Plein Air questions for Draftsmen Podcast
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Stan Prokopenko
@Marshall Vandruff and I will be recording a podcast episode on the topic of Plein Air (painting outdoors). We'd like to hear from you before we record it. Post some questions, concerns, stories, anything related to Plein Air and we might talk about it in the podcast. Also, feel free to respond to each others' questions here. Thank you!
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Tagnen Josephs
How do you apply colour vibration/ colour variation, since no object has a stationary colour, correctly to plein air paintings?
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Doug Madill
Will there be any sort of plein air video to accompany the podcast?
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adri_art76
What are some good affordable easels to use for plein air?
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Charlene
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Hi Marshall and Stan, I forgot to mention this in my original post but I was also wondering if you had any tips for painting at night time and carrying wet paintings back. Is there a limit of paintings you do so you don't carry too many wet paintings back that's unmanageable?
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Doug Madill
I use a very bright book light to paint under, it's a clip-on for books, but it works fine if you keep it evenly lighting the canvas and palette relatively the same way, otherwise all kinds of value skewing in your painting will result if your palette illumination is different than the surface you paint on. I scout an area way before sunset and get a drawing established on my canvas before it gets too dark to fine tune areas. Let your eye adjust to the subtle dark tones in nature after looking at your bright workspace. As for painting transport, there are so many canvas clips with handles solutions you can buy over the internet for this very thing about carrying wet paintings home, otherwise just leave the painting on the easel clamp and carry it that way. HTH.
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Gino Datuin
I've seen people start plein air paintings, then after a certain amount of time when there have been too many changes in the environment, they work on it again in studio, from imagination or a reference photo they took at the site. What do artist typically change or look for when starting a plein air painting, then adjusting and finishing the painting later in the studio?
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Doug Madill
In the beginning, plein air artists want a good visual foundation to support the subsequent stages of the painting, usually a simple harmony of abstract shapes at first. A lot of conflict, surprise, and intuition, too, enters into the creation of the painting. If they take on new information in a scene that they haven't tried painting before, they might take risks during the act of painting to express what they see; they may not succeed at first. They may have a revelation afterwards and use the painting in the studio to experiment and learn from.
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Charlene
Hi Stan and Marshall! Thank you for doing an episode on this topic for the podcast. I used to travel and sketch with watercolours back when we could. At the moment I try to paint sunsets when I see a nice one since I know photos don't capture them well but with a sunset of course light changes quickly. I was wondering if you have any tips or tricks for capturing a sunset. I also have a pochade box with water soluble oil paint in it I'd like to take traveling internationally with me someday. Do you guys have any tips or information about taking oil paint or water soluble oil paint on a plane? Do you bring that in your hand luggage or do you have to check it in? Do you bring msds about dangerous goods and whatnot? Thank you so much for your help and thank you for running this show.
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Stan Prokopenko
I've done sunset painting several times and each time I had to paint extremely quick. 15-30 minutes until the light is totally different. So, when painting sunsets I end up doing 3-5 smaller thumbnails instead. Traveling with paint is tricky because at the airport any time they see 'paint' they will default to throwing it away. I've heard of some artists putting paint in a separate bag and labeling it "artists colors". Avoid using the word 'paint'. These might help: https://www.menorcapulsar.com/free-ebook/how-to-travel-with-oil-paints https://gamblincolors.com/tips-for-traveling-with-artists-materials/
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rajnesh kumar
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hi, what are some of the differences and challenges the artist have between outdoor and indoor? how to deal with people and not get them mess with the artist mind? i tried painting 3 times and i had extremely hard time mixing color, it went muddy to fast. the light kept changing and as i'm not proficient in mixing color fast i would be lost and didn't know what to do next. talk about the materials to carry.
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Doug Madill
I always try to be nice to people out on the street, they have as much a right to be there as you do. When I bring home a painting from outside, I always expect my indoor eye will detect areas I had trouble with and think back to that moment outside. We all hope for the best. Usually, when a light/dark value wasn't behaving as it should, chances are you painted everything within too narrow a value range. Color won't matter if the value is off. Slightly exaggerate your expression of the lightest light and the darkest dark when you're outside to give your painting more room for value expression.
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Stan Prokopenko
When I don't want to be bothered I wear over-ear headphones. People know I can't hear them, so they don't bother me. mixing colors - that's one of the biggest things I used plein air for.. Improving my understanding of color and mixing colors. It's very hard. You won't get it right immediately. Especially if you're not doing it with an instructor. Keep practicing. Read books on color and painting (two recommendations below), do studies of other people's plein air paintings, simplify, make sure to get values correct first then colors. You will get better slowly. Eventually you'll be awesome. Try to enjoy the adventure of plein air and the struggles will be more bearable. Alla Prima by Richard Schmid - https://amzn.to/3khxcUC Color and Light by James Gurney - https://amzn.to/3yWlbYy
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Stacy Gibson
I recently watched a show called "Landscape Artist of the Year" on youtube where the one of the plein air artists took a photo to help them remember the lighting and shadows of the scene they were painting, then continued to refer to both the photo and the live landscape as they painted, choosing what they liked from each. Hope that helps!?
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Jonah Sanders
Hey guys! When attempting Plein Air, I usually have a really hard time framing the scene. I find it difficult to distill down everything around me into such a small space. Any quick composition skills that might help me get started?
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Doug Madill
Cut out a rectangle window from an 8x10 piece of cardboard and see through that...? Ask yourself how much time do you have to get all the information you framed to a painted scene on your canvas. Talk to yourself about what you plan to do in the painting, why you like what you like, and how you will express that in paint. This may help organize your workflow when you have a clearer purpose outlined for the painting.
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claireh
What do you think are pros and cons to using watercolours/gouache, oils, acrylics, maybe even inks, when doing plein air paintings? There's no right or wrong and it's probably personal preference but I'm just curious as a beginner
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Doug Madill
Start very basic with new materials. Practice value studies with a warm/cool palette of a brown color and a blue color plus white. Water base paints are easier to work with in all aspects, very portable, and there's more room for experimentation and combination of media possible; oils require more careful setup and clean up.
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JemsPens
Whenever i try to paint outdoors i get bugs, dust, leaves and all that jazz flying into my painting, and if there is a wind or even a gentle breeze i find it hard to keep still. I'm in the UK so its not sunny much, and when it is i want to be in it. I try to compromise and do something else like sketching or something small outside, but if thats not what im focused on at that moment it doesnt come out right so i end the day thinking i shouldve just stayed inside doing what i am focused on despite the sun. I feel i have to sacrifice outdoors a little but to me it seems like a small sacrifice for my love for art. Not sure what my question is but i wondered what you guys thoughts were on this and have you ever had this problem!! Thankyou.
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Doug Madill
I would suggest to look up Pete the Street (Peter Brown). Brit painter on Instagram, maybe will motivate you to stay outside. I love his work. One thing I cannot wrap my brain around is how he is painting in the rain without mushing up his work!
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JemsPens
Also just want to say i love you guys podcast so much i found it at the perfect point in my life and i cant wait to keep listening. THANKYOU!!
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Kenneth Marc
I feel like I've been held back from really exploring plein air by the equipment. Doesn't hold things at the right height or angle, not enough space to efficiently carry my tools. Do you have any advice or recommendations to address this? Or, should I take the James Gurney route and make my own modifications to my setup?
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Stan Prokopenko
If you feel inspired by to make your own, then go for it. I don't like the wooden French easels much. I've used the strada easel and soltek. Both are great. I don't try to carry all my gear in the easel. Instead I have a small hiking backpack with all my stuff.
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Doug Madill
I paint mostly in the urban environment with acrylic paint on 9x12 panels. ACM panels are great to paint with, they're lightweight and durable. Oil paint is great but I like working in water based media because of my work flow and clean up. Two plein air artists come to mind when I'm on instagram: James Gurney, and Marc Dalessio. Viewing a gallery that exhibits plein air paintings here in NYC is rare, unknown to me. Grand Central Atelier held a plein air exhibit once in Long Island City a few years ago, and I was pumped. Are there published critics of contemporary plein air paintings? Until then, one might run into Jerry Saltz at a major art museum and he might dispense a few nuggets. In passing once, he said something about escaping the pathos of Hopper, which sounds right. Could plein air painting also be thought of as performance art? When is this segment airing? Thanks for thinking of plein air painting, I can't wait to hear this!
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Tiago Massey
I can't wait to listen to the podcast! 😄
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Diana Lee
I feel like I already learned a lot just reading this thread! Can’t wait for the podcast 👍
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Todd Mitchell
Asked for help
Are proportional dividers a crutch that will eventually hinder my learning? I pick two landmarks for datums, eg bottom and left edge, and use proportional dividers to map features onto my paper/canvas.
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Zoungy Kligge
Asked for help
When I paint plein air I find myself muddling around in middle values, trying to grasp and translate the light pattern right in front of me. Can you talk about ways to quickly launch yourself into a fairly accurate, overall value pattern so that you can get to the refinement stage sooner? Also do you think it would be interesting to compare and contrast the plein air vs urban sketching traditions? Thanks!
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Stan Prokopenko
I like to start with a thumbnail sketch with pencil in my sketchbook before jumping into the painting. I spend maybe 5 minutes on it to get the large shapes and values working. This gives me confidence when I start the layin on the canvas.
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stephdecuir
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Hi, I was really struggling with getring started, it seems like a lot to learn and as a beginner, with so much stuff and without an instructor how to know where to begging, is so confusing
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Stan Prokopenko
If you are new to painting I would not start with plein air painting. Start by setting up a SIMPLE still life at home. Try to increase your chances of a win as your starting. Paint a pear, banana, spoon, teacup... Painting is complicated. Start with something you can actually control at first and increase difficulty as you get comfortable with it.
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Kenneth Marc
Also, there's a great Vitual Plein Air group on facebook for those who are interested. They paint from MapCrunch and Google street views! https://www.facebook.com/groups/290155717818479
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Stan Prokopenko
lol, this is wonderful.
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Liam Godfrey
How long should you spend on a plein air oil painting in nature, given the changing of light and weather etc. Thanks!
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Stan Prokopenko
A normal session for me is 3 hours. Sometimes I will go for small quick sketches with 2x 90 minute paintings or 3x 60 minute paintings.
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Jacob Friis
What prefered medium do you use for plein air? Goache, Oil, watercolor or something else? Second question, do you look for something specific in the environment, to get a good plein air session?
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Stan Prokopenko
My preferred medium is oils. When selecting, I look for something that inspires me. Sometimes it can be a grand landscape or sometimes its a rock.. When I can see the finished painting before I start, it usually turns out better.
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