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Sketching Outdoors Tips

These sketching outdoors tips will help you gain an edge in your painting and drawing skills.

Getting the Most Out of Your Subject

If you find a subject that stimulates you when sketching outdoors, get the most out of it.

Study it in various lights; in the morning light, for instance, as compared with the warmer late afternoon.

Although noon gives the most unflattering light, the subject may be one that lends itself to the best interpretation at that time. I have favorite subjects that I return to time and again.

Along with studying them under varying lighting conditions, I return at different seasons of the year to paint them and discover new inspiration.

Tips to Solve Problems When Sketching Outdoors

If you find that drawing a particular subject is difficult for you when sketching outdoors, do not rush into painting with the desperate hope that the application of color will solve everything.

Instead, make your small preliminary compositions, select one, and spend the rest of the time drawing it on the canvas.

You can outline it with French Ultramarine, checking the drawing constantly, and conclude by giving some thought to the light and shadow areas.

Keep thinking about the subject: its arrangement, its color, how you are going to interpret it, etc, and the next day return to the same spot.

You have already solved the problem of drawing it to the best of your ability.

Now you have the full sitting in which to concentrate on the painting.

You will make better progress by isolating each problem, finding the best possible solution to it, and then tackling the next one.

This is a procedure that insures progress, and it is one that many professional artists follow.

They will work a long time on a single theme: anything from a still life containing a textural problem to nocturnes.

It can be subject matter of a religious nature, a scene in a foreign country, or the lighting effect on a particular surface.

Whatever the subject, the professional artist makes exhaustive studies of it.

When he/she feels that he has interpreted the subject to the extent of his capabilities he may have a one-artist exhibition whose theme is the solution of the problem.

It is surprising how few people who view the paintings realize this; most regard it simply as subject matter that has appealed to the artist.

This can be partly true, but only the artist knows to what extent he has met the challenge of solving his/her particular problem.

Painting Light and Shadow

The placing of a cast shadow will often give interest and mystery to what would otherwise be a monotonous area.

By using a more vivid color as an accent along the edges of the light area where they meet the shadows, the sunny effect is heightened.

Another way to avoid having cast shadows appear too heavy is to place strong dark accents within the shadow areas.

The contrast makes the cast shadow seem lighter and a feeling of luminosity is imparted.

Sketching Outdoors Tips: Light and Shadow

When sketching outdoors, an objectionable foreground can often be minimized by introducing a cast shadow in the immediate foreground.

This shadow is also a good device for focusing the spectator's interest into the middle-ground area when desired.

In painting a sunny subject, the glaring light striking some o? the objects appears to be pure white.

Put a touch of Light Yellow or Yellow Ochre in the white paint and it will accentuate the feeling of glare.

Watch the cast shadows on areas such as roads and flat rooftops.

Keep in mind that the light falling from the sky penetrates these shadows, adding to their luminosity.

Shadows often appear to be very dark, particularly on a bright, glaring day, and students frequently paint them too heavily.

Keep in mind that the shadows always containa certain amount of reflected light and paint them accordingly. Sketching outdoors tips 3

Just painting the shadow areas alone gives the viewer a comprehensive realization of the subject.

In continuing the painting, place the details and accents in these shadow areas and keep the light area fairly flat and simple.

A surprisingly strong interpretation of the subject will result.

The shapes and colors of shadows are most interesting to paint in late afternoon or early morning light.

Indicate all the shadow areas at the same time, so that they are truly related to one another.

If you paint them piecemeal, by the time the entire canvas is covered the angle of light will have changed their length.

Done with these Tips? Go back to the main Sketching Outdoors Section.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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