Plein Air Painting: Have you done it and do you have tips?

I'm planning on doing some plein air painting before the year runs out.

I know youtube has some videos on this, but I was wondering if anyone here in the forum has done plein air?  If so, do you have any advice for me as a plein air first-timer?

Thanks for all your time, thoughts, and support--


P.S.  I do have an easel coming that is an upgrade from my previous one.  It is meant for plein air.  Please don't give your opinion on the easel, because I've already bought it :)


  • dencaldencal -
    edited September 23

    No I have not done it, but read quite a bit.

    Ziplok bags are the go for oily or pigmented brushes. Dip brushes in walnut and clove or similar.
    ‘Transport in PVC tubes with caps. One tube for clean brushes and say two for used brushes.
    Zip Tie tubes in upright position to easel.

    As time is critical suggest premixing basic blue, brown, green and complementary greying colours based on a recon visit. Store in another capped pvc tube on a slide out tray. Use a few drops of clove oil on a felt pad glued inside a cap. (See my post on the Palette Garage).

    Block in all the dark and light shapes. Focus effort on shadows and highlights and leave time consuming details til your back in the studio with photographs.

    Suggest a folding stool with a chiller bag attached. Remember drinks, personal insect spray and sun block.

    Run a dress rehearsal in your back yard to refine your kit.


  • AllforChrist

    Update on the outdoor paint box with everything.

    + rail support for 16x20 panel
    + lid storage for about six 11x14 panels
    + lid stay for high winds
    + elasticised clips anchoring panel, near lid top
    + telescopic mahl stick
    + wing shelves with recessed secure ten value paint cups 
    + disposable towel roll issues rhs
    + active brush storage and medium bottles lhs
    + Tupperware containers for paint tubes under toughened and toned glass palette
    + PVC tube 70mm with end caps for brush storage
    + folding table
    + folding stool with chiller storage bag for lunch and refreshments

    The plan here is to have a setup to paint plein air, near the car,  but to have everything in easy reach.


  • AllforChrist

    i bought a fishing / photographers vest to function as an art vest. Again this is part of the clobber to go with the paint box with everything above. Yes pockets galore. The vest will be permanently furnished with everything in my various boxes and be 'at hand' wherever I am - field, studio, spontaneous art opportunities. Separate pockets for graphite, pastels, watercolor kit, erasers, towels, sketchbook etc.
    Probablly a compact camera and a color checker etc. First task will be dyeing it black.


  • @dencal your setup looks like the one James Bond uses😀.  Very cool.  

  • @allforChrist admiral endeavor.  I'd like to try this also some day.  In preparation for just such a day, I had found this 240 tips for plein air painters put out by Plein Air Magazine.  Here is a link an hope you may find this helpful.  Looking forward to seeing your results.  Best wishes to you.
  • GTO said:
    @dencal your setup looks like the one James Bond uses😀.  Very cool.  

    `A shite for shore eyesh`.  As the original James Bond might have said

  • I’m glad you posted this @allforChrist as i I’m building up my plein air kit and will also be a first timer with it.

    As usual @dencal great and useful top tips.

    Thanks for the link @A_Time_To_Paint


  • GTO said:
    @dencal your setup looks like the one James Bond uses😀.  Very cool.  

    It look impossibly clean! :)
  • ArtGal

    Yeah! I had just finished putting it together. Polished it up a bit to show my friends on DMP.


  • Thank you @dencal, the dress rehearsal is a great idea.  Really appreciate your photos and tips.
  • MichaelD said:
    I’m glad you posted this @allforChrist as i I’m building up my plein air kit and will also be a first timer with it.

    As usual @dencal great and useful top tips.

    Thanks for the link @A_Time_To_Paint


    That's so awesome @MichaelD, we're going to be figuring this out at the same time.
  • @A_Time_To_Paint
    that link is chock full of seasoned advice!!  Thanks so much!  I've learned a lot from it already
  • edited September 23
    @allforChrist, I did a fair bit of research and though I like the look of the wooden boxes I want to go really light, as I will either be cycling or taking train/bus as well as walking to destinations.

    I have checked out a few of the laptop style paint boxes and there are some beautifully made ones. But I like to stand when I paint and I think they are less practical teetering on the highest setting of a tripod.

    So I have gone for the Leder easel that allows me to have pallet and easel mast separate. Its nicely made, and along with a carbon fibre tripod is I bought its a very light combination.

    Its basically an easel mast (with very good fittings for canvas or board) along with palette holder that fit onto a tripod.

    I recently found out a neighbour has a 3D printer and I have approached him with the idea of making a pallet box.

  • @MichaelD
    That easel looks just about perfect, especially considering the lightweight piece. 
    To me, the palette holder is a must, so that's great it has one.  I'll keep you updated on my plein air situation-- and hopefully you'll do likewise! :)
  • You're all too organised for me. If I went I would do it in my usual disorganised, last-minute-better-grab-this style. I have an old French easel. Put minimal brushes and paints inside it - limited palette, biggish brushes. Take lunch. Steal the brilliant idea above of ziplock bags and oil for brushes, all in the easy to carry French easel. Ideally go with super-organised person who remembers stuff.
    Oh, and of course at least my phone to capture images if I want to do a more detailed painting later.
  • @Abstraction, oh yes I will definitely be bringing lunch, and a flask of coffee and I think its a must to take a few shots of the scene to help with any finishing that may be required later.

  • edited September 24
    That's the sort of lightweight easel setup I'd go for, @MichaelD. As I get older I'm finding it more and more difficult to get around. If you're lugging it through forest and rocks, or even if you have to walk any distance with it down good tracks,  you want something light that will fit in a backpack so you limbs are free to help you negotiate the terrain.  I like the palette holder because, like you, I stand when I paint and I want my hands free to hold brushes.   :)
  • Exactamondo @tassieguy I’m going for as minimum as is reasonable for me for those reasons.

    I guess if I was more of a car user the french style wooden ones would be less of an issue.

    But I appreciate that its different (brush) strokes for different folks  :)
Sign In or Register to comment.