Want to improve your landscape painting fast? Or just your painting in general. Painting plein air helps so much you will be amazed at how different it is from painting from a photo.
Today I am going back to the beach and I will be painting a breaking wave. When you paint from life I find that you then realise how much you miss by just using a photo. Your eye focuses on something quite different from what you see when you take a photo of that same scene. The colours are never quite the same and you miss the richness of the colours in the shadows and highlights in a photo.
It can be a challenge to paint outdoors and it takes courage if there is the chance that people will come over and look over your shoulder. But I would encourage you to give it a try. Not only can it improve you landscape painting but it will help you to use photo references more effectively as well.
When you paint plein air you do need to paint quickly. Here are some tips that I find useful.
Take as few materials as you can. You don't want to be lugging a whole lot of equipment around with you. Work out your basic palette and just take that. Paints can get heavy and take up room. Because I travel with my paints a bit I have a bag ready packed that I can just pick up and go. When I come home I make sure that I replace anything that is used up so I don't forget anything. Nothing worse that getting out there to find you have run out of blue paint or you forgot to pack a water bottle.
If you are just starting with Plein air painting make it easy on yourself and pick something close to home. First couple of times I did it, I just went down our long driveway and found something to paint. Even something in your own garden is fine. That way if you do forget something important you can easily get it. Also you can see what kind of set up will work for you in the future.
Once you find what you whant to paint take a quick photo of it.
Ask yourself what attracts you to this scene? Why do I want to paint that? What is your centre of interest? What effect am I painting, rather than what object am I painting? Tell your story of why you wanted to paint this.
Mix your colours as much as you can before you start. That way once you start painting you can get on with getting that painting done quickly rather than stopping a lot to mix your colours.
Today I will be looking at the effect of the wind and light on the foam of that breaking wave and the colour of the curl of the wave.
I am playing around with that concept of warm highlights and cool shadows this time. Still not sure about this concept. I will be trying to learn more about this in the future.
Remember you don't always have to paint everything you see. As an artist you get to choose if something adds to your painting or not. You can leave stuff out or even put stuff in. If you feel it will enhance you painting. Feel free to move things about if it will help you tell your story.
So pack that backpack and try painting something from life outside.