Summer Plein Air, Painting Tips

Painting at Yashiro Japanese

Painting at Yashiro Japanese Garden

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Painting directly from nature is a great way to challenge yourself and to expand your observations skills. I have been hosting weekly Friday afternoon outings to various scenic locations in the Olympia area. I begin each 3-hour session with a one hour or so demonstration of watercolor painting. Some suggestions: 1) start with one or two preliminary composition sketches to connect with your surroundings and isolate an area of the landscape to paint. Use a viewfinder (an adjustable frame to look through) to help put a frame around your area of interest and eliminate some of the sometimes overwhelming amount of extraneous information you won’t be including. Keep your sketches loose and quick, including the value shapes you see since light outdoors has so much influence on composition. 2) once you have your composition, draw the major shapes of your composition with a fine brush using pale yellow paint. This hue is easy to paint over, so don’t worry about lines being imperfectly placed. 3) lay in some areas of light and dark but respond to changing light if it reveals a better color or shape by moving around the painting, keeping your appoach fresh.