Tips for Artists – Plein air in Autumn

2021-11 autumn plein air painting in corralitos
Autumn plein air painting
Lay down values and color quickly

Painting outdoors while gazing at the scene to be captured requires the painter to lay down values and color quickly before the light changes. Mixing three values, on site, of the main color fields can help you keep color clean and have piles to work from as your painting progresses.  Establishing your dark pattern first, will maintain your design as the light shifts and shadows change.

Light changes as day passes along

As the autumn days get shorter, the sun shifts lower on the horizon. This effect can result in stronger light early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The trees on the hillside near my studio take on a gold cast as the afternoon progresses. This time of day is often referred to as “the golden hour”, an ideal time to grab your easel and paints and find a location to capture this effect.

Plein air painting on the California Coast
Michele painting at moss landing
Michele painting at moss landing
Just last week

Recently, painting in one of the Corralito’s vineyards, the gold vines were complemented by the violet clouds. Although an overcast day, with very little shadows, the color combination created a color complementary composition. (Wow, that’s a tongue twister!) It does seem that without the reflected light of a blue sky, the golds on the ground are brighter. I use Indian Yellow as an underpainting in these instances.


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