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When was the last time you painted outside? Most artists work indoors, confined to a studio or workshop. While working indoors is often a logical choice, the benefits of taking your easel outside are enormous.
Changing your painting environment can help refresh your mind and reinvigorate your creativity. Working outdoors allows you to breathe fresh air, hear the chirping of birds and feel the wind on your face. When you paint outside, you remove the safety net of being inside an enclosed space, which helps expand your awareness.
With the right preparation, you can easily set up a temporary studio outside. Most art stores sell portable easels that are lightweight and easy to assemble once you’ve reached your outdoor destination. You can also pick up various other supplies to make your plein air painting experience more convenient – such as plastic cups with lids for water, brush carriers, brush soap, portable folding stools, and paint boxes specifically designed to be carried to and fro.
Although these supplies are handy for extended plein air painting sessions, they’re not completely necessary if you simply want to paint or draw outdoors with minimal preparation and even less materials. With a sketchbook and a pen or pencil, you can quickly capture your surroundings while sitting on a park bench or sipping a latte at a cafe. Bring a small watercolor travel set if you’d like to add color to your outdoor sketches. If you’re traveling, sketching on site is an excellent way to capture fleeting scenes, architectural details, and the overall flavor of a place.
When you paint or draw outside, remember that passersby may pause to look at what you’re creating – especially if you are set up with an easel. This can be awkward for some artists who prefer to work in the privacy of an indoor studio. However, if you are open to friendly conversation with those who stop to comment on your work, you may wind up with a new collector or a new fan!