Have you ever stood before rolling hills, majestic mountains, or a breathtaking sunset and wanted to recreate it in brushstrokes? While you could snap a picture on your smartphone, add a filter, and continue on your way, painting a beautiful vista by hand lets you connect with nature in a profound way.
Plein air painting is the act of painting outdoors. Just like with camping or backpacking, you need special equipment to capture all the contrasts, soft edges, and proportions that make up the natural world’s beauty and wonder. Here are some recommended tools and equipment to get you started on an artistic adventure.
You don’t have to pack up your painting equipment when the sun sets. In fact, you may prefer the mystique and enchantment of evening or nighttime painting sessions. Light sources like Fenix flashlights that have various light settings are ideal for nighttime painting because they adapt well to different light conditions. You may also prefer to use a Fenix headlamp to keep your hands free while you work.
No matter what kind of light source you use, angle it down 45 degrees, so the light doesn’t reflect into your eyes. To keep from feeling weighed down by your light source, choose a flashlight or headlamp with a lightweight battery.
Pochade boxes keep your painting equipment organized and easy to transport. Think about whether you’re more comfortable painting standing up or sitting down. For standing, consider a field easel with a pochade box, which you can adjust to the ideal height. If you prefer to sit, explore table and lap pochade boxes with built-in easels.
While narrowing your pochade box options, think about the surface you want to paint on, such as stretched canvas and panel. Be careful to keep stretched canvases from rubbing against each other and becoming dented. Panels are lighter than canvases, but you may struggle to carry several wet panels.
Oil Painting Tools and Materials
When you’re in the mood to paint whatever resonates with your artistic spirit, bring all your paints with you. Pack small tubes of paint, so you’ll have more colour options to recreate all the subtleties your eye catches.
It’s easier to blend shades and expand your palette when you bring warm and cool shades of each primary colour. Don’t forget to bring white paint, which helps add contrast to your pieces. When you become better acquainted with oil paints, you can mix them to create unique pigments to fill empty paint tubes with.
Bring different brushes for outdoor painting sessions, such as filberts, flats, and rounds, so you have options to match your style. Choose brushes with durable hair and a balance of giving and stiffness.
Do you already paint in a studio? You may work faster while out in nature, so you could need brushes with a different stiffness than you’re used to.
Just like a pochade box keeps all your painting equipment organized, a brush case keeps brushes in order. The tool may seem unnecessary, but it protects your brushes while you’re moving around. Cases also make it easy to grab the right brush while you paint and keep wet brushes out of your way.
Something as simple as a small empty jar makes for a great solvent pot to clean brushes in. Whatever you use, make sure it has a secure lid.
You can also purchase a brush washer that hangs from your easel by a hook. One benefit of brush washers over empty jars is some washers have a perforated floor that filters out sediment and keeps solvent cleaner.
Nature has a sprawling art gallery waiting to be recreated in your unique style. Are you ready to paint with all the colors of the natural world?