Artist TipsPlein Air Paint-Out

Plein Air Painting Checklist

Spring in a Sanford field.

Planning to participate in the SBPC Plein Air Paint-Out? Here are some ideas of things to bring along to make sure you are outstanding in your field…

    • Watercolor paper or canvas. Bring more than you think you’ll need. Not every sheet will end up being a finished piece. This is especially new for those of us who are new to this kind of setting!
    • Artist tape. It adheres watercolor paper to a board or surface, leaves a crisp white border on a finished painting, and reduces shrinking after your painting has dried, all without ruining the edges of the paper. Not all tapes are created equally, so choose wisely! This is not an area where duct tape can fix everything.
    • Board to tape the watercolor paper down.
    • Easel. For any painter this is a handy item; optional but helpful!
    • Paint set. You don’t have to bring every color, but you do need to bring your own paints. In fact, bringing a limited palette and working with it no matter your subject matter could be a great exercise! Consider how you can provide more room to mix more colors, too! Difficult to do on-site, so plan ahead.
    • Brushes. Remember if you are painting in watercolor to bring brushes you only use for watercolor – don’t want to use your oil painting brushes! Same applies for acrylic and oil painters.
    • Water cups. A wise watercolorist recently suggested that you use two cups for painting – 1 for clean water, 1 for dirty water. Otherwise, you’re using dirty water to make new colors. Yikes! Any kind will do.
    • Water, for rinsing brushes, for wetting your brushes, plus more for you to drink!
    • Paper towels. If you tend to use a lot, bring a lot. Usually, a partial roll works just fine and this a great time to finish one off. Some artists prefer to use rags or old towels instead, and if you do that works wonderfully, too.
    • Pencil & eraser. Some artists prefer to jump right in, but if you are a sketch-then-paint kind of person, this is going to be a useful duo for you.
    • Seating. This could take a while and you want to be comfortable. A fold up chair, blanket, tripod stool, whatever works for you.
    • Sunscreen in a tube, hat, umbrella, whatever your favorite method of blocking the light from your eyes and keeping a burn at bay. The shade will move during the day and it’s going to be sunny and hot on Saturday!
    • Snacks, drinks, lunch. An insulated lunch bag can help here but is not necessary. Remember to stay hydrated! Pack an extra water or two. Think about snacks that will weather the heat well – crackers, granola bars, etc. 
    • A well-charged phone and a pair of earbuds seem like a requirement for leaving the house these days. Consider the lack of wifi in the field, and if you plan to listen to online content, consider downloading your audio book or music list before you leave home. (Might want to keep your ringer low so you don’t distract others artists, though.)

Think about what you would need to have handy for (1) making the art you want to make, (2) an old school bring-your-own-lunch brown bag field trip, and (3) spending the day outside this time of year. Combine them all and you’ll be set!