Plein Air Watercolor

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Lori Woodward posted on 15 May 2009 11:21 AM

How many of you out there do plein air watercolors?

I have to say (and if you know me, I'm never brief) Wink  that I just love watercolor for painting studies when I travel. The supplies are light, no solvents, dries right away, and paper is so much easier to tote than canvas (for me)

I don't necessarily do finished paintings en plein air - just get too distracted. I do have lots of friends who paint entire, finished works outdoors - and I envy them. Alas, spending hours standing infront of my easel just doesn't work for my personality.

Recently, Rosemary Ladd, a personal friend and oil painter has been traveling with a kit of watercolors. She loves the convenience. Working with WC on location is relaxing, there's no rushing and you can stop and start any time with little clean up.

If you're a plein air watercolor fan, let us hear from you.

www.loriwords.com

 

 

 

 

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Hats off to you Lori! I alway think of water color as a studio media. I don't use water color as I haven't been able to figure them out yet. I may have to talk one of the water color people into joining me for a day in Plein air.

When I take my self out to paint Plein air I go with oils but my set up for the canvas is similar to a wter color set up as I tape a canvas to a board and strech it after it has dried and if I like it. I use media in a tube so there are no solvents to take along, except a small 50ml tube of thinner which is no bigger than a tube of paint. The brushes clean up with a little soap and water or "Really Works" hand cleaner. I take along a light weight chair and find myself painting a few strokes then standing back, (repeat until shoes are worn out)..

The AZ cactus painting is much to my likeing! I enjoy the look of cactus and have them in the studio. They remind me of the west and how I would love to return there someday...

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Yeah, if you've never tried watercolor for outdoor studies, it's the greatest as far as convenience. When I tote oils around, I worry about the paint sticking to my car (even though I have ways of dealing with wet paint). When the watercolor is dry, I just slip it into my portfolio. A stack of 11x14 pieces of WC paper fits into my suitcase easily too. I'm a bit more relaxed about not getting paint on the hotel room floor.

I also take sketch paper and graphite with me to record details and the shapes of mountains, sketches of boats, etc.

I'll admit though that I am really more of a studio painter anyway, so my intent is to record information in Watercolor and pencil so that I can paint a larger studio painting later with any media I want.

The other convenience is that I can pack watercolors when I fly without any worry about the airline removing my paint tubes.

The next time I paint out, I'm planning on experimenting with Open Acylics with gesso primed MDF panels.

 

www.loriwords.com

 

 

 

 

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I love to paint plein air with watercolor on small sheets of Twinrocker Handmade Watercolor paper which is about 200 lb. and has a natural deckled edge all around.  This slightly heavier paper than the average 140 lb. makes it easy to handle and turn while painting without kinking, and the natural deckled edge gives the painting a finished look even without a mat.  It is also very tough and correctable so tide lines caused from fast dring in the sun can be lifted if they are unwanted.  I like to take sheets 11" x 14" and 12" circles with me in my suit case.

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I forgot to add that when I paint plein air, I like to take Twinrocker's colored or tinted watercolor paper with me along with white sheets.  The photo I uploaded is painted on a tinted watercolor paper called "Cripple Creek", a kind of taupe color which gives you an over all color to begin with and a  nice middle value.  Sometimes I use titanium white for highlights. 

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I've been plein air painting in watercolor for more than 35 years now. (back then it was just called "working on location")The past 6-8 years have really been fun with the current "plein air movement" enjoying popularity among artists as well as buyers.  Here's a 9x12 plein air painted in July at Rockport, Texas. Very windy day!  

I completed the painting "all in one go", no studio work.  A painting averages about 2 hours depending entirely on how many people stop to watch and strike up a conversation! Yes

Tina Bohlman, http://tinabohlman.com

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Glad people decided to continue the discussion here. Beautiful work above!

I'm getting ready for a trip to Maine next week. The foliage should be at peak color. I'm rarely up there in the fall, and I'll be bringing my watercolors and 11x14 sheets of Arches cold pressed and a few sheets of Arches hot pressed - so I can use both pencil and watercolor easily on the flat surface.

I've noticed that some of my oil painting friends have recently been doing their plein air studies in watercolor because of the easy clean up. Everything fits into a small pack pack.

 

www.loriwords.com

 

 

 

 

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There are a bunch of us here in Montreal who get together on Tuesdays during the summer to do plein-air painting, and many of us use watercolours. (I'm a new member.) I love it! Although I'm still a newbie at this -- I get such a charge from my day. My usual method was to go outside and sketch, mostly for values and composition, and then go inside to work from that inspiration with my colour memory. (Or work from reference photos in the winter -- it can be a bit chilly here to stay outdoors not moving much for too long!) With the plein-air method, I'm not yet particularly pleased with my results but I feel that it's adding another dimension somehow and that I'm getting further along the path of what I want to do with my art.

I painted this when my husband was running the 100 on 100 in Vermont this summer.

Donna McGee

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Tina-- Your plein air watercolor sure shows your 35 years of experience.  It's so detailed and still fresh!  Please post more.  I'll try to post another watercolor or two I painted plein air on my first Florida vacation two winters ago between Christmas and New Years.  We went to the Florida Keys, and now I truly know why there are "snow birds".  It's almost as color in Indiana as Canada, it just doesn't hang around quite as long.  These are on the same colored Twinrocker watercolor paper.

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Donna, you may have to add anti-freeze to the water colors to keep them from freezing...

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Hi J.B. Thanks, that's a wonderful and hilarious suggestion. As I only began painting outside this summer and, like you, usually work with a different medium (so not as much control over the wc's as I would wish), it hadn't seriously occurred to me to bring them out into the cold yet. I was thinking of my own comfort. That's why I laughed. Your suggestion makes me realize that instead of bringing just a sketchbook and pencils when I go skiing and my knee decides to act up, I could bring the watercolours instead. The ski chalets sometimes have pretty decent views. (Comfort again -- I get really cold when I'm not moving!) I wonder what effect the antifreeze would have on the pigments....

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Lori, your works are stunning. I especially like the caligraphic quality you have in your plein-air watercolours. The darks in this cactus painting create an interesting counter-movement to the paler, less textured diagonal. You've given me ideas!

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Thanks Donna, most people don't get my humor.

Always take your media of choice with you as you never know when the opportunity will arise to draw, paint or create. And if you don't have your tools with you, you will be kicking yourself, as I have done too many times in the past..

As an example I take my drawing pad & all to the pub. Before my frineds show up I sit with a brown ale and sketch the people interacting at the bar. SOmetimes they notice me and walk over to see what I'm drawing, most times they don't. Never had a bad comment or put down yet. Now that my scanner is up and running I can sart to post a few in the cafe drawing thread. On 2nd thought since I don't drink coffee I may have to start a "Pub Drawing" thread. Hopefully soon...

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I know what you mean by wanting to kick yourself -- thank heavens for cell phone cameras. Although I've got to find my cable to transfer the photos....

As a student, I did some drypoints from sketches I had done in pubs. I like to work in pen and ink for that (even less stuff to carry!), so the translation was easy. Does sketching in pubs count as plein-air, or does the air have to be fresh???

My problem with the watercolour sketches is that I am working on an Arches watercolour block, 9 x 12, which feels small. I'll buy a bigger one next time. And yes, I also work smaller; I guess that size is just so uncommitted for me.  I work on my lap, so that with the buckling of the paper on the block if it gets too wet means that I work more wet on dry. I'll get there.... I've included a terrible photo of an outdoor sketch that I turned into a watercolour painting in the studio. The colours work well in my dining room, so I framed it. The paper was drenched as I worked. And yes, the blooms near the bottom were on purpose. I aimed for light and airy, so the main contrast is with the colour and not with value. But I've really got to work on getting some more serious darks in my work, like the rhythm we see in that wonderful painting with the white building and the palm trees (sorry, if I go back to that page to get your names, I will lose what I've written here). Or that gorgeous layered quality of the darks in the watercolours on handmade paper. I would appreciate any insight you may have to offer. Whoops, lost track of time. Gotta go!

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Really love the mysterious feeling of this painting.

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