PLEIN AIR PAINTING
During the summer months we arrange a series of outings to provide members with the opportunity paint on location. Plein Air painting is a great way to improve your artwork - seeing the actual subject in front of you and being exposed to the elements can be inspirational and helps you capture more of the feel of the place than if you were painting from a photograph. And there are the social aspects of painting in a group too, where we can learn from each other (there's always someone to ask), and the interaction with the public can be fun. For more information on Plein Air painting see Paul Fisher's article below.
2018 Programme of Plein Air Outings
This year we are going to have 5 events, focusing on larger towns/villages, to provide a larger range of subject matter as well as easier parking, toilets and refreshment opportunities.
The events will be on the first Saturday of each month from May to September. We will meet at 0930 and reconvene for a 'show and tell' at 1630. Painting locations and lunch will be up to individuals (or groups) - its meant to be flexible and, above all, fun!
Saturday 5 May.
Bradford is a very picturesque town, enhanced by hilly terrain. The town itself has some lovely old buildings, an arched bridge with lock-up, a couple of churches, the Shambles and a railway station. Just a couple of hundred metres to the south of the centre is the Tithe Barn and related buildings, as well as the pack-horse bridge and river views. And slightly further on is the wharf on the Kennet & Avon canal with plenty of narrowboats, a lock and some great buildings.
There are public toilets in the town (in the St Margarets Hall car park) and at the wharf (beside the K&A Trust Cafe). There are cafes and pubs at both locations too.
The best car park is at the end of Baileys Barn, off Moulton Drive - it is pay-and-display a few £s for the day (the town centre car parks are often full). Alternatively you can park for free in Baileys Barn or Moulton Drive if you don't mind a little walk.
We will meet by the K&A Trust Cafe on the wharf at 0930. Its about a hundred metres from the Baileys Barn car park.
Saturday 2 June.
Often referred to as the prettiest village in England, the medieval Castle Combe is a real gem on our doorstep. There is the market cross and church at the top of the main street and the iconic bridge and brook at the bottom, with rows of old houses and many individual ones full of oldy-world character.
There are public toilets at the bottom of the village over the bridge on the right. The cafes and pubs have them too.
The main car park is at the top of the hill on the right just after you turn off the B4039. There is also parking on the left of the hill as you go down to the village - this is closer but fills up quickly when its busy.
We will meet in the Old Stables Coffee Shop at 0930. Its about 50 metres down from the market cross on the left (along a short lane but you'll see it from the road). I suggest lunch in The White Hart (by the market cross) - they will likely be busy for main meals on a Saturday but sandwiches are quicker.
Saturday 7 July.
This day is focussed around The Barge Inn on the northern edge of Seend Cleeve down beside the canal. There is lots to paint around here: the pub itself is very picturesque as well as the canal and bridge, and nearby cottages and farm buildings, all surrounded by fields/trees. The event will include an organised group lunch at The Barge Inn and a table will be booked for 1pm. Families and non-painting members are welcome and reservation numbers will be collected beforehand so no-one is disappointed. No need to make your menu choice until you're seated on the day.
There is a large car park adjacent to the pub and we will meet there at 0930 for painting as usual. No arrival coffee I'm afraid because the pub doesn't open until 1100 so bring your own if you need it. And of course you can also paint again after lunch if you wish.
Saturday 4 August.
Devizes is an old market town that began trading textiles and corn, then diversifying into brewing and tobacco. It has almost 500 listed buildings, so a good variety to paint! The subjects are spread over quite a large area so we will centre around the Market Place.
The station car park has the easiest and cheapest longterm parking (around 4.50 for a day, cheaper for shorter stays), its in Station Road and signposted, then walk east along Station Road a couple of hundred metres and it comes out in Market Place by the Corn Exchange. Market Place has at least 4 pubs with toilets or there are public toilets only a hundred metres or so up through the covered shambles.
We will meet in Greggs on the corner by the Market Cross (easily visible) at 0930. I suggest the Silk Mercer (a Weatherspoons pub) in St John's Street for lunch around 1300.
Saturday 1 September.
For the final outing of the year we will return to one of last year's favourites, the picturesque village of Biddestone made famous in 2015 as Carsley in 'Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death' (some of which was filmed in Lacock too). There is a meandering green with duckpond, a Norman Church, a village pump and a plethora of pretty cottages.
There is plenty of parking around the green. No public toilets but the White Horse pub (on the green) is open from 1130 - 1430. There is also the Biddestone Arms a short walk down the road.
Meet by the duckpond at 0930, bring your own coffee. I suggest lunch around 1300 in the White Horse.
If you want to find out more about any of the locations beforehand simply google it - most places have interesting background / history, and 'images' is a good source of composition ideas. And google maps will help you find your way around before you get there.
2017 Programme of Plein Air Outings
The programme includes a fortnightly outing, alternating between Saturday and Friday. Locations are chosen to provide a variety of subject matter, easy parking and toilets*/refreshments (or bring your own). Outline for the day is: Meet 0930 - morning painting - lunch 1230 to 1330 - afternoon painting - depart 1630. Check the weather forecast and decide if its suitable for you. Come all day or part of it, bring any medium, its meant to be relaxed and fun.
*In some villages where there are no public toilets we rely on the pub facilities, which is usually ok if we reciprocate by taking a coffee break and/or lunch there. Some open at 1100 but others not until 1200 so, if this is a problem for you, starting out with an empty bladder may be wise.
This year's outings start on 10 June and the first one will be on private property so that anyone who hasn't ventured outdoors painting before won't have to worry about the public (which can be intimidating at first but rewarding when you get used to it!).
Sat 10 Jun.
Ken's garden has plenty to paint (including a lake and out-buildings) and also offers views across open countryside. For the more adventurous there are cottages, farm buildings and a church just across the road. There are toilets, kettle and microwave available on site, and The Bell On The Common pub by the village green (about 3/4 mile away) is available for lunch. Directions will be emailed to members separately.
Fri 23 Jun.
What more needs to be said (although don't forget that if you paint from an area that you have paid to enter you can't sell your work). Meet by the NT cafe.
Sat 8 Jul.
A quiet village surrounding a pretty green with market cross and lock-up, St Mary's Church (15th century), and lots of cottages and distinctive old houses. Pub is the Longs Arms (opens 1200) for lunch. On-street parking, meet by the green.
Fri 21 Jul.
The Wharf has a wealth of painting material: canal (Kennet & Avon), narrowboats, lock, cafes, pubs and other buildings, and plenty of greenery. There are public toilets beside the K&A Trust Cafe, as well as 3 pubs: Barge Inn, Lock Inn and Canal Tavern, all within the space of a hundred yards or so and all serve lunch. The car park is at the end of Baileys Barn, off Moulton Drive - it is pay-and-display (a few £s for the day) or you can park for free in Moulton Drive and walk a couple of hundred yards. Meet by the K&A Trust Cafe.
Sat 5 Aug.
A very picturesque village, made famous in 2015 as Carsley in Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (some of which was filmed in Lacock too). A meandering green with duckpond, a Norman Church, a village pump and a plethora of pretty cottages. Also 2 pubs: the White Horse (opens at 1200) is on the green and the Biddestone Arms (opens at 1100) is a short walk down the road, both do lunch. Parking around the green, meet by the duckpond.
Fri 18 Aug.
I won't say too much because most of you will be familiar with Avebury and its NT Manor/Garden and Stones (same selling rules as Lacock). But beyond that the village itself has some lovely streets and cottages. The NT car park is free for NT members, else about £3-4 I think. Lunch can be had in the Red Lion pub or the NT cafe. Meet by the NT cafe.
Sat 2 Sep.
A large lake near Crockerton with car park (cheap - honesty box) and cafe (open 1000-1600). Choose from water, trees, paths, boats, fisherman, dog walkers, etc - the lake is literally surrounded by walks and countryside. Meet by the cafe.
Fri 15 Sep.
Simply too much to list here, this unspoilt village has an amazing variety of painting potential. Also a cafe and a pub (the White Hart) for lunch. The drawback is parking - there are a few places on the road down the hill but they are usually full unless you are really early, so its normally the car park at the top of the hill. We may be able to work a drop-off system for painting gear. Meet in the Market Cross.
Plein Air Painting by Paul Fisher
We meet in the beautiful village of Lacock and during the summer some members will abandon the Village Hall to paint outside in the Village itself. Some will stand at an easel whilst others will work in their sketch books - there are so many attractive scenes within the village as well as a host of architectural features, just right for a small sketch vignette.
Our outside exhibitions at local fairs and fetes often see 5 or 6 members painting at easels and some are working on a scene at the fair.......and now more of our members are taking their sketching and painting gear with them on holidays or simply on day trips. This page is to display some of those paintings and sketches and to offer help and advice to those who may like to try their hand at plein air art.
WHAT IS PLEIN AIR PAINTING?
Plein Air is a term borrowed from the French phrase "open air" - it is particularly used to describe the act of 'painting outdoors' where the painter reproduces what he/she sees in real life infront of them.
So, if I take my art gear and sit out in the garden and paint from a photograph is that 'plein air'? - no it is not. If I do the same thing but paint the scene in front of me - ie., the weeds growing through a rusty old bedsted - yes, that is painting plein air. What if I set up a 'still life' on the garden table and paint that? - now we are splitting hairs - some societies would say no, others, yes. Personally, I feel that if you are outside and painting anything from 'life' rather than a photograph, it's plein air - after all, you could easily argue that my attempt at the wall flowers (below) is a still life but I think, having done it outside, it is a plein air painting too.
I have several 'painting kits' depending on where I am and what I want to paint. I find it so frustrating to go out for the day, it's lashing with rain, the coffee and sandwiches are finished and there is a nice scene in front of the car (through the windscreen wipers) - so I have a 'mini kit' which is kept in the boot of the car at all times - it is a small pic-nic cool pouch with kiddies drink bottle for the water, a small sealed container which acts as a water container, small water colour box with palette, pencil, ink pen, a couple of small synthetic brushes and a small A5 heavy weight (Moleskin) sketch pad.
For more serious work and where I have definitely decided to go 'plein-air' painting, I have my 'midi kit' - the equipment is just bigger and more extensive but all fits into my Loxley combined back pack and folding ruck sack stool (this has gone with me to Tuscany, the Highlands and even Grimsby - it will go as hand luggage on flights). A4 sized Moleskin watercolour book, Cloverleaf palette, water container plus small bottles of water (both for drinking and for the painting), an assortment of brushes, pens, pencils etc in a Cotman Watercolour Travel bag, folding sun hat, lightweight anorak, towel, small pack of cigars/matches and a flask of the amber nectar!
Chloe is an oprional extra!
I also have a very comfortable lightweight art chair plus umbrella and aluminium easel for days outside when I am doing nothing but plein-air painting.
Just a few notes :_
- Keep it simple - do small vignettes, don't start by trying to paint a whole scene.
- Try painting without drawing - so much fun and quickly enhances your painting skills.
- If you do want to paint a 'scene', stretch your arms/hands out in front of you at shoulder width and paint only what you can see between your hands - if it does not include what you want, rotate your body until you get what you want between your hands.
- Keep equipment small, light and minimal.
- Pack some elastic bands/bulldog clips to hold pages down when the wind blows.
- Don't worry if people come behind you and 'have a look' - remember, you are painting and creating and improving and capturing a memory!
- For those on Facebook take a look at the UK Plein Air Society
So go into the back garden on a sunny day - choose any subject, it really does not matter what, and give it a go!
Just recently I have discovered Derwent Inktense paints. These often come as pencils or blocks but recently Derwent have released a small, lightweight travel set complete with 12 colours in pans, a water brush and sponge. Walking around places like London etc, carrying any art equipment soon becomes a pain - so I have now got my kit down to just 1kg in weight using the Inktense palette, A4 Moelskine watercolour book and a roll containing Pentel Aquash brushes, pencils, pens etc.
Right, my painting/sketching kit weighing less than 1kg with Inktense palette, A4 Moleskine water colour book and roll of Aquash brushes etc.
Below, 2 paintings done plein-air with the Inktense paints and Aquash brushes.
|Above - painted on our 2018 trip to London in Parliament Gardens||Above - a well known cottage drawn and inked during our Plein-Air event in Castle Combe.|
Here are examples of members' plein air artwork:-
Above a picture by Sarah on her holiday in Morocco
|Above - John and Colin sketching in Lacock - Thursday 12th May|
Brian on a trip to London
.....and his sketch
Paul sketching and painting in Parliament Square - Sunday 15th May.
The view towards Big Ben - I didn't leave enough space for Gandhi's flip-flops!
.......and a view in the opposite direction.
Above, Karen and Jane painting plein air at Bradford on Avon - 17th May
Jane with her painting of the Town Bridge
Above - 2 sketches from Margaret's sketch book which she did on a recent visit to Venice.
Above, the Old Bakery painted plein air by Sarah.
|Below, more artwork done by Brian plein-air in Venice.|
|Below - a plein-air sketch from my Broads holiday - one view of Horning||Below - a plein-air sketch done by Brian on a recent Wild West themed camping trip.|
|Below are a couple of plein-air paintings done in my sketch book recently in Essex - the first at Frinton and the second on the waterfront at Harwich.|
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