View Full Version : First attempt at plein air approaching..any tips?

06-27-2010, 03:48 PM
I'm going on vacation soon, to the mountains of PA, Eagles Mere to be exact (if there's anyone from PA out there) Anyway, my husband will fish and I usually just hang out and read a book but he suggested I take my pastels and paint while he fishes. So we rigged up an easel, it was going to start out as one of those cigar box pochade boxes but somehow evolved into something else. So I'm looking for some helpful hints. I've never tried this in the great outdoors and have gotten VERY lazy with drawing. I think I'll be able to take a good selection of colors. So any helpful tips would be appreciated.

06-27-2010, 04:01 PM
Wow, Marcia! Eagles Mere is supposed to be pretty neat. Lucky you!!

Here are a few threads that might help:
-- Pastel plein air?help tips hints and ideas how to paint outdoors? (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=513878)
-- Plein Air - Best Practices for Setup? (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=422309)

And from McKinley:
-- Plein Air Tips, Part 1 (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2010/04/12/PleinAirTipsPart1.aspx)
-- Plein Air Tips, Part 2: Sun Vs. Shade (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2010/04/19/PleinAirTipsPart2SunVsShade.aspx)
-- Plein Air Tips, Part 3 (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2010/04/26/PleinAirTipsPart3.aspx)
-- The Perfect Pastel Plein Air Setup: The Search Continues (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2009/12/07/ThePerfectPastelPleinAirSetupTheSearchContinues.aspx)
-- Plein Air Positioning (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2009/06/22/PleinAirPositioning.aspx)
-- Downsizing a Palette for Travel (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2008/08/11/DownsizingAPaletteForTravel.aspx)
-- What is your setup for painting en plein air with pastels? (http://pastelpointersblog.artistsnetwork.com/2007/09/10/WhatIsYourSetupForPaintingEnPleinAirWithPastels.aspx)

That's probably TOO much. Sorry, Marcia! I got carried away. [sigh]


06-27-2010, 06:11 PM
Pack your patience, a sense-of-humor, and water to drink in between.

Jan's links are the best bet as well.


06-27-2010, 07:53 PM
Thanks Jan & Barb. The links were great. I had to laugh though at Richard McKinnleys pastels he uses for plein air. It actually looked like my entire collection and I was not thinking of taking them all. May have to rethink that now.
I'll take your advice Barb and think I'll take a book along just incase!

06-28-2010, 09:43 AM
I had to laugh though at Richard McKinnleys pastels he uses for plein air. It actually looked like my entire collection and I was not thinking of taking them all. May have to rethink that now.
Ha! You're right! On the other hand, if you want to go the minimalist route, check out Casey Klahn's "Six Unisons" plein air kit (http://pastelsblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/pastels-go-in.html). Now, there's a good challenge!

(I love his opening line: "What I am about to reveal will change your plein-air life forever.")


the drover's dog
06-28-2010, 10:19 AM
This thread stirred me into following links and googling this and that to see what things cost. During my cyber travels I discovered this (http://palletteersofstcroix.blogspot.com/2009/06/palletteers-plein-air-gear.html) delightful Blog posting.

They are not using pastels, but it is a bit of a wakeup call about not being too precious about our plein air setups.



06-28-2010, 11:36 AM
That is a great find! I'd love a wonderful group like that nearby. Goes to show how fluid supplies and set ups are. I have a different one for each medium. The best ones are great for storage inside, too.

06-28-2010, 01:36 PM
Find one story to tell in your piece and use what's in front of you to tell that story,

Deborah Secor
06-28-2010, 03:42 PM
I suggest taking some 'corners' (L-shaped cardboard or mat boards), clipped together so you can vary the format to the shape of the paper you have. This way you can limit what you paint. Pick one predictable spot to return one corner to in the scene, and look at the scene with one eye closed in order to capture the big shapes on your paper.

For instance, find a rock on the ground and hold your corners up at arm's length, with perhaps the lower left hand corner on the top of that rock. Close one eye and see where the horizon line or the top of the hill or the edge of the tree crosses (whatever) the edges of the corners on the left and on the right. Make a line with charcoal or a pencil that crosses the edge of your paper in the same place. Do that repeatedly, returning your viewfinder to the same location, until you have all the major shapes in place.

Then squint through it and find the darkest dark shapes (which may not be the big shapes, but could be inside them), and place them in the drawing on your paper. Then do the same thing with the mediums. Then start the color.

I do this with my students when they first go out on location and it seems to help a lot.

I also advise them to forget trying to make a perfect painting and use this as a chance to make a good color sketch, exploring the place you see, as well as taking photos. Then they can take the photos and their sketches into the studio later to make a painting using both.

Hope you have fun!

06-28-2010, 05:14 PM
One good thing to bring is some lightweight pice of fabric (half of an old sheet, or something), as when a pastel is dropped it takes forever to find it in the grass.


06-28-2010, 10:34 PM
Thanks everyone for the tips and the links. I got a kick out of the group and all their different setups. I think I'd fit in nicely with that group. Lol.

Most of my painting will take place on a dock I hope. Of course we have to get there first and claim it. Hopefully it won't be too breezy.

I think I'll need to take more than 6 pastels. I'll need at least 6 different shades of green alone. Very green this time of year. I'd like to see a demonstration of a lake scene with those 6 colors. I'm sure it can be done but I'm not that adventurous.

I'll probably make up some corners because I think that will help alot. Hopefully when I come back I'll have something that isn't too much of an embarrassment to post. I'm thinking positive!

Paula Ford
06-29-2010, 12:22 AM
Remember the bug spray!!!

06-29-2010, 08:33 AM
Thanks Paula...wasn't buggy last year so hoping this year is the same. But a can couldn't hurt.

06-30-2010, 03:15 PM
And a good hat with a large brim and sunscreen! Water reflects so protect your skin!:D Have FUN!

06-30-2010, 03:32 PM
Just yesterday I saw at Bed Bath and Beyond Citronella bracelets. you can put them on your ankles too, it lasts for 72 hours. They were $1.99 each.

06-30-2010, 09:55 PM
Hmmm...I have a gift card for BB&B. Might have to spend some it before I leave.

07-08-2010, 02:09 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Jul-2010/130483-100_0617a.JPGWell so far it's been so stinking hot that I haven't painted much. 2 days VERY early in the morning has been it. But this is my setup and my first attempt at plein air on the easel.

07-08-2010, 07:50 PM
You've got a great start, so keep it up. I must say that I LOVE a well-placed bench or picnic table!