Plein air painting tips

plein air painting tips
Carol Husslein
Plan your locations before heading out to paint - maybe even spend a day scouting out locations and noting them. This will certainly save you time on riding around looking for an ideal spot to paint.

Check weather reports. You may have to paint out of your car or find a cozy awning or overhang to stand under.

Don’t paint alone - take a friend!

Prepare a plein air kit. Have a folding easel, folding chair, and a selection of art supplies easily accessible. Also bring water, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.

Consider the size of your painting. Small is more manageable and can be completed or near-completed during one outing.

Minimize your supplies. Consider how much weight you are going to have to carry, and then re-evaluate what you pack in your kit.

Use a disposable palette or wax paper for covering your palette.

Try to pick a good spot with shade from the sun and protection from the wind. You can even paint plein air in your own backyard, which may actually be a good place to begin, if this is your first time.

Don’t paint everything in the composition. Sometimes there may be things that seem like they do not belong. Have a central focus to the scene, and discard extraneous objects. Try to focus on what is in front of you rather than what you imagine.

The painting does not have to be completed outdoors. If you feel more comfortable in a studio without the distractions, feel free to finish it there. This certainly opens up the possibility of creating several plein air studies and finishing them while in your studio.

If you decide to further work on the painting in your studio, take several photographs for reference.

Click here for details on our plein air painting days - join us!

Thanks to CAA member and past president, Carol Husslein for these valuable tips! Some of this information was also xcerpted from