More great tips
by Beth Cole
Many of my newsletter readers are artists, so this last issue I asked them to share anything they had learned about painting outside. I got some great feedback so I wanted to share.
Artist Susan Kenney said “I paint in the passenger seat of my car. I use an old wooden wine box as my pallet holder on the bottom resting in my lap and the top of the box keeps the small canvas/panel in place. This box rests on the dash. I am like you on the shy side. So the car keeps almost all people away. I like to find a good parking lot, usually near stores so that if I need to I can go to a clean public restroom. We all know how important that is!"
From artist Christina Aiton - “You asked for what we have learned that has helped the most when we paint plein air - living in Florida we do most of our plein air in the fall, winter, and early spring; and I have learned that returning to the same location several times can inspire you even more than it might have the first time. You see it more clearly and you begin to understand why you were drawn to it in the first place - and your paintings show that. “ You can see Christina’s work here.
My good friend and indoor painting artist Jeanne Cutler joked “I have learned to keep a sturdy paint of glass between me and the scene I’m painting; air conditioning in summer, heat in winter!” She also added some tips from artist Stefan Baumann, i.e. use the same size canvas all the time and have a box to carry multiple wet canvases of your chosen size. He also suggests using a gator board covered with oil primed Belgian linen. He says it's a light weight and a beautiful archival surface.
Artist Michelle Murdock shared some great tips. She says "Once the sketch and composition is figured out, be sure to block in those shadows first. Because they are going to change by the time I am done. Also that makes me block in my darkest darks first and the shadows and then I mark my lightest light. Then block in the rest. Figuring out the value of shadows is still difficult. Looking through 2 tiny holes to isolate the value of 1 thing compared to the other is supposed to help. I think I need a very small hole because I still get confused by all the values outside. Photos are very deceptive on colors and actual values.
I am also working on staying in the area within my view finder that I originally picked out. I just learned foregrounds are meant to allow the viewer to step into the painting. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Regarding where to paint: I take walks with my dog around ponds where we live and am always seeing areas to paint. I think I need to paint the same areas in their different lights rather than paint it once. I am looking forward to wild flowers blooming again at our local lake. Meadows are a challenge. So are lotus flowers and lily ponds.
Regarding equipment: I can now fit everything in a large backpack and my tripod carrier and small canvas carrier. I recently bought the Day tripper easel set up from Joshua Been. So I think it will be easier to return to all those spots along trails that I love."
Thank you friends and painting comrades, I love your suggestions and appreciate you taking the time to share.
I'm so ready to get outside and paint. In Nebraska as I am writing this, it is the day before Easter, and the temperature is in the mid thirties with 4" of snow forecasted for tonight and tomorrow. I am thinking positive though, the sun will come out, it will be beautiful and I'll be ready to paint. Hope you are, too. Thanks for following along.
Soli Deo Gloria
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