View Full Version : en plein air effort today

05-25-2015, 11:03 AM
12x8" Galeria Acrylics. Tried painting en plein air of the neighbor's (and our's) house. The acrylics were drying WAY too fast. The paints on the palette were scabbing. Constantly have to spray the palette and the substrate. Very frustrating. Started to rain at beginning.

05-25-2015, 12:13 PM
George, I like your sweeping directional strokes on the buildings, esp. the yellow/brown one. Is the white building stucco? The strokes suggest that. And the diagonal, sketchy-type strokes for the trees and sky are a great compliment. Lots of movement, and although it's a still subject, it looks like there is a lot going on. What's the blue item in front of the yellow house? A beach chair?

Acrylics in plein air has its own set of frustrating difficulties. I haven't even had the courage to attempt it yet! So I admire you for tackling it. What you describe sounds like a familiar scenario, painting outside with acrylics.

Some of the strokes almost look like pastel. I think the past progress you've made in pastels is really showing, in your present work in acrylics. A way to pull together a composition, efficiently and quickly.


05-25-2015, 12:30 PM
Cathy, the pastel-looking areas are where the paint had gummed up on the brush. I had a really hard time mixing colors. So much easier to just pick them from the pastels, but I am burned out on the pastels.

That blue thing is supposed to be the piece of gray metal sheeting missing from the house. I couldn't figure out to make gray (back to the books!), so I just went for ANY color that wasn't gummed up on the palette.

Spraying the palette and the board just made soup.

05-25-2015, 10:33 PM
I think you have done quite well with this. The combination of houses is interesting, and that red roof really pops against the trees.

I love painting plein air. Not sure why as I am often frustrated with the result. But I like being outdoors in a nice spot and just seeing what happens. The light is always so interesting outside.

05-25-2015, 10:42 PM
That's odd, I'd think the humidity in Kentucky would be high enough to make the paints more workable. I know in my case there are two things that can make painting plein air with acrylics impossible or nearly so. #1. Wind. Even a stiff breeze will suck the moisture right out of the paint, even if it's not hot. #2. Direct sunlight on the palette. I don't worry about keeping the paint workable on the board or canvas, it simply won't. It's more important to keep your palette out of the sun, mix fast, mix thick and apply the paint thick so it doesn't catch as easy on previous layers. There is a point, like you mentioned where the paint isn't wet but not quite dry either, you don't want to touch it when it's in that state or if will make a gummed up mess, but if your application of paint on top of it is thick and you apply it gently it won't be a problem.

05-26-2015, 03:01 AM
David, that makes me wonder whether I just didn't have enough paint. I could feel the substrate (mdf gessoed about 5 times but not sanded) really pulling at the brush at times.

Part of the substrate was lit up by the sun. The paint was drying very fast. Even misting the palette and the substrate wasn't helping. I had intentions of getting out there, mixing my colors, blocking in and then poof.....it went downhill real fast. :)

Still I had a lot of fun, it felt like that was where I was supposed to be .... fighting nature and its elements, and not sitting in front of a lamp looking at yet another boring still life. I am going to try this again.

05-26-2015, 08:31 AM
I think the unsanded gesso is part of the problem. The first layer of gesso raises fuzz on the surface of the MDF and the fuzz creates a huge drag on the brush.

Once the layer of paint gets thicker than the depth of the fuzz the problem goes away.

Winter air is pretty dry here and I have heating vents to contend with as well. I use a tray instead of a flat palette and do everything I can think of to humidify the air in that tray. Put wet paper towels around the edge.

Use a spray bottle that puts out a fine mist. Direct your spray over the palette, not at it.

Use a drying retarder or an open paint. Golden makes some as does Atelier.

05-26-2015, 09:17 AM
I use Ampersand Gessobord panels and the surface isn't quite as absorbent as the surfaces I used to make myself, but still I put down a layer of paint with glazing medium to seal the board for subsequent layers of paint. I use the glazing medium, (gloss medium will work as well.) so it starts out as a tone and I gradually build that tone up in layers. The first layer seals the gesso so it's not so absorbent and so subsequent layers don't dry quite as fast. The medium will slow drying a bit as well but not enough to make an meaningful difference.
Like Cliff says, you need an atomizer, not a sprayer. I regular pull trigger type sprayer will put out droplets, you don't want that. A pump type atomizer will put out a fine mist that works much better for keeping your paint piles workable without creating puddles of water on your palette.

Jon Bradley
05-26-2015, 05:47 PM
Did you use a wet palette or tackle box? I don't leave home without one!

Nice work.

05-26-2015, 09:47 PM
I used the free wooden palette that came with the easel I bought from Blick 3 years ago. The palette already had oil paint scabs on it that I couldn't scrape off without the wood splintering.

05-27-2015, 01:38 AM
I just use a plastic palette. I used to use a sta-wet palette and decided it was more trouble than it was worth. If there was any breeze at all the paper would dry out and paint would dry on it and it would be ruined and the paint blobs still skinned over. I even stopped using a sta-wet palette in the studio, I use the box but just have a piece of glass in the bottom of it. I've used the studio palette to paint plein air too in conjunction with an easel butler but it's kinda bulky to carry around, plus I haven't figured out a way to secure it to the easel, I'm afraid if some wind comes up it my blow it off. Here's a photo of my setup using the plastic oval palette.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-May-2015/201970-acrylic_plein_air_setup.jpg