Help! I forgot How to Do Plein Air Painting!

Life happens and sometimes we just can't get out to do plein air painting as often as we would like. Artistic layoffs or droughts can happen due to health circumstances, family crises or a multitude of other reasons.

But something has happened to our hard won skill of getting our gear together, setting up our equipment and then, actually painting. We have become unaccustomed to all of it after the long plein air painting drought – we are rusty!

We can feel like beginners all over again. We may even feel we don’t know how to do this anymore and get discouraged. Be comforted and know that even the most seasoned and expert plein air artists feel this way from time to time.

It may even be a good thing. It keeps us humble and with a Beginners Mind.

Zen masters strive for this Beginners Mind in everything. It keeps us open to new ideas – eager to try fresh approaches and techniques.

Getting set in our ways as artists is a recipe for dull work and blunted creativity.

So let’s embrace the feeling of “I don’t knowness” and see where it takes us. A new mix of colors? A new canvas size or format? A different type of composition that is daring and unusual?

It’s all good, and part of the ever evolving journey as artists.

The more we get out there and paint, the more we love it. Build it into your weekly routine and make time for art. Here are some quick reminders to get you back into the swing of landscape painting again:

1. Get familiar with your gear again.

2. Paint Small!

3. Paint Faster - this will happen naturally as you paint small.

4. Separate your light and shadow areas - in fact, divide your color mixing palette into a shadow side and a light side - be clear which pile you are dipping into with each brushstroke.

5. Trust what you see out there - avoid formulas.


Here’s wishing all of us a good dose of Beginners Mind always.

Join us in the Monthly Painting Challenge and see where it takes you. We are all cheering you on and want to see your progress each month.

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