Plein air painting simply means painting on location, outside the studio. Such paintings are mostly landscapes, for obvious reason. Let’s get to know more about this method.
There are basically two environments in which any artist paints. Indoors, where light, wind and temperature can be controlled to a reasonable extent and outdoors where the elements dictate the weather conditions.
Producing a good painting is challenging even with all right conditions and all the time available in the studio. The level of challenge goes up when doing the same on location. Additional challenges in painting on location are:
1. Time is limited when painting on location
You can spend only a limited amount of time on location. You need rest, you need food and water and there is no cozy seating available there. Though you can return back to the same spot day after day to complete the painting, it is a rare possibility.
2. Weather conditions are not in control
The main thing that an artist needs to paint is good light on the subject and the canvas. Light changes every minute of the day but the painting needs to capture only a moment in time. After all, it is not a movie to show the passage of time. This shifting light makes it difficult for the artist to paint the light and correctly capture the color.
3. Distractions are more when you are painting on location
You can lock yourself up in your studio till you are painting is done but there is no such luxury on location. Spectators, onlookers and suggestion givers can create a lot of distractions to an artist.
Then there are other challenges such as bugs, wild animals, theft and so on.
However, there are also lots and lots of advantages of painting on location. Let us look at few of those.
1. The actual scene is a lot better than a photo. It’s in 3D
You can experience the place with all your senses. This gives more authenticity to the painting created there.
2. You learn to be quick
Due to limited time, you learn to be quick in making the decisions about your composition, colors to use and so on. You may not always come back with a good painting but you learn a lot faster.
3. You get all benefits of being out in open
If you love being outdoor, on location painting can be a good excuse to get out and feel the breeze. You can take lots of photos too which can be the source for your future paintings. Experiencing a place in person and looking at a photo clicked by someone else are two totally different things and that shows in the painting you do.
4. You get to meet people and develop friendships
Even if you are just a beginner, you’ll be looked upon by the spectators as an “artist” and that boosts your confidence. Painting, while others are watching you, takes courage and you should congratulate yourself for taking the courageous step.
Most of the times the onlookers are ready to help if you need anything. You also have a chance to make them fans of your art.
5. Learning from other artists
Though you can go and paint alone, painting on location with fellow artists is even more beneficial. You can go where you wouldn’t go alone, learn from each other, share experiences and learn to solve problems together. There is also a friendly competition that helps you in painting better.
I am not (yet) a frequent on location painter but want to be one. Want to join me?
Here are two photos from my recent on location painting.
Mandar Marathe- Painting on location