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Being Prepared for en plein air

Jan 09, 2020

1. Essentials (even if you don't end up using them)

2. Hat with brim to keep the sun out of your eyes

3. Water to drink! It is very common to become dehydrated without realizing it.

4. Drawing and/or painting tool

5. Paper

6. Paint (if you plan on painting in addition to or instead of sketching)

That's really all you need.  You can carry a lot more if you wish, but the above five or six items are really all you need.  

Sketching and painting en plein air is always a challenge no matter how many decades I've been doing it. It tests my art tools and my ability to adapt my body to the conditions of my surroundings. Every situation is different. Maybe that's what keeps me doing it. I love a challenge. In this case, my first challenge was finding a lava rock boulder that was possible to sit on for more than five seconds. I ended up using my zip case for my Perpetual Plant Journal as a layer (one could never call it a cushion) between the jagged rock and my derrière. The next challenge was keeping my paints moist in the hot Maui sun. I have a small atomizer that works well for this. Having to spray the paints every two minutes definitely interrupts the flow of painting and distracts me from my concentration. In this case, I definitely drew my plant, Pōhuehue (Beach Morning Glory) prior to painting it in watercolor. In spite of the quick speed at which I painted, the paint dried almost instantly on the paper (Stillman & Birn, Zeta Sketchbook). Eventually, nature won the endurance test when it sent a colony of tiny stinging ants to climb up my leg. The painting was done entirely with a squirrel hair mop brush and the folowing pigments: aureolin, gamboge, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, permanent rose, cobalt violet, ultramarine blue and Joe's blue (phthalo).

The more skills you have honed, the more you enjoy the experience of sketching and drawing.  

Check out my free art demos on Youtube, mini-courses on Skillshare and more in-depth courses on


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