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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > September 18 > How to paint en plein air

How to paint en plein air

In the final article in her current series, Amanda Hyatt urges you to just get out there and paint en plein air, and includes confidence-building tips and advice


To the uninitiated, plein-air painting simply means painting outside. This can be what amounts to an exercise in extreme sport, considering everything that may happen to you, including the ability to produce an excellent painting.

Where I live in Australia, painting outside often requires being alert to the presence of venomous snakes or spiders. It also often requires nucleargrade insect repellent, a sun hat that can reflect most outer solar system rays pounding down from above, sunblock as thick as putty and copious amounts of water. And that is just the beginning.

Take it in your stride

If the conditions are windy, the easel may have to be anchored with ropes or rocks in bags. If it is too hot, an umbrella to put up over the whole setup is vital. Different situations will arise in the northern hemisphere, including the more routine arrival of rain and overcast days. Also there will be interested onlookers who peer over your shoulder and ask why you are painting the red boat green and then proceed to tell you that they think it should remain red. But this is usually more rewarding than off-putting as most people are genuinely interested in what you are doing, and often ask where you teach so they can come along and learn how to paint.

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About The Artist

Be inspired to get out and about with your painting kit this summer with tips and advice on sketching and painting en plein air from top watercolour artists Amanda Hyatt, Geoff Hunt and Ian Sidaway. Jenny Wheatley shows how to use your location studies to create exciting compositions back at home, while in a the first of a new series Yael Maimon explains how to select the best format for a successful composition. Aldo Balding demonstrates how to paint a full-length portrait, Robert Brindley shows how to capture the spirit of Venice in watercolour, Barry Herniman reveals how to use acrylics the watercolour way. Plus we focus on the rules of painting, how to paint figures on the beach, learn from the painting style of Christopher Wood, how to choose the best colours for different skies, and how to cope with the challenge of working from poor photos. We've included plenty to inspire you this month, as well as information about what to see and do and competitions to enter with great prizes up for grabs!