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How to Enjoy the Plein Air Painting Experience

By Chelsea Reed

Have you heard about plein air painting? It’s an art technique that has been used by famous masters like Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Meaning “in the open air” in French, plein air is essentially painting outdoors and can be enjoyed by experienced and beginning artists alike. If you’re curious to try this wonderful activity yourself, read through these tips below to get started the easy way.

Tip #1: Be Prepared

dayoffPainting outdoors is different than painting in a studio. Wear neutral colored clothes and take your sunglasses off to avoid visual distractions. Take the time to pick a site that is good to paint, as not all beautiful places translate well into two dimensional paintings. Shade your canvas from direct sunlight with a wide brimmed umbrella, preferably white. And use a good, sturdy easel to secure your canvas for the next wind gust that comes along!

Tip #2: Focus on the Simple Things

An army of brushes is not required to enjoy painting plein air artwork. A few of them such as a fan brush, an angled brush, and straight brush will serve your purpose just fine. Consider blending with a small palette for easier color placement in your plein air painting. It’s also a good idea to paint smaller canvases for your first art pieces and then work your way into bigger sizes.

Tip #3: Enjoy the Journey!

Remember to be prepared for weather changes and lots of interruptions when you’re outside. Embrace the surroundings of your painting location and the people who come and go there. Some may be curious enough to watch you paint or point out what you’re doing to someone else. But don’t worry, this is quite normal! Enjoy the journey where your art takes you. Take your time in developing your techniques, and practice lots! All of these things are what make plein air painting a memorable experience.

Tip #4: Connect with Plein Air Artists

Painting isn’t the only way to enjoy plein air art! Watching a plein air artist work their craft is likewise rewarding. Many people observe Suzanne Morris paint plein air at Seaside Art Gallery during their Roll & Stroll celebration of art in July each year. Having the opportunity to talk with a plein air artist is especially cool because you get to know the artist behind the artwork that is being painted right in front of you!

To learn more about plein air and other styles of painting, contact Seaside Art Gallery. The gallery is one of the largest galleries in the Southeast, with more than 50 years of excellence and reputed customer service. Their toll free number is 800-828-2444, or shop 200+ artists on their website,

Chelsea Reed is a freelance copywriter. She writes articles, blogs, websites and online content from her base in North Carolina.