What to take when you go painting en plein air

  • We've often been asked what an artist should to bring when going plein air painting. Not that easy to say, as we are all so different, however, I can say what I bring. (This is for acrylic painting.)
    First, you need to control your selection of paint. Depending upon how far I expect to walk with my kit, I bring either a bare minimum palette of colours, or a slightly expanded set.
    Bare minimum set
    Hansa Yellow Medium
    Napthol Red Light
    Quinacridone Magenta
    Burnt Umber
    Indanthrene Blue
    Titanium White

    Expanded set
    Hansa Yellow Medium
    Napthol Red Light
    Quinacridone Magenta
    Burnt Umber
    Indanthrene Blue
    Phthalo Blue (green shade)
    Phthalo Green (yellow shade)
    Titanium White
    Polymer medium
    With either of these two paint kits, you can mix almost any colour you come across.

    Two brushes: Catalyst by Princeton Polytip bristle 1" & 1/2" Brights (great brushes for plein air, if you like stiff, easy to control brushes)
    Palette: Non-stick baking tray
    Field easel (I have my own custom-made easel) or pochade box with tripod
    Yoghurt tub for cleaning brushes
    Rags for cleaning brushes
    Viewfinder
    Small sketchbook
    1 soft pencil
    Eraser
    Grey-scale markers: black, medium and light non-bleed markers
    1 small spritzer bottle for keeping the paint on the palette open
    Clamp-on umbrella to shade painting board and palette
    3-4, 12x16 (or whichever size you like to work with) painting boards for the day, already primed orange or black
    Stool (I paint sitting down)
    Backpack large enough to carry all of the above except the boards, which I carry in a board holder I built
    Water for painting, if you will not be near a water source
    Camera to shoot scene and capture progress of your painting

    Non-Painting Items Summer
    Sun hat
    Sunscreen
    Insect repellant
    Drinking water
    Snacks
    Sweater or similar in case it turns cool
    Rain gear if there's chance of rain
    Pliers, for opening stuck paint tubes
    Good walking shoes
    Cell phone for emergencies

    If you are going deep off the regular track, these other items are good to have as well
    Compass and/or GPS
    Food & more water
    Whistle for signalling
    Basic first aid kit
    Walking pole
    Map of area
    Space blanket

    This kit has worked for me in every situation I've been in. 

    First published in Wilson Street Studio's blog.