Plein air for beginners

Laurel Daniel (featured in the art video workshops Oil Painting for Beginners and Outdoor Painting Basics) finds inspiration in the landscapes around her. Here she shares with us how she works through her process and shows us how she painted a new painting, “Flowers of the Field.”

Painting en Plein Air: “Flowers of the Field”

In general, I work dark to light, thin to thick, dry to juicy, and simple to complex. I find that sticking to these principles is the best way to get oil paint to do what I want it to do.

Below are process shots of “Flowers of the Field,” 12 x 16 in., oil on panel, plein air:

plein air sketches
Step 1

1. Placement: My start was a loose sketch for placement and composition.

Landscape block-in
Step 2

2. Block-In: Building on that initial sketch, I paid close attention to form and value. (That yellow stain is a placeholder for flowers that will come later.)

How to paint landscapes
Step 3

3. Uprights: Working dark to light, I painted the foreground uprights first. Then I moved to the distant uprights, muting them down to make them recede into the atmosphere.

Step 4

4. Ground plane and sky plane: Next, I added the ground plane and sky plane. Since value and color are relative, it’s important to constantly compare and adjust to make all the parts work.

How to paint landscapes
Step 5

5. Finish: Finishing the piece included muting the distant uprights even more and popping the highlights on the foreground elements. I always save those marks for the end so I can key them off what is happening in the rest of the painting.

Plein air for beginners

6. Here is a shot from my easel … parked ever so coolly in the shade!

Learn more about Laurel Daniel’s process by checking out her two videos, Oil Painting for Beginners and Outdoor Painting Basics.



Oil painting for beginners


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