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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shifting Into (plein air) Gear...

People I paint with, talk to, correspond with, attend workshops with, are often curious about my plein air gear, so here is a rundown of what I carry with me into the field (you can click on the photos to enlarge them):

1. Full gear (packed): backpack, hat and paper. This is what I carry when I'm on a plein air outing, it's light and compact enough to hike with.

Full gear, unpacked:
-watercolor paper block (by Arches, but I carry loose sheets of Fabriano paper inside the block as well)
-Water bottle, spray bottle and painting kit (described below)
-In the center, my easel board and shelf (from www.enpleinairpro.com)
-Folding stool (13 inch when folded, Web Foot is the brand, from REI).
-Tripod for the easel (a 15-inch-folded Sunpack, from www.enpleinairpro.com)
-Rain jacket (by Marmot, from REI)
-Foldable hat (by Tilley), to shade my eyes so I can see colors better.

Full gear, ready: This photo shows a sturdier Samsonite tripod, which I substitute for the Sunpack before I leave if the weather is windy. Most of the time I paint standing, I only carry the folding stool if I think it's going to be a long session.

2. Painting kit: This is a small kit I can carry as part of my gear, or on its on when traveling. I keep it in my car. It consists of:
-outdoor organizer by Outdoor Research, nylon, 11x7x3
-Arches watercolor pad, 6x10 (notice I've replaced the wire binding with paper clips, making it more compact and easier to handle)
-paint box palette (24 full pan set, by Schmincke) (more details below)
-watercolor pencils (12 pencil set, by Derwent). Optional, I don't carry this in all the time.
-colapsible water pail, rag, tape, binder clips, pencil, etc.
-brushes: #6 Rekab squirrel mop, #2 W&N Sceptre Gold rigger, a folding Raphael Kaerell folding round

Details of the paint box and brushes:
The paintbox accommodates both full pans and small pans, which I fill in myself with various brands. Sometimes I carry an Altoids tin with additional pans that I can easily swap for the ones in the paint box. The paint box also has room for the brushes, you see my mop brush and the rigger in the photo, I have placed an elastic band on them, that keeps them in place so the hairs do not press against the end of the box.

3. Minimal kit: This fits into my briefcase or coat pockets:
-Sketchbook, 8x5 inch Moleskine
-travel palette, small 12 half-pan set by Van Gogh (that I've also re-filled over time with various brands). (Sometimes I carry the Derwent watercolor pencil set instead)
-small water bottle (from a toiletry kit)
-folding brush, #14 Raphael Kaerell synthetic

I vary these basic arrangements all the time: sometimes I leave some things out (like the folding stool, the pencil set, etc.) and sometimes I add things, such as larger sheets of paper in a portfolio, and a larger board to clip them on to.


  1. I loved reading about your plein air set up. How do you like that watercolor easel? It looks a lot easier to pack and use than my set up.

  2. Deborah, hi. This is one of the most practical easels I've seen, I'm really happy with it and don't plan to change for the time being.
    Thank you for visiting the blog, and for your comment.