Thursday, April 9, 2015

Plein Air Painting

Getting Ready to Paint Outside - April 9, 2015

Be a Minimalist

When it comes to plein air painting I am a minimalist.  My goal is to take the least amount possible, yet have everything I need.  I keep an ongoing list of what I take.  Here are a few photos and I see I have omitted paper towels from the pictures.  I even cut them up into little squares rather than take a big roll.  Also omitted are garbage bags, one little one for trash and a big one to keep on the ground so my stuff doesn't get wet. 
My list
back pack
paints - small tubes (limited palette) plus burnt sienna and viridian
2 or 3 small panels and/or small pieces of loose canvas
shaper - great for making tree branches and strait lines
brushes - my 5 favorites
1 palette knife, the one shown in pic is most versatile to me
paper towels
big garbage bag
small garbage bag
view finder
tiny sketch pad
water and food (snacks and lunch)
What would you add to this that you cannot do without?

Two additional and big items include the tripod for mounting my M box palette and a chair.  My husband usually comes with me when I paint outside and uses a cart for these things, but if I had to I think I could carry them along with my back pack. 
Book Recommendation
Every landscape teacher ( including DVD's) I have ever had recommends this book.  It is available at Amazon.  Here is the link.  If you have a hardcover, new copy, hang on to it.  I just read that it is worth $999.00.  Otherwise the paperback is only 10.71, one of the best bargains around. 
(I can only read about 5 pages at a time and end up re-reading the same sentence over and over.  It is so filled with information that is worthwhile, but hard to read, maybe it's just me)
 I've read it several times.  The info about planes and light is essential to getting correct values.  The chapter I'm reading now is on composition.  Here is one of the pearls from that chapter:

"A work of art in paint should be beautiful and expressive as abstract color and form and should not interest us necessarily in any "story" outside of itself -- or else it belongs to the field of illustration."
(John Carlson, Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting) - sorry it's been so long I don't even remember how to do proper footnotes. 

Next blog will be steps I use for the painting.


  1. Hi Carol,
    You listed everything I take. Do you use a disposable paper palette? I love Carlson's book and reread bits of it from time to time. Look forward to seeing your next blog.

    1. What a good idea about the disposable paper palette. I could cut one to fit my M box, then I wouldn't have to clean the acrylic palette when I get home. Lots of times I forget to clean it and have to do that right before I go out next time which is about one time per week.

  2. Don't forget bug spray and suntan lotion! I am on the lookout for the most portable easel I can find, of high quality. It's harder and harder for me to lug the stuff, so I am looking for something I can put on wheels or carry easily. This will be my summer, I think, to cut back on the stuff. Of course, I will keep all the reserves in the car……Carol Marine is an awesome model for stripping down to the minimal. Her entire outfit is in the back pack that she travels with for workshops.

  3. AH, great suggestion, I need to add both to my list! I like M Box. There is a new one on the market that I saw in Plein Air Magazine. The name is some like "Strada", can't count on my memory.