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Woodbridge, Suffolk, is a perfect location for painters. It has lots of views both in town and along the river. On the Deben riverside there are convenient benches , cafes and great car parking with lots to choose from. The station car park was £3 for the whole day and is only a very short walk (over the railway bridge) to some great views of the river Deben.

Painting kit…
Despite being only a short walk from the station carpark I found climbing the bridge with my Mabef Pochade box (full of paint and 2 canvas boards) bloody heavy. I am going off this pochade for two reasons:
1. Its heavy, you have to carry a tripod with it and sometimes a stool
2. If you have large boobs the palette shelf is really annoyingly in the way of painting!

The painting experience…
The light was fantastic. We were very lucky to have a sunny February morning with residual mist that tinged everything with a warm glow rather than the receding blues we are taught to paint to show distance. If you take a photo from a camera into the sun you will find that the colours are quite harsh with dark silhouettes and lots of blue-grey light, well at least that is what my phone took a picture of! My eyes saw something else though and I painted what I saw not what I was taught to see. The boats in the foreground had a range of colours in the shadow and the far distance was not cold at but had a honey tinge. This is why painting outside direct from the landscape (plein air as its called) is so valuable. If you paint from a photograph you will miss out all the colours that the human eye can pick out.

One other thing I regreted (apart from my kit)…
I painted my canvas with a burnt sienna background the night before going to Woodbridge. I think it has dulled down the light on the left of the canvas. I think next time I will take some acryllics with me and paint the colour backgound according to the scene. Acrylic dries fast so shouldn’t slow me down unless the day is very wet/cold. I can then paint the oils over the top.

Positive: its great painting with a group

Its great to paint as a group, lots of chatter and free advice should you want it. All in all a great day at Woodbridge with the East Suffolk Plein Air Group. Visit East Suffolk Plein Air Painters Group facebook page for upcoming events.

The same view as the painting taken with my mobile phone (the tide has come in a bit further!). Notice how the colours are lost to an overall blue/black bias

Learning Tips for Artists

  • Don’t necessarily paint what you are taught to paint – paint what you see
  • Beware of preparing canvas with dark ground
  • Plein Air kit select something not too heavy