Plein Air Watercolor Tips and Tricks

When time is of the essence and access to supplies is limited, you must be prepared to make the most of what you have. Plein air watercolor painter Frank Costantino offers his best advice for how to handle just about any outdoor painting situation.

5 Tips From a Plein Air Painting Pro

No-fear plein air painting requires a little planning, a healthy dose of respect for nature and a keen sense of humor. With Brenda Boylan’s simple tips for painting en plein air, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and make the most of your experience.

Plein Air Paint Like a Boy Scout: Be Prepared!

Award-winning plein air painter Kathleen Dunphy knows a thing or two about maximizing her time in the field. Here, she shares four secrets to staying at the ready for whenever inspiration strikes.

Step-by-Step with Ken Karlic’s Sophisticated Chaos

Prolific artist Ken Karlic recently teamed up with Daniel Smith Watercolors to offer a comprehensive step-by-step look into his creative process. There’s lots to learn here.

Acrylic and Plein Air

Here are some more of my thoughts about the advantages of acrylic and plein air.

The “Point” (and History) of Quick Draw

Recent Paint the Peninsula Quick Draw winner and acclaimed painter Ned Mueller has some fascinating thoughts about the origins of this popular practice we think you’ll enjoy.

How Important is Contrast in a Painting’s Overall Design?

Today’s subject deals with the principle of contrast in the formulation of an effective design. So often, painting students are given a set of rules to live by and at the same time, not told why these so called “rules” exist.

Avoiding That ‘Cartoon Look’ in Your Paintings

The ideas presented here are reproduced from a paper I did for my painting class a few years back.

What Do Tertiary, Monochromatic, and Analogous Have in Common?

Because I’ve been painting so long, I use color intuitively. I just “feel” my color. I choose colors automatically and know which ones harmonize or contrast with each other depending on the effect I want. I have long since stored by paint-splattered color wheel deep in a drawer in my studio, ignoring the wealth of information hidden within it. I’m sure I learned all there was to know about color in high school or college, so what is the point?

Is Plein Air in Moonlight Possible?

Moonlight has fascinated artists for centuries. Writers have composed about its romance, artists have painted its mystery, musicians and composers have been moved to produce beautiful passages that evoke those ideas. But while moonlight has been depicted by many painters, it was often done from memory — out of necessity, because it’s hard to see and paint in the dark.

What Is Holding You Back in Your Quest to Become a Better Landscape Painter?

Probably the same thing that challenged my progress as an aspiring artist many years ago, and the same thing that holds a lot of art students back: preconceived notions about the painting process. That was the short answer. Now for the long answer. I am going to attempt to tackle that question in a circuitous route, but one that hopefully will connect with the reader.

Artists and Kids Paint Bryce Canyon National Park

I was recently invited to be a guest artist at Bryce Canyon National Park during the annual Geology Festival. It is the first time an artist has been invited to present at the event, which is sponsored by the Park Service and the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association. It was my hope that my visit might kick-start a permanent artist-in-residence program there. I think we may have succeeded.

Brushwork

Brushwork is the last of the five tools in the “Painters Toolbox of Expression,” and this tool deals with texture. Because textural technique is very personal to the individual artist, no one approach is considered to be correct. Like edges, special brushwork is not even necessary, but more an enhancement to a well-designed painting. It’s generally true that brushwork is rarely spoken of by art teachers, and therefore seldom taught, especially on the university level.

Packing with Pastels

Our hard-working sales superstar Tracey Norvell recently posed this question to prolific artist Jude Tolar: “Do you know of a great, light pochade box for pastel painters?” Tolar’s response was worth quoting in full.

Diving Into Plein Air

It’s hard for a lot of artists to “take the plunge” into full-time painting, let along taking up art in the first place. However, the story of Emilie Lee is about as extreme — and entertaining — as it gets.

Edge Control (For a more nuanced painting approach)

One of the tools in the “Artist’s Toolbox of Expression” is edge control. Think of edges and brushwork as icing on the cake, because they are not altogether necessary, but are enhancements to an otherwise well constructed painting.

Designing Your Paintings with Values (Along with some tips on scene selection)

Can anyone imagine doing a painting without using a number of values? Well, as an abstract design possibly, but it would be a weak design, depending solely on color for its strength. So strong are values in the painting process that the old adage is true that says: “In painting, values do all the work, but color takes all the credit.”

How to Mix Color and Get Good Harmony (Without the Frustration)

"When mixing colors for the landscape, artists need to be quick on their feet," says John Hughes. "Outdoors, where the light and shadows are in constant motion, it’s important to be able to mix a color intuitively."

Packing and Plein Air

For the very adventurous outdoor painter, room — and weight — are crucial things to consider when it comes to packing for plein air. PleinAir Today visited with artist Gary Geraths, who offered up some sage suggestions.

Drawing and Creativity (A Way to Prepare)

When it comes to painting, the act of drawing is often a departure from the classical linear concept that is understood by most people. Drawing, in the painting arena, has more to do with large compositional ideas and design elements, such as placement of objects or masses, linear movement, relative sizes of objects, weight distribution, and shapes.

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  1. PleinAir Podcast Episode 104: Jim McVicker on Painting Outdoors Since 1973 1:04:52