If you’re new to painting at plein air events, check out this handy list of tips from Richie N. Vios.
10 Tips for Competing in Plein Air Events
By Richie N. Vios
1. Thoroughly read the competition criteria, especially the boundaries of where you’re allowed to paint.
2. Make the composition of your painting the utmost priority.
3. Be unique in choosing a subject to paint.
4. Make sure you have a frame to fit before starting a painting of any size.
5. Don’t chase moving shadows. Make a quick thumbnail sketch and stick with it.
6. Be prepared to encounter natural elements like rain, extreme heat, cold, or wind. And always keep bug spray handy.
7. Be mindful of how many hours per painting is allowed per the rules (typically, four hours at most).
8. If possible, scout the designated painting area before the competition starts.
9. Tell at least one person where you are going to paint.
10. Paint what you love, and always have fun while competing.
When competing in quick draw competitions, I necessarily simplify my subject. In “Opera House,” I drew only the facade of the iconic opera house. My center of interest lies in the lower left of my grid.
Since the facade is so symmetrical in design, I added proven tricks to draw the viewer’s eye to the focal area. The gap between the two varying forms of dark buildings in the foreground reveals figures and exposes the arched entrance to the opera.
Editor’s Note: During the exclusive video course, “Confident Watercolor,” Richie lays out the three core skills you need to confidently create watercolor paintings. These three core skills influence how you think, see, and execute before and during painting.