Here's Melanie Leavit's tips for winter plein air painting!
"- Tip- I mix Gamblin Solvent Free Gel into my paint to help with the cold and prevent paint from stiffening up.
Tip- Don’t leave paints in car overnight for plein air painting in winter. They are easier to squeeze out when they are warm!
-Tip- It is important to dress in layers when plein air painting in the winter. I wear a thin base layer on top and then a fleece lined wool sweater. I put on a heavy ski coat. For bottoms I have a thin base layer, fleece pants over and then larger mens snow pants that I can easily slip over boots and roll up. I wear heavy wool socks and warm boots. I slip in foot warmers before I start painting if it is going to be cold. For hands I use a pair of disposable gloves and then put a pair of cheap thin gloves over. Then over that I put on a pair of fingerless wool gloves with hand warmers in between layers. keeping your hands and feet warm is key. I stand on a large pink bathmat and it really helps my feet stay warm. I also wear a neck warmer and on really cold days wearing a face masks helps too! I open up the back of my car and stand under that when I can.
Tip- I purchased a car easel and its awesome. It sit in the passenger seat and it leans up against the dash. On really cold days I paint from my car!
Breakthrough- I feel like I am painting quicker and getting the information down in a looser more direct way. I have also been concentrating on painting structures on location which is challenging but getting easier. Being outside helps you see the real colors of shadows and light. You can’t get that in photos."
Thoughts from Debbie Mueller
"One of my hacks Is how I store my paint. I use the “palette garage”- it’s an L-shaped piece of plastic where you squeeze out your piles of paint that sits at the edge of my glass palette. When I am done with a painting session, the L-shaped strip of plastic goes into a tube where the ends are corked with a plastic piece that has a piece of felt attached to it, to which you add some clove oil. This keeps the paint from drying out in between sessions, and once I’ve put the pallet garage away, I am merely need to scrape off the mixing piles of paint and wipe down the pallet with a paper towel and I am ready for the next day.
My next advice is to not get too ambitious. A simple subject can create a pleasing painting and especially if you are trying to create a different painting each day, biting off more than you can chew will not feel good. Last year, I tried to do a painting of several eggs on a plate in front of a chrome toaster on a heavily patterned dishtowel. I should have realized that the toaster literally doubled the number of items that I had to paint because of all those reflections. I ended up wiping down a good portion of the painting and swapping out the patterned discharge all for some thing plain.
I think the greatest challenge of painting every single day is just doing it, and if you don’t live alone that can require the support and cooperation of the other people that you live with. I think it helps them to know that it’s just for a month but showing your gratitude to them for putting up with your painting practice goes a long way.
As far as benefits, I don’t think it’s possible for a person to paint from life every day for 31 days and not see a substantial increase in their abilities. It’s remarkable to me as I look at my own work, to see the quality of my paintings improve. I have developed much more consistency and my “clunker to keeper ratio” seems to be improving!"
Sierra Fenton had this to say about working with two young children.
And last but not least is Lisa Mistiuk who chose to do self portraits for most of the month which were fabulous!