How to Paint Plein Air
Step by Step
Artist Randy Pitts
I use thinned Transparent Oxide Red to draw out the basic shapes of the painting, suggesting secondary shapes where I think I need them to guide me later. Outdoors, when the sun is bright, white canvas can be hard on the eyes, even in shade, so I will often tone the canvas with a wash of Transparent Oxide Red to kill the white of the canvas before starting. A wash that’s been wiped down will set up pretty quick outside so you can begin painting over it after a few minutes. Since I’m in a controlled lighting environment for this painting, I opted to start with the drawing and not toning the canvas.
Next place in the dark values. Unfortunately, the photo does not show the difference in color temperature of the different darks I’ve placed. While the values are almost identical, the darks in the bottom foreground are warmer than the darks in the middle ground trees, which are cooler. While the darks look almost black, they are not. This will become apparent when color is added.
Here I’ve gone back in and re-stated the pine trees in the middle distance and added the suggestion of bushes and smaller trees as well. These were backlit! This is merely the suggestion of tree shapes. I didn’t care for how I had painted the mountain on the right, so I wiped it out and restated and added detail.
Questions to ask yourself while painting!