Mammoth Memory

En Plein Air – If you do your art outdoors, you do it en plein air (in the open air)

(Pronounced ahn ple ner)

To remember what en plein air means use the following mnemonic:

She was on the plane and in the air (en plein air), she was certainly outside!

She was on the plane and in the air (en plein air), she was certainly outside!

En plein air translates to "in the open air" and simply means to do your artwork outside. There are no real rules for drawing outside, however, using an artists viewfinder can help you pick your scene and to draw it more accurately.

You can buy a reasonably inexpensive viewfinder, but we think making your own is much more fun and adds a personal touch when creating your work.

To do this you'll need some thick card, a pen, scissors or a scalpel, a ruler, sellotape and some thin string.

To do this you'll need some thick card, a pen, scissors or a scalpel, a ruler, sellotape and some thin string.

On your piece of card, draw a rectangle with the short sides at 12cm and the long sides at 18cm and put at mark at 3cm intervals on the outside of your rectangle. These will create 3cmx3cm squares when you stick on your string. 

On your piece of card, draw a rectangle with the short sides at 12cm and the long sides at 18cm and put at mark at 3cm intervals on the outside of your rectangle. These will create 3cmx3cm squares when you stick on your string.

Carefully use your scissors or scalpel to cut out the inside of the rectangle. 

Carefully use your scissors or scalpel to cut out the inside of the rectangle. 

Next, stick lengths of string to the card at the 3cm intervals, making sure to pull the string tight when sticking so it doesn't sag. 

Next, stick lengths of string to the card at the 3cm intervals, making sure to pull the string tight when sticking so it doesn't sag. 

Trim any excess card, leaving around a 5cm edge around the window.

Trim any excess card, leaving around a 5cm edge around the window.

Your viewfinder is now ready to take out on your artistic expeditions! 

To use your viewfinder, find a scene you want to draw and use your viewfinder to select the best section to focus on.

To use your viewfinder, find a scene you want to draw and use your viewfinder to select the best section to focus on.

Secure your viewfinder (there are many ways to do this, from clipping or sticking it to your easel to sticking a pole in the ground and clipping it to that).

Secure your viewfinder (there are many ways to do this, from clipping or sticking it to your easel to sticking a pole in the ground and clipping it to that).

Use the grid of strings as explained in the Mammoth Memory grid method to sketch out the basic form of the area you've chosen to draw.  

Use the grid of strings as explained in the Mammoth Memory grid method to sketch out the basic form of the area you've chosen to draw.  

Finally, use your chosen medium to finish your piece.

Finally, use your chosen medium to finish your piece.

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