Plein Air painting is about painting out side in the open environment. The burn to that can be our Texas summers, literally. The average temp here in Central Texas is mid 90’s by nine, and much warmer in the afternoon.
While, it’s important to find locations that offer great options for interesting compositions. Summer plein air painting requires a few key things – scout out good locations, paint in early mornings, bring plenty of water and sunblock, grab several reference photos.
Scouting out locations is super important. Look for plenty of cool shady spots that offer good air flow. Shady breezes help against the intense summer heat especially in urban cities with lots of pavement. Local creeks and historical parks often have great potential. Plan for the early hours to take advantage of cooler temperatures as well.
Locations should also be safe for working. Take time to visit nearby shops, introduce your self, and make sure it is ok with the locals first, when possible. Letting some one know where you will be is wise, should something happen and you require help. Another thing to keep in mind and probably another post is environmental noise. Some times we can drown it out with ear buds, but stay alert when you are painting.
Third. grab reference photos of you composition. Although the early mornings are usually more tolerable than afternoon. It is very important to be aware of the changing light. Light and shadows change quickly. So you have a smaller window for “happy painting” before your composition morphs in to a whole new painting. I generally try to paint no more than 1 1/2 hours because of the change in shadows.
Lay in a quick sketch, check your composition, and paint fast! The hear effect your paints too! After most of an hour they get sticky and harder to keep loose. So watch for signs to know when you need to start wrapping up the session. You can still manage to get good regular practice so long as you are prepared with good habits.
Lastly, Hydrate! Drink water before you start. Drink water while you work, and Drink more water after you pack up for the day. Pack plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated and sunblock to prevent burns. Early mornings are often the best time here in Central Texas to manage the heat. But the dry heat can quickly take effect on anyone not drinking enough water. It is easy to forget the sun does damage even in the shade. *Sports drinks are not advisable since they will often deplete you faster.