Although I was already reasonably competent at drawing and painting still lifes in the studio, when I first tried to paint outdoors many years ago, I was really unhappy with the results! I realised after those first few frustrating attempts, that I still had an awful lot to learn.
So I decided to break this new challenge down into smaller, more achievable steps.
1. I learned what I could from books and other sources about the effect of different light, atmospheric perspective and typical value schemes of outdoor paintings. I studied the composition of landscape painting.
3. I went outdoors with my sketch book and made pencil drawings of trees and other landscape elements. I also made colour sketches on my phone.
6. I got together a simple outdoor painting kit and practiced setting it up indoors. If you have a garden maybe you could to try it out there. I made a checklist so I wouldn't forget anything important.
By this point I felt reasonably prepared, and the next step was to go out and learn on the job. For my first outing I chose a familiar spot that was neither too public nor disconcertingly quiet, and chose a simple subject on a sunny day.
I still work on steps 1-5, because I want to keep learning and improving as much as I can.
Watch out for future posts where I will break down each step further and give more information on how I went about each stage.
You can sign up for updates using the form at the end of this post.
I’d love to know if you have any questions or comments - what are your experiences of plein air painting? How did you get started, or are you yet to take the plunge?