Wednesday, May 5, 2010

54 Plein air gear

IN this video I review the necessary equipment to paint in the field. I detail the paints I use and why as well as variations of standard equipment, such as brushes, paint box with palette, and an umbrella.


  1. The "weak" green choices caught my attention because I was the thinking the same thing recently while painting a landscape in the studio ( my closet is more like it ). Even a painting done mostly from imagination can have the same issues as a plein aire picture. My greens were either too acidic on the yellow side, or too grey on the blue side. I have some terre verte pigment left over from my foray into buon fresco painting. It may indeed help stave off the green goblin when painting grass and trees. I like your inventions of red acetate cd case and the cammo umbrella,...makes great sense. Thanks.

  2. That was a great video. It's like Robinson Crusoe- one of the most exciting parts of the book is the list of supplies.

    Seeing those giant tubes of paint is very inspiring. I'll also have to try the CD case apparatus, it's the first time I've ever heard of such a thing.

  3. Steve and Stephen,

    I can squeeze out a whole tube of the small tubes onto my palette so I have to use the big 150 oz tubes.

    Getting the greens right is really tricky because they have to be right on, close just doesn't cut it. You can apply the paint in broken bits or in huge slab-like strokes but nothing will compensate for striking the wrong note.

    Incidentally with the CD case viewer I found that quinacridone red light is about right to make vibrant greens go dark (plus it is a very transparent color).

    I may tweak the greens mentioned above after I try them in the field. I will give an update.

    It snowed again yesterday so I will be waiting for it to dry out again. Such is springtime in the Rockies!

    As always, thanks for your feedback.

  4. Today while walking around town on my mail route ( I'm a small town mailman ) I kept trying to isolate the dark greens of trees is varying distancees and imagine which paints would make that color. None of the green tubes of paint seem right, even in mixtures, i.e. sap green, pthalo green, permanent green. The issue is: clarity of color without brightness of hue. I just finished an oil landscape and had to deal with this problem quite a bit, and didn't solve it without a lot of fooling around.

  5. Steve,

    It can be incredibly difficult to get a nice symphony of greens that are neither too saturated nor too gray. Your exercise of mixing greens mentally as you work is a fantastic idea.

    Something that may aid the process might be to get a piece of Mylar and paint swatches along one edge of all the greens you might use on your palette. When this dries you can carry this around in your shirt pocket and observe the various greens as you walk by holding the swatches up to trees, bushes, etc. You won't find any matches, of course, but it will more fully fix in your memory the subtle differences of these hues thereby allowing you to select the most appropriate green as a point of departure.

    I often use a cool dark green based on thalo green with alizarin crimson. A good dark warm green is thalo green and cadmium red light. Occasionally I will use various purples with greens. This shifts the green more subtly since the purple has both warm and cool components.

    Be sure you are getting some broken color into those darks because this will add a sense of reality to a color you won't get with a single flat color. If I feel a green is right but it just seems gray or lackluster I will beef the chroma up a bit and add a bit of red using my broken color method. This is usually the best method to get a vibrant green because greens are very complex. But it can take a bit of practice.

    There is a really great technique I call "painting with a turp-loaded brush" that is similar to my loaded brush technique but more appropriate for shadows since the paint goes on thinner. I will do a video on that soon. Many thanks for the comments. Let me know if you stumble on any additional insights.

  6. The green-swatches mylar piece is the perfect tip, thanks. The mail might not get delivered, but I'll get to the bottom of the 'green' problem. I have recently used some larger sheets of mylar layed over a painting during its early stages, to make painting changes of composition on it. It didn't work as well later in the process because of the thicker wet paint which would'be been smeared by the plastic sheet. But I think the pocket-swatch idea is the way to go to really understand what's going on with outdoor color.
    Also, I like the "turp-loaded" brush idea, maybe even for lighter areas as well as shadows. I guess I'm still seeking the paint viscosity that is inherent in me, something like yogurt. I saw a portrait video where the artist painted with this almost fluffy-cream oil paint, and it resonated with me. But I'm also drawn to the buttery textures of the whites and brights for the top layers. Actually, I seem to want to paint in a manner that's inbetween alla prima and glaze work. I'm determined to explore this on my next important work, sometime this summer. In the kind-while, your tips and videos are much appreciated and welcome.

  7. Well,...I should say that each painting is "important," in one way or another.


Thanks for your comments!


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