Fearless Plein-air Painter

En plein air is a french expression which literally means painting ‘in the open air’.  Summer is a perfect season to go out and paint from life.  One is challenged to capture the atmosphere and mood of places and  to re-create their impression on canvas. Except for several rainy days to spend a day painting outside in nature seems to be a great idea. However, dealing with obstacles such as bad weather, disturbing sounds or inquisitive and talkative passers-by can  make plein-air painting pretty tough and less idyllic. I have experienced both painting in crowded cities and undisturbed landscapes.

Painting in the city can be very exciting and challenging. Traffic, noises, naturally curious passers-by and bustle and hustle of a big city can turn painting into hard work.

St. Paul´s cathedral© 2013 Petra Terslova The St. Paul´s was painted from life in London in late summer. I spent a day painting on my knees in front of the cathedral. The sun was shining and sky was electric-blue. The whole scene with the cathedral rising majestically to the height seemed to me very dramatic.

St. Paul´s cathedral, Acrylic on canvas, ©  Petra Terslova 2013,  the St. Paul´s was painted from life in London in late summer. I spent a day painting on my knees in front of the cathedral. The sun was shining and sky was electric-blue. The whole scene with the cathedral rising majestically to the height seemed to me very dramatic.

Being outside in nature seems to be a little less demanding. Yet it´s worth thinking ahead and preparing for unexpected accidents or unwelcome visitors like spiders and other kinds of insect.

Lavenders field, Pastel, © Petra Terslova 2014

Lavender field, Pastel, © Petra Terslova 2014

A few useful tips for a fearless plein air painter:

  1. Don´t be sad if the weather is bad: an umbrella might come handy to protect you both from the sunshine and the rain. Don´t leave without a hat, a coat, gloves, insect repellent, sun cream etc.
  2. Write down tools which you´ll use: Think of all the necessary equipment such as paints, brushes, mediums, a bottle of water, canvases, papers, palette…brushes and consider taking a truck :).
  3. Be selective, be creative: Be prepared to make changes. You don´t have to  paint everything you see. Is that tree in a “wrong” place? Move it! Boring color? Change it!
  4. My camera´s rapid eye saves it all when I say “bye”: A camera hepls you to capture the scene.  The light changes quickly and shfoták (2)adows move so you have to work fast. If you don´t manage to finish the painting you can always finish it later in your studio.
  5. Pack a snack: Working long hours takes a lot of energy. Pack a light snack and a bottle of water to refresh yourself.
  6. With a friendly soul I´ll better reach my goal: Consider painting with a partner. Painting alone in remote places might be risky. Find a friend and tell at least three other people where you´re going and how much time you´re going to spend there. Painting with a companion can be an enjoyable experience, too!
  7. Practice makes perfect. Take it easy and don´t give up!

Feel free to extend the list!

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Visit my website:  petraterslova.com

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