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Painting outdoors in changing weather conditions

Painting outdoors is not to everyone's liking but it is something I really recommend you try. The weather can be unpredictable though, so what do you do then? Read on.......
Posted: Saturday 8th October 2011

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Painting outdoors - if you haven't already tried this - is something I strongly recommend. Standing in front of the subject you are about to paint, there's a sense of anticipation and, if I'm honest, apprehension as well. Here's a few of the many questions that most likely will flood your mind:
  • How on earth can I get all this detail into my painting?
  • What should I focus on and where shall I draw the boundary of what to include?
  • What if the weather changes and it starts to rain?

In this article I'm going to talk about the last of these - what if the weather conditions change - and to illustrate some of the issues and some options I'm going to talk you through a painting I did outdoors in Alencon, Normandy, France.

Before getting started, perhaps I should remind you of a few basic requirements for painting outdoors:
  • Make sure you have enough to drink and eat. Even if you are near shops, you can't abandon your gear to get refreshments
  • Take a hat and sunblock if it's hot, and a coat if it looks like rain.
  • Have compact painting gear with you, and think in advance how you would deal with windy conditions
  • Prepare as much in advance as possible. e.g. if you are using a pochade box with oils, squeeze out colours in advance so you can start painting straight away.
  • Always take a small sketchbook for making notes
  • Always take your camera for taking reference photographs.
alencon after rainHere's the scene I decided to paint. It was Sunday, and Sundays are always quiet in France so there were few people about, and not much traffic either. An advantage if you are unsure about people disturbing you. It was dull and overcast, but the weather looked like it could change. And change it certainly did.....


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