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Review of Paint Out Cambridge Monday 13th- Wednesday 15th May 2019.

25 – 30 artists painted locations around the Cambridge City Centre doing 3 hr morning and afternoon sessions. There was also an option to do a nocturne on Monday and Tuesday, however, this time of year it doesn’t really start getting darker until 9pm so most of the nocturns were more twighlight/daytime pieces.

Cambridge was a good location choice  – the variety of scenery included historic buildings, shops, market, fields with cows and river, the choice was really broad. The mix of professional plein air artists, semi -professional/amateurs and some first timers worked well and there was a feeling of camraderie raher than competition. I was one of the first timers at Paint Out – I have painted plein air before but it was a new experience having a 3hr time limit. I was not sure how I would handle the time constraint. My first 2 paintings on the first day weren’t that great I needed to settle but the 2nd and 3rd days were much better and I found the 3hrs just about enough time to finish a canvas. n.b. i was working in oils on 30cmx24cm canvas boards. I do not think I could have gone larger and completed the canvas.

Useful learning tips from doing Paint Out

1. What kit to choose for plein air painting

You have to prethink how to carry everything you need to paint easily and transport your canvas – especially if using oils which stay wet!.  I notice that other artists were using a variety of  kit. e.g.  Robert Nelmes (winner oils category) had a pouchade box and tripod, Andrew Horrod (winner acrylics) had a portable wood easel. Eloise O’Hare who does lovely large pen, ink and wash drawings took a table desktop easel and chair! She transported everything using a bicycle and trailer.

So the answer to “what kit to choose” is largely reliant on: how big you are painting, the medium you are using and how strong you are at carrying!
Read more about Painting Kit on my Tips for Artists page.

2. Test your kit before the day

I did this but obviously not thoroughly enough!
My kit was a Mabef Pouchade Box (containing all the oil paint I needed and 2 x 24cm by 30cm canvas boards), light weight tripod and bag of extras e.g. paper towels, hat, sun cream, wet wipes, plastic bag for rubbish, sandwiches and water. I hate standing for long periods and the Mabef is heavy (see tips for artists). So  I found a Breva shopping trolley with seat on Amazon. Once assembled it had a wobbly wheel but seemed okay the first day I used it. Come Paint Out Day 1 this happened in the Park and ride car park!

Equipment failure Plein air painting

The wheel would not stay on at all no matter what I did (and passers by helping too). So luckily I had my scarfe and a large Aldi carrier bag.
I strapped the tripod to the Mabef with scarf and hung over my shoulder then put all other clobber in the large Aldi Bag. So I have now added a scarf  an extra large carrier bag as essentil kit.

3. Underpainting with acrylic to save time

I discovered this after the first day. Drying time is an issue with oils and I am working alla prima (wet on wet) with a 3hr time constraint. I found I needed to work out my composition using acrylic paint, (I don’t actually draw the composition but I paint in my darks and mid tones). This was hugely useful as it dried quickly and was not picked up by the oil paint as I went over it – this stopped the oils from getting muddy. It worked great for my painting of David’s Hat Stall at the Cambridge Market.