Plein air painting trips, tips, and things
2019 has been a busy year so far and unfortunately I have not been plein air painting as much as I’d like. When we drove to New York this past August I packed my plein air kit and made sure to take time and get outside to paint.
Late Summer in New York can be unpredictable but we got really nice weather. Barefoot in the grass painting in the morning light. I don’t have a chance to do that living in downtown Chicago.
Plein air tip: take a photo
Take a picture of your scene when you see it in the light you’d like to paint it in. As you work through the next couple of hours, the light and your shadows will change. It will be helpful to have the reference photo.
I changed up my plein air brushes
Last year I wasn’t really happy with some of my plein air brushes. I don’t take my studio brushes with me but I still need good brushes for plein air too. I looked around and found this set of brushes that came in this nice ventilated wood box. It did have a couple of brushes that were too large for plein air use, but I keep those in the studio. Then, I had room to add some of my other brushes that I wanted to keep. It worked out really well. Some of the benefits of this set:
The cost of series 36 no.12 kolinsky red sable round alone makes the set an excellent value
Series 991 is made of our highest quality petit gris pur russian blue squirrel hair
Certified green manufacturing with sustainable wood handles
Handmade in Germany at our family owned factory since 1890
I love the quality of the brushes and so far I’m enjoying using them. The handles are longer than on my mop brushes and I think that’s part of the benefit for me.
Making time for plein air painting
Early September I joined the PAPC group (Plein air painters Chicago) for a couple of paint outs. I was happy to see everyone again. Also, this first paint out was at the Dearborn Station on Polk street adjacent to Printers Row. One of my favorite areas downtown. I have sketched here a lot and I was looking forward to painting it en plein air. The station was owned by the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, which itself was owned by the companies operating over its line. Dearborn Station was the oldest of the six intercity train stations serving downtown Chicago. (wikipedia)
Plein air tip: trust your eye
As you get started, walk around your subject and find the view point that catches your attention. Think about how the light will change over the next few hours and how that will effect your location and subject.
Watercolor plein air demo
Later in September I joined the PAPC group again for an early Saturday morning watercolor demonstration along the Chicago River. It was right on the River Walk across from the Merchandise Mart with a beautiful view. The Chicago riverwalk is one of our staple paint out locations every year and it’s a stunning view. Again, we got really good weather and light so the day was great!
Plein air tip: keep learning
Always keep learning! Learn from others, your own successes as well as mistakes. When you’re learning, you open your mind to accept new information. This process can also be inspirational.
Art boards for plein air painting
I grabbed a pad of these plein air art boards by Canson one day when I was shopping at a local art store. I’ve had some people recommend it to me. They are a little bit more durable for outdoor use and don’t buckle. I feel like I’ll continue to use it for practice paintings but keep my 300lb paper for framed work.