artists' comments, I have ordered from Amazon a rolling crate to lug all the supplies, and to which I can strap my French easel and a chair.  I'm going out there and paint some of the beauty to be found in this area!

All your comments - the ones who like to paint in the outdoors, and those who prefer to sketch and take photos, then paint in the studio - are encouraging.  I think I'll pack the camera along with the paints.  

Thanks people! Can I challenge some of you to get out there and  draw or paint? If it's too hot this summer (as it is here), maybe you'll join me in the Fall.

on 29 Jul 2012 2:59 AM

Thanks Marion. This is an interesting one! I grieve because I don't get out into the wild enough to paint en plein air. Whenever I've done it I've come home with work that is the better for it...... except that time when a watercolour was washed completely away by the rain, leaving a graduated wash! Even then, in a way it depicted my experience!!! More recently I spent the weekend in the heart of Snowdonia painting the mountains and the huge rocks and gushing falls. Beautiful sunshine and this time with oils, it may not have mattered had it rained.

When I sketch..... and I do like to carry something to take notes of any sort.... I rarely come home with a piece of work, but the quality of looking is always improved so that, as you say, the information is more useful if and when I use it at home to produce a piece of work, written or painted.

Equipment..... carrying it, lifting it over stiles and struggling with it through gates and over rough terrain.... a nuisance. I'm not getting any younger! So keeping it to a minimum while enabling me to produce a piece of work that soaks up the whole experience is important. A small pochade box (mine takes 6x8" or an 8x10" on its side) adapted to fit on a light-weight easel works well for me. A lightweight stool attached to an equally lightweight rucksack works quite well for me..... and the help, maybe, of a companion equally captivated by our Welsh landscape, is all I need really. Oh, yes..... tough walking shoes/boots, waterproof mac, thermos! And the car is never far away! I've really no excuse!

You've quite put me in the mood! Happy painting - or sketching. It's getting out there that really matters, isn't it!

alfeze wrote
on 29 Jul 2012 7:48 AM

Oh what an interesting article and discussion that has followed. I am definitely a part time artist as I do computing for a living. But most chances I get when on vacation and I an switch mindset then I love to find somewhere to do a pen and watercolour sketch. Although, as most of our holidays are in the alps skiing, it can be a challenge on the freezing fingers and frezzing paint;-) Most recently, possibly age related, definitely scredness related, I use sketching as a reason for doing my own thing and not keeping up with the others on the red\black slopes.. I love finding a quiet bit, absorbing the air and peace and doing a quick sketch sitting on the snow. I never take them away and do something more with them, ven though the intension is often there. But who cares, I love capturing those moments in the ever changing environment:-)

In my studio I might make jewellery or glass art from the feelings that I had, or just enjoy the release and return that the sketch did to bring out that other side of me.

Holly242 wrote
on 29 Jul 2012 10:02 AM

This resonates.  I  went to Monhegan to paint en plein air, but I could not stop long enough to paint.  I had never been there and I only had 4 days.  So much to see, so little time and I wanted to see it all!  I realized that painting requires stopping, but what my heart and soul really wanted was to take it all in, move, breathe deeply.    Instead I sketched a little but took lots of photos, and kept a journal.  I painted my trip once I got back home.    

DanaTD wrote
on 30 Jul 2012 9:37 AM

Hi Marion,

I can really relate to the annoyance of lugging around equipment for Plein Aire sessions. I'm small and not too strong and rely on public transportation and  curse my load every time I have to go to the site and come home.

That having been said, I simply cannot paint from photographs or color sketches. They don't have enough visual information for me. Also the actual

experience of painting in a studio from a photo or sketch is not as rewarding as painting from life. For bad weather, I just set up a still life in my studio. While I detest carting around stuff to and from the site, I forget about it as soon as the painting session begins.

But I can't tolerate the painting experience not being rewarding. I'm sure it shows in my work. I make plenty of mistakes with my plein aires but I have a much better track record of the results turning out good. And even if they don't, I've usually studied the subject enough by doing my original oil painting to know what mistakes I've made. The original becomes my sketch so to speak but it has a lot more info and is the result of more observation than a photo or study. Of course, the painting is not really plein aire then but I don't care about that. As long as the painting is good, that's all that matters.

I think artists either have a natural affinity for working from photos and sketches or working from life. I know a wonderful artist who breaks out in a cold sweat about working from life; it's not her thing. But her works from photos are breathtaking.

Barmon wrote
on 30 Jul 2012 1:34 PM

Edgar Degas would be proud of you for writing this article!

KatPaints wrote
on 30 Jul 2012 9:25 PM

Reading through the comments I see some common thoughts.

1. Plein Air is challenging physically and creatively. (You bettcha! Let's not forget the insects, weather, sunburns, and other challenges.)

2. Some people do plein air for social reasons first, creative reasons second. (If you are concerned about being left out of a show for using photographs, maybe you need to find a group that is OK with this. If Plein air allowed studio work, it would no longer be plein air.)

3. Studio painting is easier. ( My studio work is significantly better, significantly. But for me, nothing beats working from life and being outside.)

4. Plein air is a trend. Yes it's been around since the invention of tube paints, but recently it's marketed as "plein air outfitting/safari" Just check out some of the graphics and look of plein air websites. You too can be Indiana Jones with a paintbrush.  Yep, it's the manly sort of art. Man against nature - a solitary figure in the wilderness. Load up your gear and tame the wild with your 354 Pro pochade box, complete with brush holders and shiny umbrella. (That's OK, I'll still do it. I wish I could quit my job and do it full time.)

For those of you wanting a cart.(Cajunkermie54) Yep, I have one too. I got it from Target for about $15 in the luggage section. It works OK but not  in a wooded area with lots of tree roots and stones. I can use it only every now and then because of the terrain.

Yes, I have considered a sketchbook. I'm also toying with the idea of an extremely lightweight plein air set up that is less than five pounds to carry. Haha! Actually, the more I research, the more possible it is starting to seem.

Snomad, I own a Soltek (love it) but now I'm trying to find a way to get rid of it - at least for travel.

Mikewascher, So you're the guy who cuts down the handles of their paintbrushes! I've hear about you people. I think I will eventually invent something to meet my needs. I've come up with a few farfetched ideas only to find that the product actually exists for another purpose which is great - It will simply require some adjustment on my part. I realize that I will need to limit my Soltek to certain situations and find an ultralightweight one for travel. (though my soltek was awesome on a really windy day. My hand was blowing in the wind, but not my panel or easel.  Thanks for the description of your "gear."

mariettetb wrote
on 31 Jul 2012 8:43 AM

!!  my comment disappeared??

  My gear that I always have in my backpack is a 16 pan W&N watercolor box of 1/2 pans, (refilled with some of my own tube colors for a custom palette) a couple of medium sized watercolor pads or blocks and a sketchbook - the pan box is put in another small box (1.5"x 5"x10+-") w/ my brushes, pencils, pens, binder clips and a folded paper towel or two to cushion things.  Throw in one plastic peanut butter jar of water, a piece of camping pad to sit on, and I'm off!  Depending on the amount of paper and water I haul along, it all weighs about 3 pounds. I think.  My husband custom made my kit box, and it is a prized possession; but I think a little plastic tackle box could be pressed into service just as well, and be lighter!

  This kit has been around the world and out into my backyard.  I love the paintings I can hack out in an hour or so, they are fresher and more spontaneous than what I can manage under more 'considered' conditions.  Some of them are framable, some are just great reminders of a distant place.

kbrown30 wrote
on 1 Aug 2012 11:42 AM

Dear Marion,

 I have backpacked with art supplies (oils, watercolors, pastels, what have you,) in mountains over 10,000 feet. I have had watercolors washes freeze on the paper before they could dry (made a very interesting pattern). I've continued to paint  while the easels next to me were blowing away.

If I'd known plein air was a one upmanship contest I'd have dressed better and taken photos. I go out and paint because I like to go out. Period. Are the things I do in the field my best work?  Not hardly. Do I care if someone thinks completing a painting in the field makes it somehow purer? Not really. Do I spend time creating tiny field kits that fit in a pocket.Yes. Do travel brushes on sale make my heart beat faster? Yes. Am I enchanted by people who travel to really remote places to paint? Yes. Do I wish I could be doing that, too?  You bet.  Do I mentally create palettes of colors I would take with me  to paint a specific place? Yes. Do I like to compare notes about equipment with other outdoor painters? Yes I might learn something about what would work better for me. Do I think less of people who don't feel as I do? No. I don't have time to waste on that.

You are only a Wimp if you choose to think it so.

Paint on.

Kathleen

on 1 Aug 2012 1:24 PM

Fabulous and fascinating reading through all these comments. It makes part of me want to rush out with canvas, brush and paints, but the other part of me has looked out the studio window at how strongly the wind is blowing (not unusual on the Isle of Skye) and gets all practical... It seems to me there's plein-air kit to deal with sunshine, but what about wind? Any suggestions?

KatPaints wrote
on 1 Aug 2012 9:07 PM

Thanks kbrown30. I bet I'd enjoy painting with you, I like your attitude.

Yes, the oneupmanship is ridiculous. The stories and comments that I have heard from some artists would be considered immature or unprofessional if they were commented in a place of employment or design studio. When someone pulls out the oneupmanship card, they are revealing that they have some sort of insecurity about themselves, the process, or their art --- or you think it is the other person, when it is actually you that has the issue.

About sturdy, wind resistant equipment. I would be interested in this also. As I said I love my Soltek (will keep it for life) and I guarantee it performing awesomely in high winds (I needed to brace my arm and hand, but not my easel.) but I would like to go even lighter in weight - much lighter for travel (without the risk of it blowing over.) When I was painting on a windy day, a man nearby painted with a pochade box and tripod and seemed to have no trouble with the wind. One other man painted inside his car with a makeshift board/easel on his steering wheel. So smart!  I also heard that another person has a hatchback and pops the back, has a seat, a hatch above in case of rain...

KatPaints wrote
on 1 Aug 2012 10:01 PM

Actually, I just re-read a few comments and I must edit my post. KBrown because of the extra space, your post looked like a new paragraph and new idea. Now I see you didn't hike 10,000 feet, have an easel that was sturdy while others were blowing away, and dealt with freezing paint.  Dang, I thought "here's a woman with lots of experience and I must pick her brain to see how she's handled these situations."  My faux pas.

Frankly, I have no issue with true positive statements made by artists; feel free to toot your own horn.  It is when the comment is made as a dig or as an attempt to bring others down that is an issue. I guess I should have called it "one  downmanship" rather than one upmanship in my previous post.

4Beauty wrote
on 2 Aug 2012 7:56 AM

As just a budding artist I have tried to take "the stuff" with me when going on vacations.  My biggest challenge is that when my family is out on a walkabout we keep walking!  I did buy a mini kit to fit in my backpack (thus increasing the odds of having it with me when time allowed), but last  weekend at the beach I found it was a bit too tiny too be practical.  

There was no way to keep the wind from blowing the paper.  My kit is a zippered portfolio.  There are two elastic straps to hold the paper, but you can't paint that way.  If I painted on a notebook pad I had nowhere to lay a finished piece to dry while starting a new one.

Any tips?  Also, do people take a cup for rinsing brushes or what?  Many thanks.

KatPaints wrote
on 2 Aug 2012 6:35 PM

4 Beauty, It is unfortunate that this blog is no longer on the main page - less people are likely to read and respond now.

I thought about this myself - how to paint on a beach or somewhere with little or no stuff. If you're able to sit on the ground, sand, etc. you are in good shape. If your willing to use this in your lap, then that's great also.

Some time ago, I checked out Utube videos of plein air easels and pochade boxes. You'd be amazed at all the good ideas out there. some artists transformed old cigar boxes, pencil boxes old laptop covers, etc.

It sounds like you are using watercolor or acrylic, correct? If you are working on paper, the edges can be taped. A cup can be an old tin can or cut plastic water bottle, maybe a collapsible cup.  You can purchase a raymar canvas or panel carrier or make your own with spacers similar to something you find inside a pizza box to prevent the pizza from sticking to the lid.

on 16 Aug 2012 1:43 AM

We enjoyed the recent plein air blog of artist Marion Boddy-Evans and agree with her sentiments. We have

on 2 Sep 2012 7:38 AM

I am one of happy Marion's students. I had a lot of doubts about my ability to paint outdoors and It was you, Marion who insisted that I continue with outdoors studies. I am very gratefull to you, Marion for this.

I am also live in a place with extreme climate conditions. Heat here is dangerous for life. So I have 3 types of outdoor studies. Most of time I use the most primitive cellular phone cam to make shots whenever  and wherever I am going. I use cam as a notebook, though I have a pocketsize notebook for scetches as well.

The second is (in tolerrable wheather) 4-5 hours session making two 30x40 cm studies at a time from different positions at the same location. For this occasions I got a very light painter's case with telescopic legs and light folding stool in a plastic bag. All my equipment is less than 4 kg in total.

The third type is painting views from the windows of the hotels, using the same painter's case, travelling with me in a  small suitcase with my clothes.

What I found is that I am able to finish landscape within 2 hours outdoors and that I fail to do the same working indoor. I think that when I paint outdoors I paint basicly what I feel rather than what I see, making mixtures more intuitevely, while indoors I spend most of the time analyzing colours of the reference photos with MSPaint,  and creating another colour system on the base of the real one applying Marion's Artistic License.

on 21 Oct 2012 7:20 AM

@Natalya Combining intuitive and deliberate can create great results. Don't forget it's an option to continue with a painting stared outdoors back in the studio, perhaps to to tighten up the expressive and move it closer to realism, perhaps to refine the colors more. Likewise, taking an underpainting from the studio outdoors!

on 1 May 2013 4:43 AM

Sketching is information gathering and painting is translating the information. That's where I've