A half-day outing is a good amount of time to plan. If you're fast, you can do a couple of sketches or paintings in that time.
Some artists collect data by doing sketches on location. Then they take the information back to the studio where they can do their painting under controlled lighting and in comfort. You can "sketch" with your camera, but there's no replacement for studying a subject and sketching it with watercolor and paper. Your hand, eye, and brain learn so much more this way. A camera over- and underexposes light and distorts proportions. Watercolor is a perfect way to record the colors, shapes, and angles you see.
The biggest frustration in painting outdoors is the changing light. As the sun moves, so do the shadows. Here's how I handle the shadows outdoors. If I'm painting the image of a house, I paint the house, its descriptive shadows (like different planes), and all its details, ignoring the shadows cast by the sun. When I have the house under control, I glaze in the shadows at that point and don't worry about them changing. (A glaze is a wash using lots of water with a little pigment, and fully explained in Chapter 4.) When you paint shadows, you're essentially painting air, so use a light touch, thinking "air" while applying your glaze.
The very best shadow conditions are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The angle of the sun creates more-interesting shadows at these two times.
Was this article helpful?