First plein air painting

May 1, 2022 | Painting

On May 1st I decided to go out on a plein air painting trip. It was nice weather and temperature to finally be outside and do it there. I was also eager to try something new and learn in a different way. Perhaps a plein air painting could teach me something that painting from photos can´t. I saw a lot of well known painters of today paint from plein air. We shall see if I discover something!

Looking for a location

I arrived to the location the day before. There is my parents cabin where I slept at night. The day before I went on a long walk to look around the area and choose a location that interested me the most. Some of the places I saw were a meadow, a leafy forest, a pine forest and an area of the cottage site.

At first, I thought I would hike a bit up to the mountain and find a place where I knew there were tall pine trees which looked very scenic and mysterious. Unfortunately, I had estimated the length and difficulty of the path a bit wrong and I got caught by my fear of bears, and so I decided to decline this option.

So I saw an area of pine trees down by the road. I thought I was decided for something like this:

Or possibly this:

I encountered a farm with ostriches.

After a long walk I went to the cottage, ate dinner and did a bit of studying.

The painting Saturday

The next day I waited quite late, to something like ten o´clock. I was slow in the morning but also, I didn´t want to come too early because I wanted the sun to be shining on my area.

I changed my mind that day and decided I was going to paint an area by the stream because I wasn´t feeling so adventurous that day. It was also very convenient because it was very close to the cabin and I didn´t have to carry my equipment for a long distance.

I hadn´t actually done much research to know what exactly to do or what to bring so I just bet. I took a textile bag which I filled with oil paint tubes, brushes and a palette, which was a small metal box with two flips. Then i took some tissues with me as well, and, of course, a small canvas. I also carried a portable easel, which was pretty light and easy to carry.

My canvas was very small. I went for a small one because I did not know what to expect from it time-wise. It is a first time so I went with the easy one that I could for sure get done in one session.

This was the place and the setup. There was a wonderful tree blossomed with white flowers. I liked the way they hanged above the stream. And I also loved the contrast of them to the dark tree trunks and the dark water in the stream. The whole scene looked soothing to me and it was interesting enough for me.

This was my metal flippy box palette I used, and lower is my textile bag and my backpack, the closed palette and my windbreaker.

The first problem to solve was how to determine what cut-out of the area I am seeing I will put on the canvas. I was trying to help myself a bit by looking through a rectangle I made with my hands. That was maybe a bit funny.

I noticed that the camera was able to picture a wider frame than my eye naturally selected. So my painting was a more zoomed-in version of the first picture above.

First, I mixed up a brown color to put down the placement of the objects with a handy flat brush. Then I started filling the areas with color.

This last picture was one of the finished painting. All in all, I am not disappointed with the result. However, I wish it would be more precise. That is what I will focus on next time. And for that reason, I need to take a thinner brush with me. The brush I took was just as thin as the thinnest lines you can spot there.

Another thing I would like to change next time, is that I want to use thinner paint in the lower layers. I got my paint a bit smushed and mixed. When I paint at home, I can always leave the paint dry comfortably before adding another layer. But with plein air it is not the case.

My paint looks overall more mushy and less dry than the plein air paintings I see from the masters or proffessional plein air painters. They can also reach more distinction and more crispness. In my case, things sort of blend on into another.

Moreover, I want to refine the painting according to the photo after it is dried.

I believe I need to examine it more in depth though and research about pleain air painting a bot further. But in two weeks, I want to be going into plein air again and painting that pine tree scene. Looking forward to that. Meanwhile, the painting is drying inside the cabin.

After I had finished painting, I had a bit of time left and so I went to pick flowers that I was going to be pressing. I press flowers for my other newly discovered passion with scrapbooking, journalling and hopefully soon journal making. But that is a different subject, that I would also like to write a little about in the future.

The last conclusion

When I was in the forest, I actually had to run from a wild boar. That was very scary as they are dangerous animals. That is why next time, I want to bring a horn that I will regularly make sounds with to scare them away in advance. They are said to be shy and avoidant of people and tent to attack only when surprised by a human.