Sunday, July 19, 2009

Plein Air Painting in Watercolours

One of the simplest plein air sketching setups is in watercolour. The number of pieces in your sketching bag or box is minimal since it requires little beyond a piece of paper (preferably watercolour paper), a pencil and a few colours, often available in blocks. There are some exquisite little paint boxes, small enough to fit in your pocket, containing small watercolour blocks of paint along with a little bottle for water and a wee brush. These can be used to do a painting without the aid of a pencil or to colour a pencil or pen sketch, a technique known as pen (or pencil) and wash. This kind of outfit is great for traveling when you simply don't want to be burdened down with loads of painting gear. If you are waiting for a plane or ferry, you can whip this out and have a "quickie" done in no time because you don't have a lot of preparation to do. Here are some pics of the Winsor Newton Sketch Box that will fit in your smallest pocket and a small sketchbook.

When I have more time and want to do something a bit larger on good watercolour paper, I cut paper to size, punch the proper holes in it and place these in a looseleaf binder. This makes for a lot of flexibility and gives you the kind of paper you want. If you are heavy on the pencil drawing be sure to give your work a good spray of fixatif. Here is the binder:

If you add looseleaf note paper to your binder it's great for making notes about your painting experience.

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