What is Plein Air Painting?

Have you ever painted outdoors? Then you’ve practiced plein air painting. It’s full name, en plein air, means “in the open air,” and it’s essentially the act of painting while outside (or, in the open air). Read on to find out more:

The history of en plein airWhat is Plein Air Painting

People have been painting outside for generations. In fact, some of the very first paintings were painted outside. However, the term en plein air wasn’t coined until the 1800s when painting outdoors became truly popular. This is due to a lot of reasons, the main ones being an expanding middle class, and the increasing relevance of particular art movements such as the Barbizon school, the Hudson River School, and the Impressionists. Additionally, with the invention of metal paint tubes in the mid-19th century, painting materials were cheaper and easier to acquire than they were in years past, making painting a much more accessible hobby to more and more people.

Notable plein air painters

Many famous painters throughout history are considered plein air painters. Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pierre-August Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and more all practiced en plein air. The Impressionists, the Barbizon school, and the Hudson River School were also highly involved in plein air painting because they believed in emphasizing natural light in their paintings.

Plein air painting in the modern day

Plein air painting is experiencing a bit of a renaissance in the modern day. Increasingly, artists of all levels are getting together for excursions and/or workshops dedicated to the craft. From cities to farms, buildings to landscapes, modern plein air painters are realizing how enjoyable it is to sit and capture the outside world.

If you’re interested in experiencing the joys of painting outdoors, then be sure to check out the plein air workshops available at Creative Ventures Gallery. Have further questions about plein air painting? Then give us a call at 603-672-2500.

Watercolor Painting Tips for Beginners

Watercolor painting can seem like daunting work, especially for beginners. While playful, watercolors can also be hard to control and unforgivable with mistakes, two things that don’t mix well with beginners. However, there are ways to master this tricky medium.

In the past, we’ve taught you some acrylic painting tips. So now, here are some watercolor painting tips to get you started on improving your artwork.

Use the right materialsWatercolor Painting Tips for Beginners

Using the right materials will go a long way in improving your watercolor artwork. For instance, you should be using only watercolor paper, as this paper is made specifically for watercolors so that it absorbs moisture in the right ways. You should also focus on your brushes. You don’t need a huge assortment, but you should have some of the basics—a small, medium, and large round brush, a mop brush, and a flat brush.

Paint light colors first, then dark

Because watercolors are unforgiving to mistakes, you’ll want to work backwards. That is, you should paint your light colors first, and then your dark. This is because dark colors are harder to correct than light. Another reason is because due to the transparency of watercolors, light colors won’t show when painted over dark colors.

Don’t add too much water, or too little

Yes, these are watercolors, but that doesn’t mean your paint should be overloaded with water. You also don’t want to deprive your paints of color. What you want is a happy medium of water and paint. There’s no clear-cut way to doing this, as you’ll want different ratios of water and paint for each color, so the best way is through experimentation. Keep some scrap paper around and then, after mixing the water and paint, test out the color before adding it to your canvas.

Use the side of your brush

Due to the abrasiveness of watercolor paper, constantly using the tip of your brush could ruin your brush over time. So, in order to better preserve your brushes, paint with the side of your brush instead of the tip.

Mastering watercolors can be difficult, especially if you’re working on your own. If you find you’re practicing these tips, but still not finding results, then it may be time to sign up for a watercolor painting class. At Creative Ventures Gallery, we offer several watercolor painting classes. Sign up today or give us a call at 603-672-2500 for more information.

How to Find Artistic Inspiration

Writers have to overcome writer’s block; artists, on the other hand, have to deal with artist’s block. It’s essentially the same thing, but instead of struggling to put words on a page, artists struggle to put paint onto the canvas. It happens to everybody, even the most seasoned artists, but thankfully there are ways to find some inspiration once again:

Go for a walkHow to Find Artistic Inspiration

Staring at a blank canvas isn’t going to help you create anything. In fact, it’s better just to get up and get away from the canvas for a little while. Getting some fresh air outside is a great way to take a break and find some inspiration. Listen to some music, a podcast, or simply let your mind wander as you take in the scenery.

Start doodling

When you’re all out of artistic inspiration, one of the best ways to get back into the swing of things is to pull out a pencil and some paper and start doodling. It doesn’t have to be anything particular, it can even be just some stick figures if that’s all you can muster, but as you doodle, your mind will wander and explore new opportunities for your creative projects.

Try a new art technique

You may be lacking inspiration because you’ve been doing the same thing for too long. Try to spice it up a little bit by working with new techniques or ideas. For example, if you’ve only worked in acrylic, take a swing at pastels and see where that takes you.

Just do it

When all else fails, just create. It doesn’t have to be good but putting something down onto the canvas will help get you out of the rut. Plus, in many cases, a lack of inspiration stems from a lack of self-confidence, so by putting your self-criticism away and allowing yourself to paint anything, even if it’s terrible, you will be free to create whatever you can.

Take an art class

If you’re still feeling uninspired, a great way to spark your creativity is to take an art class. This will not only teach you new techniques to try, but it will also provide you with a group of like-minded individuals who can help you get out of this rut. So if you’re in the Milford, New Hampshire area, contact Creative Ventures Gallery or look through our available classes and workshops to see how we can help you find your artistic inspiration.

Acrylic Painting Tips for Beginners

If you’re just stepping into the world of painting, acrylic painting is a great place to start. Thanks to its versatility, you can paint on practically any surface (as long as it doesn’t contain wax or oil), and thanks to its forgiving nature, it’s easy to cover up any mistakes. However, like with all forms of art, there are some tricks to mastering the craft.

Use synthetic brushesAcrylic Painting Tips for Beginners

There are, of course, plenty of other options to choose from when it comes to acrylic, but synthetic materials such as nylon are really the best choice. There are also different sizes, textures, and flexibilities, but these choices will all depend on what and how you’re painting. For example, grab a stiff synthetic brush if you’re working with thick paint, and a soft brush if you’re working with thinner paint.

Keep the paint wet

As a beginner, you’ll likely work slower than a more experienced painter. If you’re not careful, then, you could be working on a specific area only to realize that the paint you’re using has dried out. There are two ways to avoid this. The first is to work on larger areas/shapes first, and to work on them quickly with a large brush. The second is to have a plant mister on hand to spray the paint on your palette (yes, you should be using a palette) to keep them wet.

Take care of your brushes

If you’re not using a specific brush, place it in water so the paint doesn’t dry in them. Once you’re done painting for the day, you should clean your brushes right away. You can use regular soap and water, just be sure to get to the base of the bristles and then rinse and dry them well. Then lie them flat to dry, checking to make sure that you’ve cleaned out every bit of paint you can find.

If you’re still a bit lost on how to paint with acrylics, then the best way to get started is to take an acrylic painting class. At Creative Venture Gallery, we offer several acrylic painting classes for all levels. We even have one that’s dedicated to beginner acrylic painters, so sign up today to get started!

Why Your Child Should Attend Summer Art Camp

When summer rolls around, you want to make sure that your child doesn’t spend it just sitting on the coach playing video games. Instead, enroll them in a summer art camp where they can learn all sorts of skills and meet all sorts of people. Here are a few reasons why they should sign up:

It’s great for beginnersWhy Your Child Should Attend Summer Art Camp

If your child has been interested in art, summer art camp is a great place to start. They’ll be learning from some of the best teachers around, with all of the tools and materials they need at their fingertips.

Art inspires creativity

Putting a pencil or paint brush in your child’s hand can lead to all sorts of benefits. Art inspires creativity, and that creativity will not only lead to beautiful works of art, but greater empathy, social skills, and problem-solving skills. It can even help our mental health, no matter your age.

There’s something for everyone

Summer art camp is not a one-size-fits-all camp; there are plenty of different forms of art for your child to practice. Maybe they love painting nature scenes, or maybe they enjoy scribbling with colored markers; either way, there are certainly lots of options for them to choose from.

Meet new friends

One of the best things about any kind of summer camp is the ability for your child to meet new people and make new friends. With like-minded, art-loving people all around, your child is bound to form long-lasting friendships.

If you’re in the Milford, New Hampshire area and looking for a summer art camp for your child, then take a look at Creative Ventures Gallery’s Summer Art Camps. We offer two camps—Art Inspirations and Painting and Drawing from Nature—which we’re sure will spur on your child’s creative streak.

How Art Can Help Your Mental Health

It’s no secret that in recent years, mental health conditions have been rising across the U.S., especially among youths. What’s even more unsettling, is that most Americans with mental health conditions don’t receive adequate care. But what if we told you there was a way to help? Recent studies have suggested that one of the best forms of therapy for those struggling with a mental health condition is, in fact, art. Here’s how:

Emotional releaseHow Art Can Help Your Mental Health

Sometimes emotions can’t be put into words, and when you’re unable to express yourself, it can lead to a lot of pent-up anxiety and stress. Art, however, provides you an outlet without words, allowing you to express and let go of all of your feelings, fears, and insecurities.

Stress relief

Painting, drawing, and other forms of art will not only release pent-up emotions, but also give you a break from your anxious thoughts. Art forces you to focus on the task at hand, the present moment, and in that way it’s very similar to a meditation practice. Everyone needs a break, after all, and your mind is no different.

Self-esteem builder

Creating something with your own hands is a rewarding experience that few can describe. And, if you keep completing projects, you’ll be able to watch your progress as you turn from novice to expert. The process will give you a feel of accomplishment, boosting your confidence in yourself and your abilities. Even more, you’re focusing on positive experiences and emotions, instead of negative ones.


Art doesn’t have to be a solo activity. By participating in art classes or workshops, you can make friends and interact with people. Socialization is proven to help those with mental health issues, giving them a sense of belonging and a supportive group they can turn to in times of need.

Here at Creative Ventures Gallery, we believe that the creative process enriches all lives. So, if you’re struggling with mental health issues, sign up for one of our classes or workshops and see how art can be a positive force in your life.