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Painting Spring Primroses ‘en Plein air’

I just adore these vibrant yellow Primroses which are little rays of sunshine heralding spring.

These primroses are growing wild in my garden, so a perfect spot to start form.

If you are keen to start ‘Plein air’ then I recommend starting with a small focussed scene in your garden, or just a pot plant, placed in half-light outdoors so that you can really focus on shapes, colours, warm and cool light and the colour of the shadows, without too much complicated scene going on to distract you.

One mistake I made here, was to paint in the bright mid-day light. This is just my impulsivity, and my lack of time flexibility between lessons to paint. It is better to have your panting in the shade and to avoid painting in the glare of mid-day as this can skew your tonal values and make it very hard to see what you are doing.



  • I used Atelier Interactive paints and Atelier Interactive Unlock’ formula.
  • I started with a warm dark toned ground: Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber on MDF board; over double primed acrylic gesso,
  • First I blocked in the dark and light areas, using a large 1” flat to establish the main dark shapes.
  • The greens and dark greys in the background were all established before I painted the yellow Primroses over the top.



  • Then I identified edges of bright colour where the Primrose flowers caught the light. I worked form one petal to another, observing how the play of light changes the colour hue of each petal.
  • But, I had pre-mixed my Yellows before I started panting to speed up the process.
  • Light petals: Lemon Yellow (Daler Rowney System 3 paints) and Titanium White
  • Mid-tone petals: Cadmium Yellow and Titanium White and a spot of neutral mixed grey to cool down and darken.


  • The pink primroses were Cadmium Red and Ochre added to the Yellow mix. Some of the petals in the shade had Burnt sienna added in and a touch of the grey.
  • I stumbled some of the warm dark colour into the background to suggest the warm light and to unify the painting.
  • Best not to fiddle too much once you think you are done: Plain air should be kept fresh and embrace the moment, so I will leave it there.


Thanks for reading and please Tune in for more en Plein air painting adventures next week.


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