Painting outdoors -

Learn simple ways to increase your competency and skillfulness for painting outdoors: A guest blog post from Garin Baker (featured in Intuitive Figure Painting).

Painting Outdoors and Getting Back to Basics


I basically have the simplest of tools since the impetus for painting outdoors, for me, has always been about paring down to the basics. The idea of taking all of my art studio into the open air seemed daunting.

Initially and still to this day, what I try to bring to my process is the most liberating and least pressurized methods of experimentation, learning and filling my senses with what it means to discover light. As fleeting and spontaneous as that can be, how does one capture it? Bottle it and I suppose remember it as future reference to use back in the studio. The camera always seems to synthesize it down, eliminating the pure energy and visceral experience I had when I was out there; back in the studio I’m completely unmoved by the images on my digital recorder.

Painting outdoors - "Moonrise Over Maine" by Garin Baker
“Moonrise Over Maine” by Garin Baker

From my early days, I was mentored by a wonderful teacher named Irwin Greenburgh, who encouraged us as teenagers to venture out if we really wanted our work to feel like it had authenticity and a sense of real light. It was never about subject matter, style, and technique, or for that matter, finished paintings. It was all about the energy of doing it – capturing those fleeting moments of a sun drenched landscape or the neon lights of the city bouncing and reflecting off objects as they moved and passed us by.

The only way to be open to these miracles is to move quickly and not concern yourself with always getting it right or even having your ultimate results recognized as a specific subject that you’re trying to paint. When painting outdoors, abstraction and intuitive response is the key, an almost reckless abandonment of the literal, always garners the best results.

Respond with a child’s eyes and record with paint the colors and vibrations of light as it’s moving, mix colors and apply, clean your brush, mix new colors and apply. Place your strokes in whatever order or randomness that you’re compelled to and move from one area of the surface to the next. No judgement or evaluation! If it doesn’t look right, keep going until the light has moved on and then, do another, and another….and another!

Painting outdoors - "Crystal Cove" by Garin Baker
“Crystal Cove” by Garin Baker

The simple act of doing it will over time increase your competency and skillfulness for painting outdoors. Drawing straight lines, outlining objects or making it look like what you are seeing is as far from the objective or results one should be after.

This post is sponsored by the PaintTube.TV workshop “Intuitive Figure Painting” (over 5 hours of instruction!) >

Garin Baker will lead you beyond the surface, through the tactical skills, and even deeper into the mindset you must have in order to be successful.

Preview “Intuitive Figure Painting” here:

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