Reading Time: 4 minutes

Plein air painting first became popular in the 1880s with the Impressionists. The fact that paint was now available in tubes allowed these artists to work “in the open air” instead of in their studios. This freedom helped the Impressionists capture the ever-changing light and shadows of their landscape and world. Today, modern plein air painters continue this passion for painting outdoors.

Plein Air painting

Plein air painting can be a wonderful experience, especially if you prepare properly. Paint on a sealed surface, such as gessoed canvas, paper or panel. Painting on an absorbent surface like watercolour paper is more challenging outdoors, because the surface absorbs the moisture. A coat or two of Atelier Gesso, Atelier Free Flow Gesso or Atelier Binder Medium will do wonders. Consider taking a few different surfaces or canvases. That way, when the light and shadows change, you’ll be able to paint the new scene before your eyes.

plein air painting scene
Take extra sealed or gessoed surfaces along for when the light changes.

If possible, scout out your location beforehand to find what inspires you. Remember, you are the artist, so you don’t need to include every detail in a particular scene – you are allowed to edit and enhance. While painting the landscape is lovely, consider plein air painting in your own neighborhood, perhaps what is outside your own front door.

The scene
plein air painting neighborhood child
The start
finisihed painting
The finish

Along with your Atelier Interactive paints, Unlocking Formula and water sprayer, take a limited amount of colors (perhaps just the primaries and white) to challenge yourself, and for the ease of logistics. There’s no need to bring your entire studio with you!

plein air square
Try painting with a limited palette

Another great option is to use the Atelier Interactive Plein Air Set. This set contains 12 x 0.66 US fl oz colors: Crimson, Transparent Perinone Orange, Arylamide Yellow Light, Arylamide Yellow Deep, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue, Dioxazine Purple, Pthalo Green, Permanent Green Light, Carbon Black, and Titanium White. It also includes 4 x 2 US fl oz (60ml) mediums: Atelier Slow Medium, Atelier Thick Slow Medium, Atelier Unlocking Formula and a Fine Mist Water Sprayer.

Always remember to take your “dirty water” with you for proper disposal, and bring a trash bag for dirty paper towels and other waste. Live by the “carry in/carry out” motto! Other handy non-paint items are an umbrella, a stool, a snack, plenty of water to drink, sunscreen, baby wipes, a hat and bug spray.

paint on hands artist
Baby wipes would be useful now.

Because you have the ability to control Atelier Interactive’s drying process with the Unlocking Formula, you can work wet-in-wet if desired, even outdoors. Mediums such as Atelier Clear Painting Medium or Thick Painting Medium will extend Atelier Interactive’s working time, which can be helpful in this type of situation. Since the environment affects any paint’s drying and curing time, you might find that you need to use the Unlocking Formula fairly soon in the process to reopen paint layers, especially if you are painting in a warm and sunny place. You can also use the Unlocking Formula to help refresh paint that’s drying on the palette, and the next day, use it to reopen paint layers if you choose to “finish” your painting in the studio at a later time. Paint dries more slowly in cooler and humid weather, so you may find that if you want to layer quickly, add some Atelier Fast Medium/Fixer to the mixture.

So instead of painting indoors, #createwithchroma and give plein air painting a try!

Atelier Acrylics Tutorials

Welcome to Chroma Online!

Please select the country you want to visit.