You can wander for hours and hope to find a good spot for your plein-air painting session; however, you can end-up walking more than you paint. It is much more efficient to explore the area in advance and take note of the different potential painting spots. It won’t solve all your troubles (for instance, you find a big van blocking the view you planned to paint), but it will help to prevent most issues.
How to get the most of your preparatory expedition:
- Explore the area at the same time that you plan to go painting the next day. This way, you will check the place under similar lighting conditions. This is particularly important if you paint in a city where buildings can block the sunlight.
- Take practicalities into account: it won’t work if your ideal painting spot is in the middle of the road. If you know that the place you want to paint is full of tourists, aim at painting early in the morning, before the place is invaded.
- How easy it is to access the place? Can you park your car nearby or would you have to carry your material over a long distance?
- Are there any amenities you wish to have? If you paint in a public garden, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and take a break in the middle of your session.
- “Open areas” versus “closed areas”: If you paint in the middle of the countryside, with fields and only a few trees, the course of the sun should not be a major concern. If you are surrounded by mountains, hills or tall buildings, how long will you have before they block-out the sun?