Plein air painting – Time to Stand and Stare……

‘What is this life if,  full of care,  We have no time to stand and stare.    No time to stand beneath the boughs  And stare as long as sheep or cows…….’     from the poem ‘Leisure’ – by William Henry Davies. 

Plein Air painting affords us the opportunity to stand and stare.     As we observe the ever changing light, we become present to the sights,  sounds and smells that surround us.    After a while we become one with our subject and with that comes a sense of wellbeing.

Kent landscape – watercolour/gouache P1140440This post is to encourage those who might feel a little nervous of painting in public, to throw caution to the wind, and give it a go……..

Some tips:

1) Travel light.  –  A small sketch pad, one brush, sketching pen, a plastic cup for found water….i.e. river, stream, puddle, pub…..(Unless you are in the desert water is usually easy to find)

2)  A limited palette. –  I take seven colours….and could easily cut down to four.

2)   Some people prefer a sketching stool….I look for steps, walls, benches, rocks….

3)    Sun hat – (sunglasses distort colour)

4)    snack and water to drink.

5)    Optional – a camera to use as reference for future studio work.

Note that in this photograph I have found a table….(I was staying with good friends in Wales)    Also note the plastic bag on the table.    Normally for cosmetics it’s compact, has a zip and a handle, and makes for finding a brush or a tube of paint quick and easy.     Perfect for plein air sketching.

Overlooking the Usk Valley where the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons National Park meet…..20160824_121557One of the watercolours I painted during that visit.   I plan to return again this year and do many more sketches there. 20-11-15 - 1 (267)It’s important to remember that when painting outside technique comes second to observing the essence of the subject.    The aim is to capture a sense of place…rather than every detail.

In this quick felt tip pen and watercolour sketch from Mas Cabardes S. W. France….I picked the essential components of the scene….capturing an idea of place.   20-11-15 - 1 (250)When I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache sketch, I was on the edge of a 4,000 ft cliff overlooking the white village of Zuheros, Andalucia, Spain,  with forests and olive groves going off into the distance.    It was very windy, and numerous lion eagles were flying overhead.   An extremely exhilarating moment.

It is all too easy to be overwhelmed with the visual feast set before you, and so again the key is to pick the essential components.   In this instance, I used blocks of colour…rather than any detail. 20-11-15 - 1 (36)From a pocket sized sketch book – Fishing boats on Armona Island, Portugal…..20-11-15 - 1 (63)

I remember this vividly.   I was in Portugal and the sun was setting over the hills….and I needed to capture the moment…and so again there is no detail whatsoever – just my feeling of what was happening.   watercolour. 11722205_10153408010935396_6808764412248363582_oI sketched this on a boat in Kinsale Harbour, County Cork Ireland.…and the colours were just like this…..Often when working in sketchbooks,  I join up the pages as you can see here. 10842265_10153035398130396_9042918393838052530_oAnother very happy moment.   I was with my dear friends Mariethe Salort (artist) and Bonnie Halsey Dutton (artist).    We were celebrating July 4th that day and sketched this village – Courrier-sur-Sein – not too far from Paris……watercolour/gouache.    I remember there were lots of little  boys who wanted to get in on the action. 🙂11834711_10153477485855396_4950983751547778998_oFrom a pocket sized sketch book off the coast of Akyaka, Turkey.     watercolour. 20-11-15 - 1 (768)

This final piece was painted in Monet’s Garden at Giverney.    My friend Mariethe Salort had arranged that we could paint in the gardens when all the visitors had gone.   It was such a wonderful summer’s evening and one I will never forget.     watercolour/gouache 10917160_10153020589015396_3953042147092516531_o-2

If you have not done anything like this before and are nervous to go it alone….there are groups you can join….or art associations that organise days of plein air painting for all levels, including beginners.     I can not recommend it enough…..

Of course I always surround myself with magical hummingbirds no matter where I am in the world…..and every now and then I am in places where they are the subject.   watercolour

p1170342

Happy sketching…..

A Bientôt

 

69 thoughts on “Plein air painting – Time to Stand and Stare……

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear Miza…..I have been thinking about you and as I will be in Portugal a week before my course…I arrive on the 12th…wondered if you would be there at the same time. I will pm you FB. I am so looking forward to being at the School…and in wonderful Olhao, and yes this time around I plan to do a lot of plein air work before the course begins and then with the participants. Have a fantastic day..and thank you very much. Janet .:) xx

      Reply
  1. rlseaton

    Your artwork is so beautiful, and so very cheerful! I love your ideas, and they inspire me to give it a try. I used to sketch so much more when I was younger, and do it so little now. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you very much for your comment. Oh yes, please do pull out any sketching stuff you have at hand, and give it a go. I think it’s one of the more rewarding things to do in life and at the same time all the senses are fed in a way that can never happen when we relegate ourselves to the indoors!:) Janet.

      Reply
  2. Timothy Price

    Wow! I love these paintings. My wife takes a sketchbook and water colors into the field . Doing small watercolors in the field is really practical.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Timothy…thank you so much for your comment. Yes, a tiny sketchbook is all that’s needed. If we take too much stuff we sabotage ourselves…I am quite sure you wife would agree with that. Hope you enjoy a lovely day Janet 🙂

      Reply
  3. Writing to Freedom

    I love this collection of paintings Janet! I can relate to wanting to capture a feeling of a place. That is how and why I started photographing years ago when I was traveling to our wonderful US National Parks. Would you consider letting me use an image from this series to create a poem? I would credit you and link to your website.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Brad and thank you very much for your lovely comment. I have been in some of the magnificent US national Parks…In essence one could live and die in one and never ever be short of inspiration. It would be my great pleasure for you to create a poem to go with one of these paintings…..Yes please – I would consider it a great honour. Hope you enjoy a lovely and creative day and weekend ahead. Janet 🙂

      Reply
  4. Timi Townsend

    Gorgeous! I will always remember the summer that I, as a precocious 12 year-old artist, was invited to join a bunch of high school art majors in weekly private outings with the head art teacher from their school, along with one other “youngster.” (Of course, looking back, everyone, including Mr. Mac, the teacher, was so very young!) It was a magical summer, piling in together into an old VW van and riding off through the back roads and fields surrounding our rural county town. The beauty of those days and the camaraderie of doing art together under the sky are experiences I will never forget…. Thanks for reminding me of them, Janet! ❤

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Timi, Your plein air sketching at the age of 12 sounds fantastic. Is there anything better than to get into an old VW – explore the world and record whatever we see in sketch books….what an exciting prospect. I believe that when we do this with a group of like minded people, it does bring a great sense of camaraderie. Maybe you could take a sketchbook when you go camping??? Having just read your blog, I know that you have been curtailed a little after the ‘flight to the floor’…..but again maybe this is the perfect opportunity to sketch Ophelia as she runs around you 🙂 Janet.

      Reply
  5. Teagan Geneviene

    Dear Janet this post is such a thrill. Your stunning work would be enough of a treat, but you added usable tips, and descriptions and images of your process (You know how I love that.) I’ll be back again for a second helping of this feast. Mega hugs.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Teagan, I can imagine you in the South West with a sketchbook – now that is a lovely thought:) I have painted in that part of the States, and the colours and landscape is so exciting……I do believe that those magical hummers are working away in the background to make this a reality for you….meanwhile, keep warm 🙂 xxx

      Reply
  6. YesterdayAfter

    Oh Janet these are so beautiful! I love the loose watercolors without fear of capturing details but just the essence of the place and time. They are all beautiful with great color choice and as always I love your hummingbirds! ❤

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you very much for your lovely comment. I am now looking forward to plein air painting in Portugal again when I go there on the 12th April…..as for the hummingbirds – they symbolise for me the ‘unseen magic’ in our world. Have a lovely day…janet 🙂 x

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning and thank you so much for commenting. I am off to Portugal on the 12th April to paint and write for a week on my own and then will be giving a course at the School – http://www.artinthealgarve.com – a place I love. The image you mentioned is from one of the islands about fifteen minutes from the School. Hope you are enjoying a creative period. Janet 🙂

      Reply
      1. Gabe Burkhardt

        I’m having a blast with the digital painting, but it sounds like you are about to return to a far more inspiring location.
        Will we get a chance to see a few paintings from your time painting/teaching in Portugal again?

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Good Sunday morning Gabe. yes, I plan to do a lot of plein air work in Portugal which I will definitely share after I return….Enjoy the digital painting…the key is to be immersed into the creative process, regardless of the medium. Hope you are having a creative weekend…janet 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Liz….by the way FYI – I will be giving two courses at the School in Portugal next year – one in April and another in the autumn….this is a great opportunity for plein air painting/sketching and one of the most creative environments I have had the pleasure to work in. http://www.artinthealgarve.com Have a lovely weekend…janet 🙂

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      thank you….and yes, painting in Monet’s Garden alone…was extraordinary. It was one of those very special moments in life…and as I say it was the perfect summer evening…The tourists/visitors leave at 5 p.m. which is when we went in and stayed until 8 p.m. Bliss. Hope you enjoy a very creative weekend Janet :)x

      Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you Sarah – for such a lovely comment….I am now looking forward to doing a lot more plein air work in Portugal, and other places 🙂 Keep smiling….Janet. xxx

      Reply
  7. Mary

    Always in awe of your painting Janet and this post holds so much eye candy, with wow factor of each piece. I love the richness and vivid feel to each of the landscapes – a dream to experience for sure. What a vista! Your hummingbird painting is my favorite, gorgeous. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Mary…high praise from you. I am now looking forward to much plein air painting in Portugal next month. Hope you enjoy a very creative weekend…janet 🙂

      Reply
      1. Kate4grace

        Thank you so much,Janet.I was really stunned by some of your images and will send the link to my sister in law who will appreciate them.I hope you too have a lovely weekend.It’s sunny here.:)xxx

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Thank you Kathryn….As you know it’s a mellow Sunday…one I love for painting and being…hope you are enjoying a beautiful day filled with writing….janet xxx

  8. janetweightreed10 Post author

    Good morning dear Dina….thank you so much – I am now looking forward to much plein air painting this year. One of these days we will do it together….have a lovely weekend. Janet xxx

    Reply
  9. janetweightreed10 Post author

    Thank you very much….I am now looking forward to lots of plein air painting this year. Landscapes can be overwhelming, and so I try to hone in on what it was that grabbed my eye initially…..Hope you have enjoyed a lovely weekend…janet 🙂

    Reply
  10. Doc Kandinsky

    Hi. I fell on one of your articles by accident and immediately in love with your paintings. Your colors are breathtaking. Thank you so much for sharing your work with us.

    Reply
      1. Doc Kandinsky

        Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. As you probably saw I’m a newcomer in the blogging sphere as well as what arts are concerned with. Painting is part of a healing process for me and so far it works fine. I hope that in time my ability to express myself through art will somehow develop and become more natural.
        Thanks again Janet

      2. janetweightreed10 Post author

        I have a deep belief that the creative process in its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing….I have been painting all of my life…and writing a blog for the past nine years. Painting and the creative process in general, including writing my blog, have always been key to my wellbeing. New beginnings are always exciting… good luck 🙂

  11. kathryningrid

    Such a wealth of beauty! Love that you get these chances to flex such different artistic muscles in magnificent places, with inspiring companions, and all so gorgeously documented in the work you share here. Sweet, sweet post!
    xoxo,
    Kathryn

    Reply
    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Dear Kathryn…..It is so wonderful to travel and record everything in paint and words….and now I am looking forward to Wales next week and then Portugal for most of the month of April….lots of plein air painting. It’s always lovely to see you here….I need to do a lot of catching up with people, as it seems that now I have much more time to myself….I am much busier 🙂 I am not complaining one bit. Janet 🙂 xxx

      Reply
  12. Jet Eliot

    I am filled with awe, Janet, and grateful for you sharing your sketchbook, paintings, and wisdom. There is a process I use in novel writing that is applicable too, where the details have to come later, and some times, there are no details for a particular scene. Capturing the flow, as you are so good at expressing, is a key element of artistry. Many thanks, my friend~~

    Reply
  13. Pingback: Pastel Dreams | writing to freedom

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