Sunday 28 January 2018

#290 Tower Bridge 10x12" & Preparing for a Days Painting

The sky was beautiful when I arrived a typical English with cloud fluffies and crisp blue behind them. I was lucky as by the time I'd painted the sky it had clouded over and it was mainly grey! So different and not as magical.

I thought it maybe helpful & or interesting to read what I do to prepare before a days painting especially in a big city....

Weather forecast Check for rain & wind. Sun & cloud was due so perfect! How windy? - Gusts up to 30mph = cold and need winter tripod & layers.

Research on google other peoples paintings of this area eg 'Tower Bridge plein air paintings'. And ask questions of myself 'what do I like, what compositions work well and formats'...

Google Maps
Drop the man onto the map to see a photo of the view and whether it makes a good painting subject, also helps to work out board size shape..

Tube station check how far it is to walk - with all the gear! (or parking if I drive.)

Suncalc app on Android phone 
Put in any position on a map like Tower Bridge and see where the sun direction will shine onto your subject at anytime of the day. Great tool for working out your painting position.

Equipment pack my bag ready with boards, loading my palette garage with paint, pochade, tripod...gather my warm clothing.

Watch You Tube of plein air painting demos of people I admire e.g. I watched Lena Rivo a Portugese artist who is amazing! I love her work and and afterwards felt inspired geed up for my day in London.
Or Watch one of my painting DVD's for example a good one pre London is Ken Howards 'Variations on a Theme' as he is painting in London and it's good!

Intention Have ideas before you set out....That day I decided that I wanted to paint Tower Bridge, a bigger size than previously and with more colour, especially in the sky.

I want to get the most out of a painting day especially when I'm making an effort with the travel and carrying kit around.
Turning up at a location can be overwhelming and you just want to paint it, but to prepare beforehand helps give direction and goals and also allows for smoother travel time and generally more prepared on all fronts!!

Before I refined it

I got the painting home and was going to post it on here and Instagram but wasn't 100% about it. I knew it needed some work but it wasn't obvious what until I started on it - 
What I did...Darkened the water in the foreground, refined the boats and buildings. Happier now!


  1. So interesting to hear your prep for a day of painting en plein air. A complex subject but lovely depiction of sky, river and bridge. The small elements of boats and buildings add to the sense of being right there in London with you.

  2. Really interesting to read your posts re painting outside, and this one with info on pre painting prep is fascinating! Thanks for all the tips.Lovely painting too!