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Plein Air painting in sunlight, artists tip. Why is my painting so dark? Find out why now!

When you start out plein air painting you can find problems seeing the correct tones in a painting. This is especially difficult when your canvas or paper is in the sun. The sun will make your painting look a lot brighter than it actually is. It is surprising how dramatic the effect can be! See the example below:

Its a real shock taking a painting done in the direct sunlight indoors. It can catch out experienced artists as well as the less experienced.
A way around this is to make sure your canvas is in the shade and not just your canvas but your palette as well!  Another solution is to invest in an umbrella that filters out some of the sun, shading your work.

The real essence of the problem is Judging tones correctly. Before starting a painting it is worth doing a pencil sketch to separate out the tonal areas, identifying your darkest dark and your lightest light. And of course remember Tip 1: Squint, you need to see the main areas of the painting simplified, this is achieved best through squinting as it helps you knock out the details and see the progression from the foreground to the receding background.


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