Plein Air – Choosing a Subject for Sketching Outside

I’m off to France this weekend for a week of cycling and painting. I’ve got my sketching kit – whittled down to the barest essentials (see my last post on plein air sketching kit) as I’m on my bike and carrying all my gear. Feels like quite an adventure and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ll be taking advantage of coffee and lunch stops to get my sketch book and paints out to do a small sketch.  How do I choose?  For me it can be a myriad of things that catch my attention – the colours on a market stall, the shadows from a tree, the line or angle of a bench, a set of steps,  sunlight on water, roof tiles.  I draw what catches my attention in the moment.  Mostly I’m thinking about keeping it simple, as this is usually the most effective for me.

The temptation to paint the large and obvious I find doesn’t always work, the times I’ve done this I’ve often been dissatisfied with the result. Or, alternatively, when I spend ages and ages searching for the “perfect” view or the “right” thing to draw.  Spontaneity and being in the moment works well I find.

Here’s a few examples of some successful sketching, where there’s a narrow focus or I’ve kept it pretty simple.

Here’s a series of tree studies I did while away in Kent for the weekend. they were all located in the holiday park where we were staying!


Published by Lin Cheung

I am an artist and teacher and I love working with people to help them be more creative.

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