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10 useful tips for outdoor and studio painting.

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Outdoor Painting in Oregon

I just got back from 10 days of painting in Oregon. It has been a long while since I've had so many days in a row to paint. Oh how much one forgets... Upon having a few wobbly pops after a good painting session, I took note of some recurring issues that every artist should consider. These notes were written with oil painting in mind but many of them pertain to other mediums and apply to outdoor painting as well as studio practice.

  1. Wash your canvas with thinner before you even layout your composition. The primers used on canvases have a somewhat repelling nature to them and this process enables the surface to accept paint better from the start.

  2. Draw with a colour that dries fast. There is nothing worse than picking up the staining colour you used to draw with when you’re trying to place a colour in.

  3. Mix more colour than you think you'll need. I always seem to go back to add a bit more of those initial colours and it's very hard and time consuming to re-mix a match.

  4. The value of mountains and clouds has more to do with the sky than the ground. With that in mind, most colours need to be painted closer in value than they actually appear. Mother nature has more values at her disposal then we do using pigments. Remember: Darks appear much darker when painting outdoors, so most things can be painted lighter in value than you think.

  5. Don’t spend too much time in one area of the painting. Try to build everything together. Micro managing sections of a painting makes it look like a jigsaw puzzle.

  6. The more vertical the object the darker in value it is.

  7. The tops of trees tend to pick up sky colour.

  8. The more you look towards the sun the cooler the shadows seem. The farther you’re looking from the sun the warmer the shadows and the cooler the light.

  9. Your thinner pot is for cleaning brushes only. Always keep a fresh cup for dipping your brush into. Using dirty thinner makes a muddy painting.

  10. Always bring more ice for the beer than you think you'll need.

Paint often and get into good habits. Repetition in your painting process frees your brain to be creative.

Your friend in art,


P.S. The fall colours are just around the corner. Best time of year to paint outside!

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