WHEN YOU PACK UP your tubes of paint, brushes, fold up easel, and all the rest, you find out quickly what you forgot as you set up to paint outside on a summer day. When it’s hot and sunny I often forget my hat. Sunscreen sometimes too. (Luckily I paint with a group, so someone always has sunscreen.)
Once I left my brushes at home, but that wasn’t too dire since the four brushes and palette knives I used the week before were in the drawer of my easel. Another time I forgot water, but I was painting by a lake, and I had a cup in my car. So that worked out. This summer it sprinkled, then rained fully, twice. Both times my paintings got a little polka dotted from the raindrops. All fixable things when I get back to the studio.
What I love about painting outside is that I need to work fast to keep up with weather and the track of the sun. The vista I pick at 9 a.m. is lit one way, and that may be part of what attracts me to the spot. By 10 or 11 the same scene may look completely different. But all the time I’m painting and adapting to those changes. Wind blows a bug into the paint. Sometimes it blows the painting OFF the easel onto the ground. That’s unfortunate. But fixable too.
With the arrival of fall my plein air painting days are numbered. Our group hopes to make it 3-4 more weeks. Then we’ll move into an indoor studio on Friday mornings for the cold months.
Getting out to where birds fly overhead, the sun beats down, the water laps the shore, is the draw. If I come out with a painting I like, all the better.
More of my plein air paintings can be seen in the portfolios.