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10 Plein Air Painting Tips

Yves-Marie Salanson, artistic director of Sennelier, shares with you his secrets on the practice of plein air painting

"For many years now, I have been used to painting the beautiful landscapes that Brittany has to offer. Watercolour, pastel or just sketch, I always take time to capture the moment through plein air painting. Would you like to join me and discover the joys of plein air painting? Here are my 10 tips for your successful plein air outing. »

1.Write down in a notebook your favourite places, the times of day when the light is best, the equipment to take with you depending on the place... This way you will save time preparing for your outing and leave with a free spirit!

2.Pack light! Plein air painting is very much like practising sport, sometimes you have to walk for miles before you find the right setting. So don't overload yourself and take only the essential art material with you.

3.Paint what you like. Why do you stop just there? What triggers your senses here, is it the light, the reflections, the colours, the shadows, the contrasts? By asking yourself these questions it will be easier to understand and interpret your subject.

4.Remember that through your brushstrokes, you are "resuming" the landscape. So think about why you came to this particular spot and what are the more important things you want to show through what you see.

5.Sketch first. When you paint outside, it is important that you define your work space by first drawing the horizon line and then sketching the entire scene. Then it will be much easier for you to work on  the three values and tones of your canvas. Do not hesitate to take a photo of the moment you want to capture, it could be very useful if you do not finish your canvas the same day.

6.Work the larger elements of your canvas with large brushes before detailing with smaller brushes.

7.Prefer a limited and nuanced palette to create unity and harmony in your canvas. This is what will give your painting its full depth!

8.Drying is a delicate step when painting outdoors. To accelerate the drying process whatever the weather, always carry a drying accelerator medium, such as Sennelier's FLOW'N DRY.

9. Be careful of the sun, insect bites and other small inconveniences of this artistic walk. Having a small first aid kit is a good idea.

10.Finally, a piece of advice that I think is essential: trust yourself. Paint as you wish and do not try to imitate. This is how you find your own style. And of course, don't be discouraged, practice makes perfect.

Share your pleinair artworks and the most beautiful places you like to paint on www.place-to-paint.com