Plein Air Art (otherwise known as painting outdoors)

Towan BeachSince leaving college (about 20 years ago) I’ve not done any outdoor art, but recently, it’s been on my mind to try it again. So, on a trip down to Cornwall, I did just that. You can see the result on my main site here Unfortunately, I only got to do 40 minutes before the rain drove me away, (I know, what a fair weather artist!) I then finished the piece back in the studio.

I’m pretty happy with the outcome, certainly happy enough to want to do it again, as I thought it changed the painting experience for the better. I feel my brain goes into a meditative state when I’m painting (if it’s going well!) and an article in the Huffington post, about how art improves the brain, makes for very interesting reading:

When I was outside, I felt the creative process was enhanced.
Rather than trying to understand a vision in my mind, or a photo, I was trying to understand a whole scene I was actually part of, trying to take it into me and really see it. All very deep, but does it make for better art?

Back in Hampshire, I decided to try it again, so early one morning I went to a beautiful place we know and set things up. This time, I had about 3 or 4 hours before I had to give up as I was shivering so much, I couldn’t hold my pen steady. My only excuse is that it was very cold.

I found the experience very similar, but even more positive, as I had longer doing it, and the light really was gorgeous. However, the piece I produced is a write off. As you can see from the photos below, the composition just isn’t right. So, no, the processes doesn’t necessarily make for better art, but will, I think, when I get the hang of it.

I guess I have a lot to learn about plein air art, my first lessons are:

Lesson 1: Take some time, consider your composition. Maybe do some sketches first, make sure what you’re going to produce is worth it.

Lesson 2: Take a warm drink!


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