Do you love art? Have you been advised to try out ‘plein air’ painting? Well, don’t feel intimidated by this fancy term. Plein air means good ol’ painting ‘in the open air’, an expression derived from French. The word comes from painting outdoors, which served as inspiration for many French impressionist paintings, for example, the famous ‘Water Lilies’ by Monet.
If you want to leave the four walls of your home and paint outdoors among the fresh, clean air and a pocketful of sunshine, plein air may be just the thing for you!
You don’t need to be a professional to be a plein air painter. All you require is a brush, some portable watercolor, your sheets, and the beautiful outdoors and you can paint on the go. Once you decide what you want to paint, you’ll find that plein air painting is simple, fun, and liberating.
Plein air painting is all about being in the moment. Plein air encapsulates the idea of capturing the light and how it makes you feel in the here and now. When attempting this style of painting on the go, refrain from little details and structured lines. The key thing to remember is to let loose and have fun!
Here are some easy plein air tips to get started:
1. Practice makes perfect
Portable art supplies make art on the go possible, but you should practice setting up before you go out for the first time. You don’t want to drop your apparatus or waste precious light in setting up your easel, sheet, and paints. Study some watercolor paintings before you make your trip to understand the composition and use of color.
2. It’s all about the light!
The best part about painting without an art studio - access to a diverse range of lines and shapes, thanks to light! Light is playful and makes a big difference to your painting. Consider the changes in weather and sunlight during your painting session. Choose your angle, trust your instinct, and work quickly before the angle changes. It’s a good idea to make small sketches first and then fill in your sheet with paint.
3. Groups make it fun
Plein air painting is not necessarily a solo activity. Painting in nature can be achieved in groups or with an art class. Imagine yourself and a bunch of art lovers heading out to paint the view outside a cafe. You might all look at the same scene, but each artist’s sheet would tell a different story focusing on different areas—a tree, a flower, or sunlight falling on an object. Joining a group of traveling artists can truly show you each one’s perspective, something even a photograph cannot capture.
4. Take it easy
It isn’t possible to capture every single thing you see when you are painting outdoors. Take time to walk around, explore the area, and see what catches your attention. Zoom in on your subject matter, study it, and let your art do the talking. Your plein air watercolor painting could be all about the way the light falls on some petals, or the bruising on fruit because of birds pecking at it, or the ripples left behind after a leaf falls in the water.
5. Comfort first
Plein air painting is exciting and adventurous. Make sure you are comfortable so that you genuinely enjoy the experience. Wear sunscreen and dress in your most comfortable clothes. It’s also a good idea to carry your favorite chair or stool along on your plein air expedition. Painting outside the studio means you won’t have access to all your painting tools, so remember to travel light and only carry what you need.
Let your plein air painting adventure begin!
Painting on the go is now easier as you can get portable painting kits and art supplies, enabling you to paint anytime and anywhere. We recommend you keep a set of Viviva Colorsheets in your backpack and whip them out anytime a view catches your fancy. Light, portable, and excellent in quality, these sheets also come as lovely gift sets you can get your name inscribed on for a more personal touch. Available in a variety of sets, these sheets are a perfect companion on your outdoor adventures.
Learn more about Viviva's safe, natural, 100% vegan color sets (but don't forget to snag your promo code first!)