Why paint a landscape en plein air?
Plein air painting is the name of a style of outdoors painting, popularised by the Impressionist movement. It was made possible thanks to the invention of the paint tube in the mid-19th century, which freed artists from the constraints of their studios.
Choosing the right place to paint outdoor
Impressionism inaugurated the nomadic studio and the freedom to paint en plein air. In 1885, Claude Monet produced his famous views of Étretat. To paint a landscape outdoors, choose an open and calm place, perhaps a forest, a river or a mountain. Nature offers many possibilities, each more inspiring than the other. Then simply set up your easel (a foldable easel, ideal for outdoors) and your canvas, to capture the moment.
Prepare your palette
Before mixing your colours, it is important to distribute your paint on the palette in the order of the chromatic circle. By organising your colours from lightest to darkest, it is easier to brighten up your mixes as required. Mix your colours directly on the palette, ideally with a knife to avoid damaging your brushes. Finally, use all of the unmixed colours in your palette and apply them directly to the canvas, to capture a truly Impressionist moment.
For the preparatory drawing on the canvas, use a pure blue which will provide the necessary contrasts to visualise the drawing on the coloured background.
Find the right balance
To realise the sky and the sea, Olivier harmonises his palette’s blues, seeking the right balance to match the light. To balance the painting’s colours, he recommends that it’s important to work on the sky and the sea simultaneously.
To emphasise areas of illumination, in this piece Olivier adds a light Mars orange, which softens the tones and recreates the colour of the stone. For the pebbles, he cools this colour to a light purple.