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I really need to start doing some painting from life of landscapes and outdoor scenery to get a better grasp of light and color. I know that nothing beats painting from life, so it's time to get outdoors. I've tried to look up info on plein air oil painting and have looked through some of the threads about it/outdoor painting on the forums here as well, but all the equipment and supplies needed to set up for it seem really expensive and difficult to carry around. I unfortunately don't have hundreds of dollars to spare buying easels/pochade boxes/tripods, and I also live in a country where traveling anywhere to paint means lugging everything around with me on crowded public transportation for extended periods of time, which rules out a lot of equipment.
Is there a reason that I can't do watercolour painting instead of oil painting if I'm going outside to paint for the sake of studying? It seems like bringing everything needed to paint in watercolours outdoors is a lot cheaper and easier to carry around and maybe wouldn't even require buying things I don't already have, but I only ever see people posting about doing oil painting outside. I get the impression that I must be missing something if I don't use oils outdoors, or that watercolours are somehow inferior--otherwise I'd see just as many people posting about painting with them rather than oils for practice, right? Is that the case? If so, what am I missing out on/why is it best to use oils?
If it's imperative that it's oils or bust, is there a poor man's way to git-er-done? I don't mind if I can only do really tiny paintings or I'm limited in what I can do or things don't go as well as if I had the proper supplies, as long as I can find a way to at least get out and do it.
Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated!
(Before you tell me supplies really aren't that expensive and I should be able to afford them all, please keep in mind that the price of art supplies in your country=/= prices in my country)
watercolour is not comparable to oils. they are very different disciplines and work in very different ways. by all means go for watercolour, it's certainly easier for portability, but it won't help you with oil painting at all.
i have made some decent size oil stuff outside. but only in walking distance of my home base. it's easy to walk out, much harder to walk back trying not to let the wind slap you with your own wet painting. i have a £20 easel, a plank of wood covered in PVA for a palette, and a plastic toolbox for my tubes and turps etc. i'm sure none of those things are especially expensive in any country.
With a little ingenuity you can make a pochade box from a wooden cigar box which you can get for around 10 bucks
The one I made has cork on the inside of the lid that I can pin paper or canvas to with pushpins. It has a plastic palette and underneath the palette I have paints and brushes and razor blade scraper. I put this in a backpack with a roll of paper towels and a brush washer with mineral spirits.
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I'm sure it's something you get used to eventually, but I've had a tough time getting used to using watercolors outside, because their behaviors varies so much based on temperature and humidity. One day they'd be drying almost instantly on the page and I didn't have the chance to blend them like I expected to, the next they'd seemingly never dry and I had no way of adding details.
Watercolors are fine for outdoor painting. The reason many people don't use them is they are much, much more difficult than oils. Being a transparent media they are not very forgiving - you have to really have your chops down to use them. So yeah, for beginners they add quite a bit of difficulty to the learning curve.
I don't mean to derail or take over or anything, but does anyone have any info or images of alla prima water-color painting? Whenever I try to do them, I always run into the issues of having to use a lot of dry, choppy strokes, or, if I use washes, having the paper be wet too long for me to be able to do anything other than washes (or incredibly bleedy brush strokes).
I use thin washes of ocher or cerulean depending on the scene, to draw the image first no pencil at all, then I build up my color, light to dark careful to preserve the white of the paper for my lightest lights. You need good paper 140 lb paper is the minimum weight I use. 300 lb is better.
You can start out whatever way seems reasonable to you and buy or build stuff as you discover problems that you need to solve. Don't create problems for yourself before you've even gone out once.
When I first decided to do some painting outside I took my regular paints, a field easel and a plastic bucket out into my backyard. After that I had a better idea of what I would need to carry with me and what I needed to change about my process. Try painting outside your building or on your balcony or in a nearby park and see what works and what doesn't. Then if you realize you need something you can just run back home to get it. (Bring a camera with you, then you can take a reference photo and finish the painting at home if something goes wrong. Take the reference photo first, or take several as you're painting in case something changes.)
Thanks for all the input, guys! I'm not sure why one of you thought that I want to practice watercolours to get better at oil painting or that I said that I think they're virtually the same, but everyone else had good advice/information! I think I'll go ahead and try heading out with watercolours for now and see how that goes. I actually feel much more comfortable with watercolours than oils, so I think it'll allow me to focus a little better, too.