New plein air


Well-known member
I am new to Plein air and to oil painting. As those of you that have done it know, Plein air painting can be a humbling experience and trying to learn oil painting at the same time can chop you off at the knees. One thing I realized quickly is that finding a composition for P.A. is a lot more challenging than composing with a camera. It seems like the best angles are always in the middle of the street, edge of a cliff, on someone's front lawn, above your head, or on the ground. All do-able for 1/125 of a second it takes to make a photo - but not for the hour+ it takes to do a painting.

This is an 8x10 I did this afternoon. The glistening spots are from the wet paint, after it dries they go away.

pa painting.jpg
Not bad Bongo. Plein Aire is difficult. As to finding the composition, try the viewfinder you carry with you or just cut one from card stock to carry.
bel lavoro. mi piace
Mi piace il mirino nella foto, ho questo.
(In realtà stavo mettendo le dita nella posizione sbagliata, quindi ha più senso, è una cornice, il mio era un esagono)
I love this Bongo. I think you did really well. It gives me a lot of inspiration to do it myself. Still working up the nerve. Your composition is framed perfectly, so you seem to already have that part down. ❤️
Wow, I sure relate to that! Finding a ”paintable” scene is -for me-difficult, too. Some people seem to be able to make even the trash cans in the alley look good.
For two firsts, plain air and oil, you sure have a winner: oomposition, old lead-in, three nice focal areas, the Rees to the V left, the flowers, and the distant tree. It’s a wonderful piece! Congratulations!
You are brave and wise to start out painting from life. Using a viewfinder is good practice. Making a separate composition/value sketch prio to your painting is very helpful as well. Also, for a beginner, it helps to start out with lean, washy paint for initial block in of color and value. Too much thick paint early on makes it difficult to layer paint unless you are very skilled in wet in wet (Alla prima) technique.
I contrived a built in swiveling view finder when making my home made plein air set up.

Thanks everyone for the encouragement

Barrie - I pretty much use the method you've laid out - but I sketch directly on the panel then scrub in the darks with a purplish mix.

I like the palette box and panel mast. The attached viewfinder is a neat idea. But I'd find lining it up with the scene to be a problem, due to limitations of the terrain - where you can set up relative to the scene .. and often wanting to "zoom in" rather than matching the field of view of your eyes.

I bought a massively overpriced plastic viewfinder.. but it has the aspect ratios marked off, grey reference, color isolator -- fits in your pocket and has proved to be very useful.

What I was trying to express was the difference in the freedoms a photographer has to compose a composition vs a painter. The painter being limited to where he can set up his easel and camp out for an hour +. So far the things I appreciate most about PA are being outdoors isolated from distractions and interruptions and forced to make in-the-moment decisions.
This is very good for an early experiment. I actually like the a la prima approach: heavy texture (you even used the sharp end of a brush to scratch!), good composition and color harmony. Good show!
Van Goghy in a very good way.