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2023 Keith Demanche 1-Day Plein Air Workshop

We will spend the first hour discussing the ins and outs of painting 'en plein air', or painting outside. We will go over what to bring with you and more importantly, what not to bring, how to choose a location, choose a palette for success, necessary tools and tips from an experienced outdoor painter. A material list and a tip sheet will be provided before the first class so everyone can be prepared.

After a break we will take the class outside to find a spot, set up our easels and try painting on location. This workshop is for beginners or working artists who are curious about painting out in nature. I will give advice to get everyone comfortable setting up and what to look for while painting plein air. Bring your sense of adventure!


Dates: Sunday September 17

Rain date: Sunday September 24

Hours: 9:30am – 4:30pm

Location: Fort Stark State Park, 211 Wildrose Lane, New Castle, NH 03854

Fee Structure:

PSNH Members $110 until September 4th, 2023


After September 4th ... all registrants $125

All payments are via Paypal in the PSNH Store.

There will be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 10 participants for this workshop.

Cancellation Policy: Full refund if your slot can be filled from the wait list. If no replacement is found, on or within 30 days to the workshop, fees will be half refunded. In the event an attendee has a documented medical emergency within 30 days before the workshop, the fee, less the $25.00 service charge will be applied towards a future PSNH workshop. Should the workshop presenter or PSNH cancel, a full refund will be provided to attendees.

Learning to Paint Outside


Keith Demanche

@kdemanche on Instagram

In my work I hope to show others what I see, the natural places of quiet hope in man’s chaotic world. When out painting plein air, I find the interaction of man and nature captivating - those sometimes dreary intersections of wildness and urban sprawl often reveal a lot about how I see the world. There is always a push and pull I want to capture. There is no place better than at my easel on a riverbend or in a parking lot to find a little corner that speaks to me.


I began painting like a lot artists do — after not finding the creative outlet I needed in design and illustration. I helped start two weekly newspapers and worked digitally in Photoshop, Illustrator, etc., and I always found I wanted more realistic textures and exciting marks than the computer could offer. So I started making my own marks and fields of colors to incorporate into my digital images.


One project after another, one class at a time - from MassArt to three or four day workshops - I found that I really loved the tactile give and take of finding solutions that sing and not just a compilation of marks and strokes. I finally realized I actually wanted to be a painter.


Pastels fit my style perfectly. I love to capture a moment en plein air without hesitation and pastel’s forgiving nature and immediacy really let me get what I want from a given location.

Tips for painting En Plein Air      (Download this info as a PDF)

• Bring only what you can carry comfortably. A backpack allows you to carry everything while keeping hands free. You should not bring so much that both hands are carrying goods – that is a recipe for injury if you should trip. • The least amount of stuff is important, even if you are walking only a short distance. It makes the set up/take down time faster, which means more painting time and less hassle.

• Tell someone where you are going and when you will be returning. Or paint with one or more others. This will be more fun anyway.

• Plan on no more than 3-4 hours. Too long of a time can often just be tiring and the light will have changed so much in that time you won’t be making the same painting anymore. I often only paint for about an hour on one piece and start a second painting.

• Get the best light. Painting first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon are best for getting exciting light… but be warned, the light changes VERY fast. The more toward noon, the slower the light changes.

• Take a few minutes to find a view that inspires you, don’t rush into painting. When arriving at a location to paint, let the area soak in for a few minutes. Once decided, try turning around and check out what is behind you – I don’t know why, but often you’ll be amazed at what you missed.

• Always take a photo of the scene you are painting for reference. Especially when the scene inspires you. In some locations the sun might only light up an area for a few minutes, so having a photo will be invaluable. But also take photos of anything that catches your eye, you never know what will spark your interest will later.

• Sketching a scene out ahead of time can be helpful. Once you are more comfortable with plein air, try getting to a location ahead of the time you want to catch a certain light (dawn, dusk, sunset, etc) lay out the painting structure and block in the areas so you are ready to paint the light as it comes into the perfect timing.

• Easy parking. When finding a location for painting, if possible, find a place that is not too far of a walk to your view. Less than half a mile is best. A nearby restroom is always a plus.

• Find a shady spot to paint from. This will make for a more comfortable time. But be aware the sun will shift while you paint.

• Keep the surface of your painting out of direct sunlight. Try to keep your surface and the paints/palette in the same light. Colors will look very different in sun and shade. Another option is to have an umbrella shade your set up.

• Wearing a hat with a brim is also a good idea so you don’t get glare in your eyes. But don’t wear sunglasses! Obviously, this will affect your color choices! If you have transition glasses, try to find an option for plein air.

• Make your plein air painting more about how the location FEELS than technical accuracy. Paint freely and focus on what inspires you about the place you are in. Don’t focus on making something perfect, capture the mood. This is why you are outside! To smell the air, to feel the wind, to hear the trees rustle. Don’t’ focus on all the details. You can always tidy up a piece later, if desired. Often, plein air paintings can be a study for a larger/more in-depth studio painting.

• Enjoy the outdoors! Take advantage of being in nature and relax.

• Be warned that you might get hooked! After painting outside for a while, it becomes harder to paint in the studio.

Plein Air What to Bring List  (Download this list as a PDF)

ART Related
Tripod easel

Backing board/mounted paper

Palette/pastel box/paint tubes or blocks

Paper or Canvas Brushes (one large, one small, or as few as possible)

Pencil or sketching pen


Small sketch pad (5x7 or smaller – fewer pages = less weight)

Masking tape

Paper Towels (just a few - don’t need a whole roll)

Water container or alcohol spray (for painting)

General Use


Leatherman tool

Bug spray (with DEET for ticks)


Water bottle (for drinking)

Supermarket (or other small) Trash bag

Bungee cord

Travel First Aid Kit

Dress for Success

Hat (preferably with a brim)

Good boots or shoes

Dress in Layers

Fingerless gloves in cold weather

Optional Upgrades


Travel size/camping folding chair

Umbrella/Sun shield

Personal fan

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To apply the member discount,

  • Add the workshop to your cart.

  • Click View Cart 

  • Under the Items in your cart is a sale tag icon by the words "Enter Discount Code"

  • Click on the words and a box will appear to enter the Member Disc Code.

  • Click apply

  • The appropriate amount will be removed from the total.  

  • Click Paypal Checkout. 

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