Begin the Journey

Painting Plein Air at Night

Published on September 15, 2011 under All Posts
Painting Plein Air at Night

“Mt. Shasta in Moonlight” by Stefan Baumann

Painting on location is difficult enough, but painting on location at night offers a new set of issues that challenge even the most skilled plein air artist.  First, seeing your painting and palette in the dark can be difficult, but with the new LED light that straps on your head, you can see whatever you look at, your painting, your palette, and your brush strokes.  You can actually see what you are doing.  Second, many animals rustle in the bushes (including bear) who are hungry, and they feed at night.  Be careful that you are not on their menu.  It is best to paint with a friend when you paint outside at night.

Whether at night or during the day, begin each painting with the idea that the act of painting can be effortless and enjoyable.  If you overwork a painting, it can appear labored and lack spontaneity.  First, cover your canvas with an Asphaltum or a warm brown stain using odorless turpentine and paint.  Then, simply sketch your composition with a brush using Asphaltum to indicate the areas of the greatest dark, and wipe off the stain with a paper towel in the areas of greatest light.  Pay attention to include the most important element, the effect of light.  Add Alizarin and Cobalt blue to the Asphaltum to indicate an underlying color.  Paint the details only after the sketch is complete.  The viewer loves to see effects, particularly the effect of light dancing on objects of beauty.

Painting on location takes practice and tenacity, but the rewards are endless.  If you have never painted outdoors, go outside and paint something.  You will be surprised to see that everything you need to paint is right in front of your eyes; all the subjects, colors, values, shapes and  inspiration.



Plein air and Alla Prima artist Stefan Baumann, host of  the PBS painting series “The Grand View, America’s National Park through the eyes of an artist” and author of “Observations Of Art and Nature,” travels in his vintage travel trailer painting America’s western landscape. Baumann paints outdoors with oils and canvas capturing stunning vistas, wildlife, western landscapes, National Parks and still life, thrilling art collectors throughout the world.  He has many collectors acquiring his paintings as investment internationally. His painting style is called Romantic Realism with Lumunism and the extraordinary way he captures the effect of light is a truly an American Style used to paint the Western Landscape.  He can be seen painting in Yellowstone, Yosemite and in the Grand Canyon and Baumann’s “how to paint” DVDs filmed on location in the National Parks  are the very best on the market.


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