Russell Johnson plein air oil painter

Plein Air Oil Painting

Painting outdoors, on location, is called painting Plein Air. This is not as easy as it looks. It is lots of fun! Getting outside and painting what you see right in front of you is exhilarating and challenging. The challenge is the weather, the changing light, bugs, and choosing what to paint. In a photograph, we can easily choose to simplify the subject. Whereas in person, there is so much detail and so many interesting things that catches the eye. After applying for different plein air artist events and not getting accepted, I decided to challenge myself to immerse myself in it this summer. I haven’t worked in my studio since May and am enjoying my mobile easel and set up a studio on location, the biggest studio around! This isn’t my first time painting plein air, I’ve done it for many years, but mostly when I’m on vacation. Typically, when my weekly painting day arrives, I just want to paint, not figure out where to go and pack up my gear… I just need to start painting. In the summer, the best light here in the Southwest is before 8am, so I am starting to paint at about 6:30 and finishing up by 8:30 or 9:00. Sometimes, I finish the painting back at my home studio and other times I feel like the painting is done and captures the sense of place I was going for. I’m using Gamblin oils, which are wonderfully thick for my impressionist style. I also will use Holbein AquaDuo paints, a water soluble option great for easy clean up. I usually use the AquaDuo paints on road trips or when longer hiking is required, along with my 9×12 pochade box. The closer to home trips I’m using a clever set up with extruded aluminum and positional brackets for bigger painting panels. I leave the painting attached and take it home in my car. Otherwise, the pochade box has a way to keep wet paintings safe on the lid of the box. Both systems attach to a tripod, easy to set up and break down. Here are the paintings created so far this summer. I’m having a lot of fun!

Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Painting Plein Air at Watson Woods, a 13×14 inch
Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Morning sun on my painting palette
Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Plein Air painting in the Granite Dells, 9×20 inches
Plein air painting on the south rim of the Grand Canyon at Shoshone Point, 9×12 inches
Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Painting a summer cabin on a sunny day in northern Minnesota, 9×12 inches
Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Plein Air painting birch trees in Minnesota, 9×12 in.
Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Painting a summer cabin in northern Minnesota, 9×12 in.
Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Painting young aspen trees in the Prescott National Forest, 18×22 inches
Russell Johnson plein air oil painter
Plein Air Painting big Cottonwoods at Fain Park, 11×13 inches

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