Painting outside is the focus of today’s post! Whether you’re hoping to capture some of fall’s beauty, waves crashing on the beach, or a brilliant rose blooming in the garden–I hope these tips will inspire you! :-)
Tip #1 – Keep Your Supplies Simple
Keeping your supplies to a minimum can be so helpful! If you’re using watercolors, bringing a sketchbook, small case of watercolors, a paintbrush or two, pencil, water jar and some paper towels should be fine! Sometimes hiking a little could be involved before deciding where you want to paint.
Tip #2 – Contain Your Artwork
Sketch a light square or rectangle around the space where you plan to work. This is a great way to help yourself keep your work contained. Have you ever had the experience where you start drawing something and then end up with not enough space to continue the rest of the dress, tree, etc? After creating your square or rectangle, put some light marks to place things inside of the space. Start with one object. A tree, for example, and use that to guide where you will place your other objects.
Tip #3 – Mix Your Colors
When you begin to paint, try to keep yourself from using one color straight from the pan. (This is if you are using watercolor.) Try to make your mixes at least two colors each.
Tip #4 – Small Jar with Lid
When painting outside, take your paint water (or turpentine if using traditional oils) in a container with a lid that does not leak. A simple canning jar like this one can work well!
Tip #5 – Lean Your Artwork on Something Steady
When painting outside, using an easel, table, or other sturdy object can help in keeping your artwork firm and in place. For a simple, makeshift easel, use a board and lean it against a table.
Tip #6 – Squint and Squint Again
This is probably one of my favorite tips! Squint! When looking at your subject, squint your eyes and you’ll find that the values become easier to see!
Tip #7 – Paint on a Sunny Day
When first starting out, I’d highly recommend painting on a bright, sunny day. This creates stronger shadows and lights, providing an easier to follow pattern to copy. Cloudy days can be a little more difficult as values can be less clear.
Tip #8 – Bring Paper Towels
Whether you’re using watercolor, oil or acrylic paint outside, bring paper towels and a small garbage bag to throw them away in. A rag can work well too, although it can provide a bigger mess as the rag tends to be used longer, and its easier to get your hands messy with paint.
Tip #9 – Clean Your Brushes
While out in the field it can be difficult to clean your brushes in dirty water. And I certainly do not recommend washing your brushes in a creek, waterfall or stream. ;-) If you’re using watercolor, rinse out your brush in the dirty water that you have so at least the brush is lightly diluted with paint and wait till you get home to wash it out.
Tip #10 – Have Fun!!
Enjoy your time painting outside and try not to expect a masterpiece. Let your time outside simply be a time to study and take notes. When you’re back inside with painting and pictures, you can do a larger work that you can take more time on. Allow yourself to enjoy the process of collecting information and let go of the inner expectation so many of us artists possess to create something beautiful straight off. ;-)
I hope these tips are helpful! Please do share your tips in the comments!
Do you like painting outside?
What kind of supplies do you like using?
What is your favorite subject to paint?
Many, many, thanks to my dear friend and wonderful photographer, Elizabeth for the pictures in this post!!
Post edited on 1/29/17.