“Lily Lake Amana” Part 1 of 2 Plein Air Acrylic Painting Demo w Tips for Painting Outdoor Landscapes

“Lily Lake Amana” Part 1 of 2 Plein Air Acrylic Painting Demo w Tips for Painting Outdoor Landscapes


hi it’s Dena Tollefson and welcome I’m
so glad to have you here today have you ever painted outside done some plein air
painting outside today I’ll be sharing with you the process that I follow when
I’m painting in plein air and I’ll be giving you five tips that will help
increase your success when you are painting outdoors five practical tips
for things that you can do to ensure that you have successful painting or
sketching or drawing outdoors so what you saw me do there first was tone the
canvas and what I’m using was or I’m using all acrylics here and I’m painting
with a Masterson stay wet palette acrylic paint and I’m using a Guerrilla
Painter pochade box you can see my canvas is up on this edge of the pochade
box and I’ll show a little view of it later to what it looks like but
basically it opens up and you can carry that with all your painting supplies
that type of thing in this enclosed box so let’s get right into the tips the
first tip that I have for you when painting outdoors I think this is
probably one of the most important things for me is making sure I have a
painting packing list so that list I will be sharing that list with you if
you look in the description below for this video I have a list of all the
things that I pack when I’m doing any kind of plein air painting so I normally
paint indoors in my studio but today here I’m painting on location at Lily
Lake in historic Amana Iowa as part of the Catiri’s Art Oasis Fresh Paint
annual painting experience that they do every year and they’ve been doing it for
10 years I’ve participated multiple times I’m painting along with 45 of
their artists as part of the event so owners Jenise
and Ithiel Catiri represent my originals and they also will give prizes and
purchase awards artists from all over the Midwest are participating here today
with this event so with the packing list that I do things like even things like
you know if you have all your stuff with you and all of a sudden you realize oh
my goodness I don’t have my paintbrushes with me or oh hey I got here and I
forgot to bring trash bags to store any of the trash that I might create you
know you want to make sure that if you’re especially if you’re painting out
in in the wild areas or in the wilderness somewhere you may not have
access to water that kind of thing so on my list I have if I need to bring
water in any kind of mixing containers the easel itself if you’re going to be
sitting or standing you want to consider all those things so that packing list is
is a key thing so the next important thing or the second tip I have for
painting outdoors successfully is when you get outside if you’re like me you
are overwhelmed with the sound of the animals and the beauty of being outdoors
and God’s creation and it’s it’s easy to think like oh my gosh what am I going to
put in my painting so a real tip here would be to look for and create a strong
composition so I’m working on creating a diagonal you can see that diagonal and
the darks are all connecting and a dynamic composition where you can make
an X form other examples would be like a c-shaped composition s-shaped
composition cruciform any of those strong compositions where you think
before you start painting what areas of dark am I going to group together what
areas of light am I going to group together and and that will help create a
strong composition for your when you’re painting outside it’s
sometimes tempting to include everything in your painting and with the bright
light it’s also easy to to paint something that might look good outside
but when you get it inside either into a home or a gallery something like that
it’s not gonna look as dynamic so planning that how to had is really
important you can see here I’m blending in some of the areas of the water and
the area that attracted me here to this site was I you know I could have chosen
to paint the entire lily it’s this called Lily Lake in Amana Iowa I could
have chosen to paint the entire lake and a bit of the sky and that little bit of
landscape you see back behind there and maybe a tree next to me but I chose to
zero in and paint a tiny section of the Lily Lake and the what I was looking for
specifically was a diagonal of dark that I could contrast against the light areas so this third tip is to use a small
canvas or if you’re sketching or drawing um use a small sketchbook so this
particular painting I’m doing here is 24 inches wide and 12 inches tall and it’s
actually a little bit on the larger side for what you want to do for plein air a
lot of times a lot of artists will do 8 by 10 12 by 16 5 by 7 4 by 6 something
like that keep it small because when you keep it small it’s easier to see your
composition when you’re working small and then there’s also things like wind
I’m it’s not a super windy day here than I am but the there is a breeze and I was
having to use a thing to hold down my paper towels when I was working so they
wouldn’t fly off and and the same thing can be true of your canvas when you’re
working you know a lot of things can be jiggling around
moving and having a big canvas can kind of just get in the way so I recommend
using small art materials in a small canvas so tip 4 is to make sure you don’t chase
the light tip 4 is laying in early on deciding where your lightest areas of
light are going to be and where your darkest areas of dark are gonna be so
even though I’m working on a cloudy day there is still a strong sense of light
that is hitting the lilies and I’m also choosing to pull those lilies and closer
on my composition the but the area of dark is right underneath the blossom and
actually I’m calling them lilies but they’re technically lotus that’s a lotus
to demonstrate a lily and a lotus so the lotus sits up off of the water on a long
stem and a lily sits actually in the water so I’m I’m using the word lily
loosely it’s actually technically these are lotus blossoms and lotus leaves
there are some lily pads which are those flat round ones in this particularly so
in my composition I have some tall vertical plants I don’t know the name of
them then I’ve got the lotus blossoms the lotus leaves and the lily pads now
more a little bit more about tip for when you are painting outside there
there is this phenomenon called chasing the light that you want to avoid and
that would be where you set up your still life or you set up what your going
to be doing for landscape and then you start painting and what happens is as
the sun is moving across the landscape the shadows change and the quality of
color changes and all of those kind of things happen so by laying in the
lightest lights and the darkest darks first it’s helpful there’s a little shot
of my set up I’ve got some buckets there for clean water and you can see it is
kind of blowing around a little bit so so I’ve got the funny thing too is
normally I have my Guerrilla Painter pochade box that’s this easel I’m
working with normally have that sitting on a tripod and so sometimes when you’re
outside you’ve got to improvise to so what happened with
my tripod broke when I was going to set it up so I had to improvise and I used
it a bucket turned a bucket upside down that was when I was going to use for my
trash put that upside down and then when I was using making trash I stored it in
another container but able to still be able to pain I’m at sitting in a little
bit of an awkward angle but was able to make it work so that’s something – is
something likely will go wrong you never know what it is something might tip over
you might get sand or plants that landed to your paint it’s all kind of part of
the exciting process and and that’s part of the whole thing so you can see what
I’m working on now is on the composition I’m thinking about the middle tones now
so I’ve decided to instead of lighter areas I decided to go with a darker
color of paint for thee to represent the water and in doing that I wanted the
focal area to be the blossoms and to kind of create a diagonal pattern with
the darks and the lights in the painting you can also see the edge of my canvas I
still have is white the way that what we have here is the I’m gonna be
painting that at the very end I’m gonna use a flat paintbrush and paint the
edges and then it’ll dry quickly since it’s acrylic but that’s something too if
you’re plein air painting in this particular instance everything has to be
done on-site in the moment and so what we did is you bring your canvas and your
papers into the gallery and they stamp everything so that way they know that
everything was done on-site but if you’re not doing everything on-site
you’re maybe doing a field study or you know it’s not something that’s
necessarily for a contest then you could you know paint your edges ahead of time
or bring a toned canvas or you know something like that
or do some preliminary sketches and a finish in your studio so my fifth tip
for you is to to use nature as your guide but be sure to inject your own
personality in and you the observant person will notice that I’m using much
more bright and vivid colors than what are actually out there in that Lily Lake
and so what I’m choosing to do here is to have a file this to kind of an
approach or a idea where I’m using color to show expression rather than stick
stick religiously to the shapes and the specific colors that I see I’m choosing
to interpret the landscape and my impression and emotions that I feel
while I’m painting and then be free to be expressive so what I mean by that is
I can if a plant isn’t exactly where I want it to be I can move it if there’s
something there that I don’t want to paint in I can you know ignore it I have
brought some of the flowers there the flowers are the lilies are actively
blooming in Pond but in this section that I’m
working in I had to move the blossoms a little bit further in
I also added additional blossoms so it’s a thing where you can in order to have
the composition read the way you want you know feel free to interpret that
however you see fit and let it really be a personal expression I feel like that’s
part of with art is that you allow a combination of your what’s in your mind
what you see and what’s in your spirit and your emotions and allowing all of
those things to come together when you’re creating your your own work of
art so simplifying things moving things over adding your own personality having
fun to me that’s kind of what it’s all about I’m working now here on adding some
highlights onto the lily pads that are in the water and then also working on
those vertical lotus leaves and the lotus blooms you can see here I’m using
a Masterson stay wet palette a mini a mini size just a small one and that
keeps my acrylics wet while I’m working so I did not have to mist with water or
spray with water do anything like that the moisture and the palette keeps the
paint at the right moisture level and you can see here off to the side my I’ve
got a Nikon D50 digital camera so the video that you’re watching has wish
using that camera as well as just my iPhone off to the side you can see there
there’s the bucket that I set my Guerrilla Painter pochade box on now adding a
little bit of Mars black underneath those lilies to ground the lilies in to
have them sitting on the surface of the water by grounding meaning that we had a
very very dark element to show that there’s a shadow there we go getting those stems in there and now signing with a liner brush and I
want to thank you for visiting here with me and I hope to see you again soon so
until next time this is Dena Tollefson bye-bye

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