First steps with plein air

Check out Peter Chan’s out­doors kit.

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents -

Paint­ing from ob­ser­va­tion with tra­di­tional me­dia is one of the best ways to study and im­prove your sense of colour and light. Af­ter 10 years of work­ing in the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try mostly with dig­i­tal tools, I de­cided to re­visit this pas­sion of mine and be­gan paint­ing out­doors once a week, ei­ther in the morning or dur­ing my lunch break. This not only rein­vig­o­rated my pas­sion for paint­ing, but also helped tremen­dously with my colour work pro­fes­sion­ally.

Oil paint was al­ways my go-to medium, but it’s not the most con­ve­nient setup to bring to work. So af­ter do­ing some re­search, I de­cided to take up gouache, and re­ally fell in love with it. The medium comes in a va­ri­ety of vi­brant colours; it’s very flex­i­ble in its ap­pli­ca­tion in terms of paint­ing thick like oils as well as wet like wa­ter­colours; and also can be pre­pared and cleaned eas­ily, mak­ing it the per­fect medium for plein-air paint­ing.

The tools re­quired to use gouache are also rel­a­tively sim­ple and com­pact, which is per­fect for any­one who wants to go out for quick stud­ies in any breaks that come up in a busy work sched­ule. It’s been four years since I took up this weekly gouache paint­ing rou­tine and I still be­come ex­cited by the beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral sub­ject mat­ter around me, which is a great coun­ter­bal­ance to the imag­i­nary work that I do for the an­i­ma­tion stu­dio. It’s also the per­fect ex­cuse to get away from work­ing on the com­puter.

Peter is orig­i­nally from Tai­wan, but now lives in Los Angeles where he works at Sony Pic­tures An­i­ma­tion. Pre­vi­ously he was at Pan­demic Stu­dios as a con­cept artist, and at DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion where he was a visual de­vel­oper. You can see more of his work on his blog, www.pix­elp.tum­blr.com.

Get paint­ing out­side

Work­ing small in a sketch­book is less in­tim­i­dat­ing, and gets the mo­men­tum go­ing. Hold the paint box by hand so the colours don’t flow into each other. A fold-out ta­ble is a great and af­ford­able op­tion for paint­ing in re­mote ar­eas. Roll up your brushes in the bam­boo matt to pro­tect and or­gan­ise them.

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