Plein air painting

Categories: Blog

So today I did something I was hoping to do for a very long time – painting outside and not from a photo. I went down to the river and set up my portable easel, which I got for my birthday just over a week ago. It was an interesting walk down to the river, with the very heavy easel on my shoulder, brushes and pallet knives rattling away on the inside of the box, holding a cup of coffee in one of my hands. The shop assistant in Sainsburys where I stopped to buy some lunch did look amused. 

Before I even started painting, I noticed few challenging things that I haven’t thought of before, even though they seem pretty obvious if you think about it. The first one was a lack of borders. Every photo has a given composition and puts everything neatly within the format you have. I don’t usually stick with the same format but I have to admit it helps. It’s much harder to decide how to fit what you want on the canvass (or board in my case) when it’s just all around you. In the end I took a photo with my camera just to decide how to frame my composition … funny that. On the other hand, you feel more free to postion things as you want. It is just very different.

The second challenge was the constantly changing light, which had a huge impact on my colours. It was a lovely day but lots of clouds, sun coming out every couple minutes and then hiding again. In the end I just decided to ignore it and just keep going.

It was interesting to see that the painting I came up with was in a completely different style than what I have done before and in a different colour scheme that I usually use. I am not completely sure why that was. One of the reasons would  be of course that I usually don’t paint so many trees in such a short distance. I did find that quite difficult. To be honest I don’t think I will be painting a similar scene any time soon again!

Quite a lot of people came by and complimented my painting, that was actually very nice. What I didn’t appreciate was the amount of little flies that I had to fish out of my painting… oh well, I guess that’s part of the experience 🙂

Over all I think it was a good learning experience. Am I happy with the painting? I am not sure. I would probably try to do it differently next time. If you are just used to paint from photos, I have to say it is quite different in so many ways. And I feel I have a lot more to learn about it, but I believe it is (or will be) rewarding. Photos just don’t capture things in the same way. Well… specially if you just take them with your phone 🙂