Review setting up for a plein air day
-How to select pastels
-Easels, tables and seating
Selecting a scene
-Grand or close-cropped scale
Preparing your easel
-Turn easel slightly so that you can see your painting, and then the subject without much head movement
-Sitting or standing
-Not in glaring sun
-Not in dappled shade. Find even lighting on your work and pastels.
Beginning the painting
-Decide on a scene, using your viewfinder
-Take a picture of your scene
-Thumbnail values sketch
-If you are using white or very light paper, tone it.
-Sketch in the basic elements of the scene, referring to your viewfinder
-Remember to check your colors against the scene, often
-Keep your eye on the scene every few seconds
-Drink water :-)
-Work dark, to medium, to light, to highlights
-Work soft touch to heavier touch
-Work broad strokes, to medium, to details
-If lighting begins to change, take another picture, and do this throughout if things change dramatically
-Work on getting basic shapes and color families in first. Keep it loose.
-Details are at the end, or even can be added later in your studio
Plein Air Materials list:
-Plein Air easel
-Stool or chair, if you will need to sit
-A place to set your pastels (Some pastel boxes mount to a tripod, or have a place to set the pastel box. Otherwise, you will need a lightweight, portable table.)
-Sun hat or umbrella that clamps onto the easel or chair
-Water to drink
-Baby wipes and hand towels
-A scaled down assortment of pastels.
(though you might want to leave your larger supply in the car, just in case)
-pastel paper and means to take the completed work home safely (glassine and large plastic bag if weather is questionable)
-2 to 3 stiff-bristled paint brushes, 1/2”-1”
-little jar of alcohol for wet underpainting
-artists’ or blue painters’ tape
-foam core board
Plein air painting is a time to learn to paint faster, looser, and be less concerned about little details. Focus on values, color families, and interesting mark-making. Experience the true colors, values and depth in nature, not effected by photography. Make mental notes of the things you notice, and take them back with you, to improve your studio work. Have fun!