Tips for Drawing in the Wild

Landscape painting is one of the fundamentals of Australian art. With so much beautiful country to capture, it’s no wonder that some of Australia’s earliest and most influential artists were also landscape artists by trade. It’s here that you can capture some of the most fascinating visual features and representations of Australian life, just as much now as it was then. Here are a few tips to get more from your venture.

Tips for Drawing in the Wild


  • Think. With landscape and model drawing, you should have the idea of what you want to capture before you actually see it in real life. That may sound like a strange thing, especially when it’s also easy to get inspiration while you’re on the fly, but if you’re going to truly plan this out, you should consider what it is that would most inspire you at that particular time. Some artists prefer to work with cityscapes and urban areas, for example, where there’s a thriving nightlife, to show its positives and negatives. Others may prefer to draw running waters, or people living quiet, rural lives.
  • Sketch. Before you go out into the field, you should create a concept sketch. This can show you more about how you can frame the drawing itself, which perspectives will work best with what you want to draw, and how you can create a piece that you will be satisfied with. The level of detail that you add in at this step can be determined by how exact, or improvised, you want the actual drawing to be. Some artists work well with a heavy amount of preparation, down to the most minute details, while others thrive “on the spot.”
Tips for Drawing in the Wild


  • Photograph. Set up a photo shoot if you plan to use a model for a “plein air” style painting, or take a picture if you want to draw the scenery, but either way, a photograph with a mid-range camera can give you a much better frame of reference, especially if you want to draw a scene that has a limited window of opportunity, such as a sunrise or sunset. Even if you plan to do more detailed sketches once at the scene you want to pain, the photograph is a very nice resource. Consider taking multiple perspectives of the figure or area as well, to give yourself a better understanding of how the lighting works, or even the natural motions of the wind.
  • Draw, and re-draw. You will then go back to your original sketch as inspiration, but likely not as your base, unless you are psychic. You can draw while you are on the scene, and in fact likely should draw out what you see right then and there, but to add important details, including texturing and shading, the photographic reference will be immensely helpful; this is especially true if you are drawing a living person, because they likely won’t be able to pose for you all day.