Painting Plein Air


Yesterday I was excited  to be heading outside in the sunshine to sketch in the landscape, to feel the sun on my face and sketch what I see in front of me. I’m capturing the landscapes in my local area. These are the hills I see on my travels and I know their names. I like that local connection. Do you know the names of landscape features in your local area?

The beautiful Radnor Valley was my location for my sketching and painting today, as butterflies passed by.  I was looking towards Stanlo Tump with its glacial hanging valley just to its left.

0907B46A-B005-437F-9876-A2E81849FBB9When I first settle with my sketchbook and paints, I study the landscape in front  of me. I decide on the lines to draw which will capture an essence of the view, without including all the detail. Less is more. Focusing on this approach means I can sketch, paint and add Indian ink and coloured pencil outlines, all within 15 minutes. I then wipe the paint palette with tissue, pack it away and carry my open sketchbook until the painting is dry.  It makes it possible for me to sketch on my walks with others and whilst on my travels, without the dreaded, ‘are you going to be long’ sentence. I’m sure many of you have experienced this, whether it’s with your photography or sketching.

See if you can sketch the landscape with less detail. If it’s a mountain, start with outlining the mountain. Then look for the next feature which stands out, it could be a tree, woodland, hedgerow or track, note the difference in the colour of the grass in green and the gorse in a darker colour. See how the light is falling on the land and the shadows which might be highlighted. Once you have your main features in, start on the colours, painting the main block of green for the landscape. Once you have painted and it’s dry, I go over the outlines in Black Indian ink and enhance features with coloured pencils. I sometimes make notes too about what I see, what I hear and what I smell.  Have a go, I would love to hear how you get on.


I’m really enjoying this approach to capturing the landscapes on my travels. My sketchbook is filling up fast. It’s so nice to look back through and I’m instantly transported back to the spot where I was sketching and painting.

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