Cindy Briggs


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Why I Started Painting Outdoors

Why I Started Painting Outdoors

Why I Started Painting Outdoors

Do you know why I started painting outdoors?

About 25 years ago I went to Carmel-by-the-Sea to paint with my Aunt Ellie in one of her workshops. I discovered almost immediately the best things about painting outdoors.


1. You really see your subject.

While a photograph is nice, it distorts things, and the colors are not true in a photograph.


2. You have a “life” experience.

By actually painting on the location you use all your senses to paint and personally connect to your subject. You are creating a beautiful memory whether your painting turns out or not.


3. The colors you paint in your “study” are what you see and feel.

This on location painting is fresh and true. It can inspire you for larger studio painting.


4. You have 360 degrees of options.

Listen to your heart and paint what inspires you.


What is challenging about painting outdoors?

What is challenging about painting outdoors?

  • While it’s worth the struggle, you need to be prepared and simplify your supplies so you can carry it to your painting location, are comfortable and your tools are handy.
  • The sun is changing the light every 10 minutes so be sure to choose your time and stick with the light and shadows you see at that moment.
  • Your time is limited so you need to work faster. This can also loosen you up as you capture the essence of the scene instead of every detail.


Having just returned from the Plein Air Magazine Convention & Expo #PACE22 in New Mexico, I’m excited to share the adventure of just getting out and painting with other artists.

Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, it’s worth the experience every time. Each year I lead plein air workshops in Europe and often in the US and we do everything possible to make it a positive, comfortable experience.


Note: I use the same palette and brushes in my studio and en plein air (outdoor painting). An easel is not necessary. The easel you’ll see in some of my photos is the en Plein Air Pro, though I’m happy just sitting on a bench and just painting on my lap.


Video Painting at Ghost Ranch

Check out my Plein Air Painting—painting outdoors—at Ghost Ranch in the video below.

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