Nothing tests your ability to wing it like painting from life...especially outdoors where the light changes every minute. You dont have much time to think before the whole landscape changes before your eyes. You have to trust your immediate instincts and get that paint down before you miss the perfect light.
In this photo, I'm spending part of my camping trip at my easel enjoying the bright, crisp morning sun. Despite the millions of mosquitoes, I stayed focused on where the warm sunshine was hitting the trees, moss, and leaves.
Even though I only create outside like this about once or twice a year I truly think continuous Plein Air painting can really build a new kind of relationship with an artist's skills. After painting with such haste and really focusing on your subject at the same time, you start to get intimate with your style and how you normally mix your colours. The many thoughts that run through your head that you usually just naturally dont notice suddenly become very apparent. The time constraint forces you to constantly be shifting your thoughts towards what is in front of you and how you are going to replicate it on the canvas. You learn that letting go of being perfect is the only way and you discover new ways to paint.
I can't guarantee I will paint Plein Air more than a few times a year. I have two young boys and not too much extra time but I do enjoy the time when I have it. But I wanted to share my experience so far with getting my studio out in nature. If you're curious at all about trying to paint from life, I highly suggest it. Get yourself an inexpensive setup and go for it. You never know, you may fall in love with creating in the fresh air, with the landscape right in front of you.
I have included a list of everything you will need for your first trip. Keep in mind that everyone's setup is a little different.
Plein Air Must Haves
> Light folding easel
> Small tubes of paint
> A container that closes to keep water or solvent
> Paper towel
> Brush case and brushes
> I have a small wet pallet for my acrylics but you can find one that works best for you.
> If you have oils you need a protective box to carry your wet paintings home, these can be
> plastic bag for garbage
> Water and food
> Hat and sunscreen
> Umbrella. You can find specific Plein Air umbrellas online to cover your painting so it isn't
directly in the sun. (I need one of these as you can see in the photo lol)
> Possibly some fellow Plein Air painter company :)