Just idle chat
The joy of painting outside

Plein air in plain air!

07/03/2017
The vast majority of my artwork is created or finished indoors, usually in my studio at home. But, as the winter is replaced by spring there is nothing better than spending a few hours outside - especially in a group of like-minded artists. Some artists prefer being within a group as it gives them a bit more confidence and they can "hide" if need be from the passing public. I don't mind people coming up to see what I'm doing ... you can always argue that you've just started, or it's just a sketch, or it's an off-day! In fact, the vast majority of passers-by are complimentary or say nothing. Even the odd bit of criticism is worth hearing.
However, the real value of plein air painting, is to experience the real colours of our outdoors, in sun or on an overcast day, rather than always working from photographs under a "daylight" bulb. And having all that world outside the edges of your board or canvas forces you to really concentrate on your chosen composition - which is why preliminary sketches are always worth doing. Sketching will determine what is worth keeping in and left out. They will also reinforce whatever drew you to that position in the first place.
In this painting, I was drawn to a combination of the pathway, shadowed by the main tree and the emerging flowers lit by the morning sunlight. I worked for a maximum of two hours including a couple of pencil sketches. This is an area called Highdown Gardens, created from an old chalk pit, on the edge of the South Downs. Get there if you can ... and take draw or paint to your heart's delight!