How to Start Painting en Plein Air

Have you ever wanted to start plein air (outdoor) painting, but didn’t know where to start?  May I suggest starting in your own back yard?  Here is a video showing how I paint in my garden.


When I first started painting outside, I would drive around looking for the perfect location only to find that I had forgotten something essential (paint, for instance) or it had started to rain or there were people watching me.   And I’d come home without much of a painting.   So I decided to try a few excursions to the back yard to work the kinks out of my system.  I was able to run back inside to fetch forgotten items, and no one was making comments about my clumsiness.  At that point the subject matter was not important; a magnolia blossom or a lawn chair was equally useful for drawing practice.

So if you want to get started, pack a kit with the following essential supplies:

A portable easel
Drawing book
Pencil or other drawing instrument
Palette knife
Solvent (mineral spirits for oils, water for watercolor and acrylics)
Paper, canvas, or board
Paper towels or rags
Any other tools specific to your medium
Bug repellant
Drinking water
A canvas bag or backpack

Here is a photo of a basic kit for painting with acrylics.

Painting Kit

Supplies for painting outdoors with acrylic paints

I’ve included pre-toned red boards as my support, but you can use any white or toned canvas, board, or paper.

Once you have your kit together, head outside and set up to paint.  Don’t worry too much about the subject; just test the equipment.  Once you have everything together, MAKE A LIST, and keep it in your bag so you won’t forget anything.  Keep the kit packed and ready to go at any moment.

Don’t waste a day of this beautiful fall weather!  Do some plein air painting this week, and post some comments or questions to let me know how things are going.

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