First steps with plein air
Check out Peter Chan’s outdoors kit.
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.