I went to Costa Rica to visit my fiance’s family a couple of weeks ago. During part of my trip, I got to go to an all-inclusive resort called Riu in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. I brought some art stuff with me on the trip and thought I’d give plein air painting a try at the beautiful beach behind the resort!
What’s plein air painting? Well it basically just means open-air painting, or painting outside on the spot. It can have a lot of challenges that studio painting doesn’t have. Being that it can be in a public place, you might have people come up to you and ask questions about your art and your process.
You also have to deal with limited supplies and a limited color palette, adapt to the weather and elements of your workspace (for me this was sweltering sun and crazy wind gusts), and potentially get eaten by any surrounding bugs (my toe puffed up from what I assume were ant stings haha).
I prepared a mini art kit before we went so I could attempt to do some art on-the-go. For this little painting, I just used a few paint brushes (including a water brush), a micron pen, a portable watercolor palette, a tiny cup to hold my water, some water soluble wax pastels, and a spiral-bound watercolor paper book.
I really don’t know how long I was out there or how long it took me. I sort of lost track of time which was really relaxing. The experience was super positive and even though I was just sitting there, it still felt adventurous in a way. A number of people came up to engage me while I was working, asking me about my process and general art questions. Normally I paint in my dark little apartment, secluded away from the rest of the world , so it was a great change of workspace.
Now I’m building some portable plein air art kits for different mediums on the cheap using supplies from dollar stores and thrift stores. I hope to venture out into the city more often and try my hand at painting some of Seattle’s interesting architecture.
Have you ever done art outside or in public? It can be a little intimidating if people are around but it can be equally as fun and rewarding. Give it a try!