Plein Air Painting Checklist


Edge Pro Paintbook Plein Air Setup

Taking up plein air was one of the best things I have done in years. I decided to give it a try awhile back as a way to just get out and paint for fun, with no expectation of creating anything that would not end up in the garbage as I am not a fast painter.

What I discovered is that plein air painting helps you to become a faster painter by helping you simplify huge amounts of information in a short period of time and that it is just really fun. You get a bit of an adrenaline rush as you know you only have so many minutes to capture what is in front of you. Objects completely change due to lighting and often what you are painting just goes away in seconds….cloud…what cloud?

So, you don’t have time to search for a tube of paint or a brush, which is why over the past year I have really streamlined my plein air painting setup. Below is a checklist of what I bring as well as some options for those that get anxiety if they do not have more than four tubes of paint….you know who you are…

Painting Supplies

  • Paints - the order listed is the order I arrange on the palette

Titanum White

Yellow Ochre

Hansa Yellow Light - optional

Ultramarine Blue - optional

Winsor Red

Burnt Sienna or Transparent Oxide Red - optional

Burnt Umber - optional

Ivory Black

·       Painting surface – I use Centurion OP Linen, Arches Oil Paper, Opus Art Board or Canvas Paper are also great

·       3 – 4 Flat Brushes (I prefer Rosemary & Co Shiraz or Silver Bristlon – sizes 2, 4, 8, 10 )

·       Gamblin Odorless Mineral Spirits or M. Graham Walnut Alkyd (non-toxic)

·       Refined Linseed Oil or M. Graham Walnut Oil (non-toxic)

·       Tripod (for portability)

·       Pochade or easel – I use Edge Pro Paintbook but many options available

·       Palette – glass or wood in neutral gray

·       Bag for dirty rags

·       Blue Shop Paper Towels or Viva

·       Latex gloves

·       Brush carrier

·       Wet panel carrier

·       Handheld mirror

·       View finder

·       Value scale

·       Cell phone with camera

·       Sketchbook and pencil or pen

Non-Painting Checklist

·       Sunscreen

·       Hat

·       Umbrella

·       Water & snack

I keep a streamlined version of these items packed in a backpack with wheels and ready to go.  This way when I feel like painting, I can just go without having to think about what need to bring, where that tube of paint is etc.    It may look like a lot of items but really it is not much and is quite light and portable.

My kit is so functional that I actually also use it when I go to live model sessions or when doing demos or painting at my gallery studio at 100 Braid Street.  Having a limited palette and brushes allows you to focus on the painting process and not get bogged down with too many options, something I don’t deal with well in all aspects of my life….sometimes less it more!