Plein Air Painting , my solution

Posted: 26/02/2015 in Uncategorized

Painting outdoors can be problematic in watercolour and the kit you need can be cumbersome. Also if you are like me and live in a hot country, this presents it’s own problems and forces you to paint in a drier way.

A solution I came up with recently whilst in Asia was to use pen and ink, and water !


I also came up with the smallest plein air kit in a tin box I have ever seen, which included :-

1 Paper on a lightweight board

2 A couple of Lami Pens

3 Graphite Pencil and Putty Rubber

4 A small water sprayer (I also used the top for my well)

5 A couple of small watercolour brushes

I intend to substitute the brushes and water container with one of those water filled brushes, but didn’t have them with me at the time.


The secret to painting in this way (and I painted in full sun on the beach) is to draw with the pen then quickly add some water where you want a softer edge. So hard edges were left on boat masts and buildings and softer edges for trees rocks and skies. Once the initial drawing is done, and has dried you simply then draw all the ‘sharp’ details on top. It worked a treat and the Lami ink I was using also turned green, very handy for landscapes. Once back with my watercolours I also added some colours for a line and wash look. The skies are best done later if you want some clouds, using a weak mix of ink and water.


Whilst in Asia, I was also introduced to something called a glass honey pen, and after much tracking down at Jatutak weekend market in Bangkok on our last day, I managed to buy a couple. Though these will be only used in the studio, as dropping them onto a pavement painting plein air would no doubt break them.


Here are a few more examples of the ones I did in Asia recently with my Lami Pens. I used the medium nib for the ‘darks’ and the thinner fine nib for the details.

1620490_10153151417608117_3758573431577444394_n10996172_10153151421093117_2981399884858760616_n11000530_10153151410953117_3208116155680426733_n11002630_10153151402913117_920670185101098079_n11021207_10153151413468117_1789329897881967919_nThis way of painting produced loose pen and inks, and allowed me to record the scenes tonally, and they had quite an oriental feel to them, unlike the very tight pen and inks I used to produce all those years ago. The actual process is very fast too. Most of these were done in about 20 minutes, with no sketching either. I just went straight into it with the pen.

I also came across a technique using bleach and ink, and have yet to try it…. more on that later.



  1. I think your travel kit is great! I have similar miniature one for watercolor travels. Love your drawings, they are elegant and beautiful!

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