Things I Learned as an Oil Painter: Thing #13

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maccski's avatar
Sorry, that was a little more than a "brief" break. It's taken me a while to get back in the swing of it.

Thing the thirteenth:

Plein air painting is a different ball game to studio painting.

This one sounds obvious, but my recent painting trip to the Charlevoix region of Quebec, Canada has given me new insights. To be honest, it was my first ever plein air painting experience. Ever. It was a slight case of jumping in at the deep-end because I was there for 5 days in wildly changeable weather (wind, snow, rain, sun & fog) with a group of unbelievably accomplished painters.

I think it's worth breaking this thing down into thinglets (related to spring painting in the great white north, but valid for a lot of other conditions):

Thinglet 13a: Be ready for wind. Weigh, clip and strap everything down or you will spend precious painting time chasing stuff and peeling your palette off your clothing (yes, I speak from experience).

Thinglet 13b: Don't get too hung up on the details of your painting. If you want a coherent piece at the end of it, decisions need to be made quickly and you need to stick to them.

Thinglet 13c: The light can mess with your head. Changing light conditions can have a dramatic effect on your work. Not only does the scene in front of you change, but the way you see your canvas and your palette also changes. Be careful to keep this in mind when struggling to mix that pesky green. Move your easel if need be.

Thinglet 13d: Bring everything. If you have a vague notion you may need it, bring it. You don't want to get stuck out there missing something that has suddenly become critical (e.g. an umbrella).

Thinglet 13e: Wear a hat and layers (lots of them). Remember you're going to be standing in one spot so you won't be generating any heat. A body can get mighty cold standing still in relatively mild temperatures... A tip I heard, but didn't try: stand on a piece of styrofoam.

Thinglet 13f: Don't forget food, fluids and a bathroom strategy (easier for gents).

Thinglet 13g: Don't be a wuss - get out there. I'd rather have a few mediocre paintings than a whole bunch of excellent excuses.

Thinglet 13h: Don't expect the results to be the same as you would get in the studio (unless you are one of those unbelievably accomplished painters I had the pleasure of painting beside).

Thinglet 13i: While you're frozen, covered in paint, hungry and in need of the bathroom, never forget you're having fun!

...and that's just what I picked up from my first 5 days.  I'm in complete awe of the amazing artists that I painted with, some of whom are in their eighties. It was a wonderful, humbling experience - I'll be back next year for sure!

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Why am I posting this stuff?…

Take a look at my Facebook page...if you like it, please "Like" it!…

Hopefully thing #14 won't take so long to arrive...
© 2013 - 2021 maccski
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glunac's avatar
On things I hate about not painting at home, is traveling with a wet painting (without smudging or ruining it in transit). I prefer to paint at home, in safety & in comfort but I do admire those brave enough to try Plein Air.
maccski's avatar
I had a friend build me a wet canvas carrier. It's a box with slots for sliding canvases in and out. It fits 12"x16", 16"x20" and 16x24" canvases. All it cost me was a painting!
glunac's avatar
Sounds like a very useful piece of equipment.
How wonderful to have such talented friends.
maccski's avatar
That gives me an idea of a new "thing": harness the power of bartering!
TomOliverArt's avatar
Sounds like a lot of fun!
21stCenturyDamocles's avatar
i appreciate your sens of humor about it plen air is not for the week of hart!
secretplanet's avatar
thinglets! so cute: baby things! thinglet 13g definitely applies to me. i have to do something about that!
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