Painting a Still Life Alfresco
|Tips for Alfresco Art|
However, the simplest everyday objects can be used and when carefully arranged in the garden, exude a beauty rarely seen indoors.
Still Life in the Garden
Setting up a still life outdoors need not be difficult. A patio table and chair can be used as the painting station. I often use as tripod stool as used by campers or fishers, as it allows unlimited elbow room. Adjust the seating so the thighs are parallel to the floor. This will also make the paints easier to reach if placed on the ground.
An informal setting with minimal clutter is best. An easel need only be used if working large. Otherwise, affix the painting to a backing board via bulldog clips and prop against a patio table or similar. Place all art materials on an old sheet so that it can be gathered up quickly if the weather changes. Weigh down with stones if it turns breezy.
Practical Advice for Painting En Plein Air
Beware of hotspots in the garden and also of bright sunlight bouncing off the painting surface. If possible sit in the shade or under a parasol. Wear a hat and sunblock. A cool drink always comes in handy. There is nothing wrong with wearing sunglasses, for they cut out the glare and make the still life stand out. But take them off from time to time to check the colour mixes.
Optimum Use of Light for Painting
Plan ahead for such a fickle thing as sunlight. Conceive and sketch the composition on a dull day. This will negate pressures to get the paint down before the light fades.
Finding an interesting still life composition in the garden will involve viewing, walking around, taking notes and sketching. Swapping and changing the objects might sometimes be necessary. Take the time to get the drawing right. Make a note of where the drawing took place and how the objects were arranged. Taking due thought over this will ensure a successful painting on the day.
Allow more time to complete the painting than one thinks. I find early morning or teatime in spring or late summer allows the artist ample time to record the shifting shadows. Diffused sunlight as seen beneath a parasol will take away the element of transience if the artist wishes. But if the painting does not turn out at first another can be tried without too much preparation, but painting alfresco in the garden is arguably one of the most unique ways of producing still life art that may prove addictive.
More about producing still life art in the garden can be found in my book Oil Paintings from your Garden, as signed copy of which can be purchased from Ebay (see visual link on the top right of this blog) or from Amazon.
Articles on Still Life