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5 tips to better Plein air painting

Observing from nature is a way to grow as a painter. 

Here are five ways to improve your plein air paintings:

1) Simplify your composition.

2) Tie your dark shapes together.

3) Be selective. The more you use of a color, the less impact it has.

4) Start with a thumbnail value study that shows how you want the viewers’ eye to travel through your painting.

5) Don’t use the sky as a backdrop.

Need more Plein air painting tips? Join us on a Plein air painting session! Contact us for our next free session.

Where do ideas come from?

Ideas are everywhere. I have been listening to the Beetles channel on the radio. What I love about their music is that it is about their life and times with universal themes just as relevant today as it was last century.

They could write a song about anything and make it successful. But they also had songs that were not so great.

Artists have the same problem. Ideas can come from any aspect of their daily life and be wildly successful or an epic failure. Once you choose an idea, solving your painting problems is part of the process of creating art. Choosing an idea to represent is the first step.

There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a blank canvas not knowing where to start. A composition view finder can help by focusing your attention and eliminating the beginner’s mistake of trying to include too much detail.

Painting from life is the best way to capture the light and get a fresh representation of your subject matter. Painting solely from photographs is not ideal, but can help provide reference in a pinch. Small Plein air paintings can provide the information you need to create larger studio paintings.

Advanced painting problems are only limited by your imagination. Are you drawn to the color, complexity, or simplicity of a place? Do you choose to animate your paintings with people or focus only on wild places? How do you find ideas to create a composition?