Suffering from Raynauds makes it impossible for me to paint outdoors when the weather is even slightly chilly, so as soon as the sun appears it's time to pack up the paints and easel and get into the fresh air. Painting outdoors brings it's own set of challenges, not least of all easels that blow over in the wind, supports that fall face down onto the ground when the paints still wet, that colour that matches that sky perfectly that you forgot to pack, and setting everything up in the perfect spot, and then realising you need the loo - like NOW and the nearest one is a mile down that track you just hiked up with all your gear! Despite these challenges there really is nothing like painting in front of the subject while the light, weather (and sometimes the subject itself if like me you paint animals) changes in an instant. You have to put a line in the sand, but also be adaptable, but not to the point of ending up with a painting that doesn't make sense!
When I entered The Buxton Spa Prize last year (2015) it was my first attempt at painting outdoors since The Big Painting Challenge. Whilst I knew what to take, I wasn't prepared for the weather! Buxton has it's own microclimate and all four seasons were thrown at me in one day! I positioned myself in a field on Harpur Hill, a similar spot to where Haidee-Jo Summers painted the previous year (no pressure then!). It rained (take a brolly), the sun burned me (take sun cream). the wind was bonkers! (take a coat) and it was cold (layers...always wear layers!). My painting of that day reflected (I hope) my experience.
I was also lucky enough to go on holiday to the mediteranean and filled a little sketchbook with pen and wash, and watercolour sketches. Whilst none of them were what I consider amazing, each and every little sketch envokes happy memories, aromas, sounds and colours and is a fantastic catalyst for a successful studio painting.
If you've never tried painting outdoors, I urge you to grab a folding stool, a sketchbook and pencils, markers or paints, a flask of tea or coffee and just sit and look, listen and breath. Food for the soul...there really is nothing like it!