” This is part of my Watercolor Lessons series of posts, where I share personal experiences that I feel have not been sufficiently or succinctly covered elsewhere. If you’re interested only in the lessons and not my normal blog posts, you can easily select them in the categories box on the right. ”
En Plein Air Field Kit
This is just a short post. I’m preparing another I think will be really useful to the beginning watercolorist that’s just getting set up, but it’s not quite ready. I hope to have that one up before Christmas.
To be honest, my on location field kit and my studio setup are pretty similar. Here’s what I usually take with me.
Above is my general setup when I’m standing. If I need to sit down, I just take the table off the base, which is actually a tiny, tiny, tiny (did I mention it’s small?) chair made by Doppelganger.
The table, as you can see, is simply a cardboard box protected with a plastic bag. Pretty high tech, huh? This has two advantages: it folds up easily and fits in my portfolio case, and I can use the plastic bag as a tarp if necessary to protect a floor if working indoors, or the painting if the weather turns.
When working en plein air, it’s important to have everything easy to take with you. This setup allows me to carry most of the bulk on my back, and sling the portfolio case over my shoulder. The only thing that doesn’t fit in the bags is my tripod easel, but my pack has a cover with straps which slide neatly through the easel’s legs and hold it securely to the outside of the backpack like a camper’s blanket. I want to get a little tin cup that rattles around while I’m walking just for effect.
Not included (because I forgot) in the initial picture is the small dollar store spray bottle you see above, and a fairly awesome Sport-Brella UV Ultraviolet parasol with a clip that I take with me if it’s very hot and sunny.
Assorted Apparatus of Apparent Awesomeness
The Brush Transporter: Brushes may be the single greatest financial investment you’ll make, and you’ll want to protect them. At home or on the go, I never like to leave my wet brushes with the tips pointing up for long. Paint, when it enters the ferrule, will destroy a brush quickly, and I personally don’t think excessive moisture left there to dry is very good, either. Especially if, in the case of when you’re out on location, the water may not be the cleanest and you haven’t worked the brushes with a cleansing soap. This device is simply a spaghetti holder with a hairband through the opening and a hook made from a paper clip. After I rinse my brushes, I put a rubber band around them, hang them from the clip, and clean them properly when I get home, even if they’ve been naughty and don’t deserve it. Overkill? Maybe, but all of my brushes point like they’re brand new. Important notes: Make sure the container is long enough so the tips don’t touch the bottom. Also, don’t hang them in this to dry at home. Hang them out in the open so they dry quickly and don’t become moldy.
The Viewfinder: To be honest, I don’t use this that often, but I do keep it with me in case there is a particularly busy or visually confusing area and I want to box it in. It just lets you see the scene within a frame, and since it’s a neutral color, it helps you to isolate colors as well. You can find it on Amazon here. Wow, I’m not an Amazon affiliate, but after this post, I feel like I should be! I always recommend checking Cheap Joe’s or Jackson’s for supplies first. They’ve both been excellent for me and, well, they’re fighting the good fight.
That’s about it. Hope some of you can find this useful when choosing your supplies. Now, as always, I’ll leave you with my closing words of motivational wisdom. Go out there en plein air and paint something, will ya? Stop slouchin’ around on the internet. There’s nothing good on here anyway.