Plein Air Painting for Beginners

Plein Air for Beginners > Painting outdoors might seem overwhelming at first, but there’s no need to fear venturing outside to paint en plein air! This is the largest art movement in history, and there are thousands of artists just like you who are taking their supplies into nature to paint stunning landscapes.

In the following articles, learn about making preliminary sketches, the best easels for plein air artists, how to paint trees, and more. If you’re new to painting outdoors with watercolor, pastel, oil, or acrylic, start here with advice from seasoned plein air artists.

You’ll even find step-by-step painting demonstrations, tips for color mixing, and the most common mistakes plein air painters make.

Browse the articles below, and sign up for the free Plein Air Today newsletter here so you’ll have even more tips coming directly to your inbox!

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1. Plein Air Painting and the Need for Speed

Do you feel pressured to paint faster when en plein air? If you’re tempted to practice the “smash and grab” technique, you might want to think twice. Here’s why.

2. Just Do the Preliminary Sketch – and 25 Other Painting Aha Moments

Do you remember the first time a painting concept clicked for you? For these Dreamliners (a grassroots group inspired by the live daily airing of Streamline Art Videos by Eric Rhoads, publisher, during the 70+ days of COVID19 stay at home orders), the big “aha” moment came during plein air workshops, painting travels, and even at recent Streamline events such as Plein Air Live, the world’s first online art conference.

3. Architectural Subjects: To Paint or Draw?

When this artist approaches architectural subjects in the landscape, certain factors determine if the resulting art will be a drawing or a painting. See why…

4. Four-Step Plein Air Oil Painting Demonstration

Anthony Salvo (b. 1959) shares a step-by-step plein air oil painting demonstration, explaining the four basic stages for creating a landscape.

5. The Best Plein Air Easels for Artists

What’s the best easel for plein air painting? We asked, and you answered! Dozens of artists share what their favorite plein air easels (including some DIY versions!) are, including why they’re top choice.

6. Six Keys to Painting Trees with Character and Dimension

How to Paint Trees in a Landscape Painting > To avoid trees that look generic or pasted on, follow these tips for painting compelling contours, varied sky holes, and details at a range of distances.

7. The 10 Most Common Mistakes Painters Make

Tackle these common issues to start making better paintings sooner rather than later with this painting advice from John Cosby.

8. FREE: The Ultimate Plein Air 101 Guide for Artists

If you’re an artist, chances are you’ve already practiced plein air painting and maybe don’t even realize it! Some artists paint en plein air for years before realizing they’re part of the world’s largest art movement.

9. Color Corner: 10 Artists Share What’s on Their Palette

We asked some of your favorite plein air artists about their palettes and what colors — and brands — they use to create stunning landscapes. Some use a limited palette and some go all out with variety, but all show an impressive use of color. Be inspired!

10. Seven Things to Consider When Painting a Landscape Outdoors

Plein Air for Beginners > Painting outdoors gives you so many options! Get insider notes from Carrie Curran’s advice on “Plein Air Basics,” which took place at an earlier Plein Air Convention and Expo (PACE).

11. The Visual Tools You Need to Create Atmospheric Perspective

Master these atmospheric perspective elements to give your paintings a powerful sense of depth.

12. Getting Started in the Field

New to painting en plein air? You’ll enjoy these tips from Tamera Menard Ovall’s new book for artists, “Plein Air Painting Tips and Tales: Memoirs of a Michigan Plein Air Painter.”

The next time you venture to paint en plein air, tag us on Instagram @pleinairmag! We’d love to see what you’re up to!