Painting While Traveling, Part 1

Kappelwindeck, Bühl, Germany ©Bivenne Staiger

A year ago almost to the day I departed with four of my family for a three-week trip to Germany and Switzerland, two beautiful countries everyone should visit. We spent a few days with my mother’s family in Germany’s Black Forest (above is a small painting of her hometown) and then went to Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley and Jungfrau region. Stunning scenery, friendly people, good food and idyllic weather made for memorable experiences. I brought along a travel paint kit, brushes, watercolor paper, and a small water container and painted en plein air when possible. Most of the following were painted in situ, in about a half hour to an hour’s time.

Sulwald, Isefluh, Switzerland, 9×12″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2019

Above: I painted the sky and clouds first, wet-on-wet, then the mountain peeking through when the blue sky area was dry. Next, the meadow was painted and finally the dark tree line. The clouds lifted in a half hour, just as it was complete.

Monch, Eiger, Jungfrau, 12×16″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2019

We eventually lost count of the many hang gliders (not depicted here), who were seen as tiny specks against these peaks. The occasional golden eagle or other birds of prey were also greatly dwarfed by the mountains. Frequently seen and heard were grazing cows, goats and their bells, quite charming! One kept us company while we picnicked…

Grütschalpen, Jungfrau, Switzerland, 9×12″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2019
Wetterhorn, 9×12″©Bivenne Staiger 2019

After the sky was painted and paper dry, of importance was always an accurate rendition of the various mountain silhouettes. Most of these renderings are quick sketches rather than finished paintings. I gave the above to our airbnb hostess in Hasliberg, Switzerland. Below is a view from her place looking west at the end of the day as rain clouds swept across the sunlit valley:

Hasliberg, Switzerland, 12×16″ ©Bivenne Staiger 2019

For the above view, I painted the sky first with loads of dark paint on wet paper and let it dry. Next came the distant (blue and green) mountains and even the bright yellow-green valley. While all (except sky) were still wet, I quickly and forcefully pulled damp tissue/paper towel (a damp sponge would also do) across the paper from sky to valley to lift paint and suggest the shafts of light. Darker surrounding hills and other forms complete the piece. This painting does not do proper justice to the view Mother Nature provided.

Painting quickly outdoors or in a studio is good practice to keep brush strokes loose and focus on the essence of shapes rather than on minutiae. I actually like to include a mix of loose, broad strokes painted wet- and dry-on-wet with details that are usually added wet- and dry-on-dry in my finished paintings. More travel paintings to follow. Stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “Painting While Traveling, Part 1

  1. Bivenne – arm-chair traveling at its best! I got such a sense of pastoral and serene space- could almost feel the air. Loved the hint of how to create shafts of light.

    Liked by 1 person

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