Villa Mettlen Take One

I did a practice round of my ‘city artist’ fantasy by painting ‘en plein air’ just down the street. Here’s what I learned.

  • Glass jars are a no-go when working outdoors. I’m lucky I had one left to clean my brushes and provide water for mixing. I’m going to need some plastic cup-sized containers.

  • 0.6 liters of water is not sufficient. The combination of water for mixing, cleaning and drinking in the hot sun exceeds the capacity of the little bottle I regularly carry. I’m going to need a one liter flask.

  • Liquid paints are not really an option. It is better to have tubes of paste-type paint or solid dry pans in a suitable palette box. I can’t believe how much liquid green can come out of a little 30ml bottle and make life so miserable.

  • Paint dries a lot faster in the sun. If you think you’re going to lay down a colour and go back to fix it, you’re too late. You have to hit it correctly the first time - there is no backup plan.

  • An easel is optional. I can hold the pad of paper with one hand and apply paint with the other. There were only a few times I needed to park the artwork while playing with accessories.

  • It’s a “one-big-brush” operation. There is no time and no need for a bunch of brushes smaller than a number ten. You just have to be able to handle a big brush well enough to do the detail work.

  • It takes more than two hours to do a painting. My time budget was blown away by the time I had the basics painted in. I would now estimate at least three hours.

  • There were people who stopped by and provided some comments. It is, as I expected, somewhat of a novelty for people to see an artist at work. I need an elevator pitch (in German) to explain how I will give them the painting - gratis - if they want it.

Data Description
Title Villa Mettlen - front
Artist Derrick Oswald
Medium Watercolour and ink on acid-free, cellulose, fine-grained, natural-white paper
Dimensions (w × h cm) 42 × 29.7
Date 2023

watercolour of the Villa Mettlen from the north

original photograph of the Villa Mettlen



A Canadian electrical engineer living in Switzerland, developing software for over 40 years, e.g. big data for electric distribution utilities and the cloud security space, but now retired.

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