This past weekend I finally got out of the studio and into nature for my first time painting outdoors. I convinced my dad to come along for moral support since he has painted outdoors many times in the past. It was great because it was my first time outdoors and his first time painting in many years. It has ignited a spark for both of us and we already have another outdoor location planned – soon as the temps fall below 95˚ here in NC!

The Location

The day we chose was perfect. We headed out to Jetton Park in Cornelius at 8:30 in the morning and we were blessed with temps in the 70’s for the majority of our painting session. Prior to the paint day, I had scouted some places and found a great sandy beach on Lake Norman that has a view of The Pennisula Club golf course. If you follow my Instagram or Facebook Page, you know I’m into painting golf courses right now. Painting at the park worked out really well because we could get the car very close to the shore line – I would suggest this for your first time painting outdoors so you don’t have to carry your gear far. 

painting en plein air

The Setup

We were painting with Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable oil paints. I’ve decided I really like these in the studio and felt like they would be great for the outdoors since you don’t have to keep up with mineral spirits or spirits-soaked rags. The only thing I didn’t anticipate was how quickly they started to dry and get tacky on the palette. They do dry faster than traditional oil paints. Misting with a spray bottle would help or mixing just a little bit of Gamblin Solvent Free Gel medium kept them fluid.

We painted on 14″x11″ canvas panels that I picked up from Amazon. These were great for doing field studies. You typically have to worry about the surface when you buy cheaper panels but these are triple-primed and I found the surface easy to work with.

What I Brought

  1. Viewfinder – which I made out of black matt board. I cut two L shapes which can be adjusted for any proportions
  2. Sketchbook and pencils to figure out the layout first
  3. Wet panel carrier – which I built out of wood based on what George designed here: If you are interested in the design let me know in the comments and I’ll make a post about it.
  4. Bug spray – you will need it especially if near water
  5. Portable speaker – I like some music playing to keep the energy up
  6. Rags, paper towels, and a plastic bag for trash

Lessons Learned

  1. Always account for wind – I didn’t think we’d have any at 9am on a summer day in NC but it was quite breezy
  2. Choose your location carefully – we got maybe a little too close to a hornet’s nest which had me worried the whole time
  3. Don’t be stressed about other people – we were at a pretty busy park and no one really bothered us or engaged
  4. Paint fast! Whew the light changes quickly