Only take the absolute essentials! For a project that requires the least amount of materials, stick to sketching or a drawing-based project. Less is more! If you plan to do a painting outside, use a limited colour palette combined with one paintbrush, a small cup of water and a small canvas or taped piece of watercolour paper. Place all necessary items into a bag or bucket for easy transportation.
If it’s meant to rain, ensure your creative space is sheltered. On hot or humid days, it may be best to create inside or set up your supplies in a shaded area. Bring lots of water for drinking to stay hydrated in the heat, and dress appropriately! On sunnier days, avoid squinting by facing your back to the sun and wearing sunglasses. Ensure that your chair and table are on even ground for an optimal setup.
If you plan to use your outdoor surroundings as inspiration for the artwork, take reference photos. These photos can be referred to if the lighting or weather changes and will be helpful if you want to divide the project into multiple sessions. To create a more dynamic landscape scene, focus on the colours and shapes you see rather than the finicky details. Try to capture the feeling and mood of your experience at that moment.
Sometimes, we forget to take a moment to pause. Nature has an incredible way of reminding us to be present, appreciate our surroundings and follow our instincts. When you are all set up and ready to take on a new art project outside…just before you get started, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and sigh it out. This will be a helpful reminder to slow down and enjoy the immersive experience of making art outdoors.
The French term “en plein air”, refers to a style of painting where an artist creates their artwork outdoors, directly in front of the subject they are depicting. In en plein air art, the artist typically works quickly to capture the fleeting effects of light, atmosphere, and weather of the scene, as well as the immediate impression or mood of the moment.
This approach to painting became associated with the Impressionist movement, with artists such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro among its prominent practitioners. En plein air painting can result in spontaneous and fresh works of art with a sense of immediacy and authenticity.