Favorite Tools & Supplies
For plein air painting:
1. I use the Daytripper Easel
I like that this is lightweight and compact enough to slide into my backpack. I chose the glass palette, and it (knock on wood) hasn't broken yet with four flights under its belt.
2. I started out with this easel- Alla Prima Pocade. I really love that it is handmade with beautiful wood by another painter. He has many sizes and designs and is great to work with. In the end, I decided I wanted my easel separate from my painting, so I could use the full motion of my arm. However, there are many professional artists who use a pochade box, so it is a matter of personal preference.
3. There are lots of options now on the market so look around to see what works for you. This article will show you lots of options.
Manafrotto Be Free Tripod- link
Get one that is tall enough for you! If you aren't hiking often with your kit, you don't need to pay extra for titanium, unless you are flying a lot and worried about weight. This is the tripod I use, it works for me, but I don't know if it is the best one for you. I chose a tripod with lever leg locks. I've read that ones with twist leg locks can get sand in them and make it hard to tighten. Look for a hook you can hang your backpack from to weigh the tripod down when it is windy (you may need a carabiner too.) I leave my easel attachment on the tripod.
Large umbrella for shade - not for hiking with, but gives the widest circle of shade has a metal stand or can be put into sand.
Plein Air Umbrellas
I use a Best Brella which is now discontinued. They sell other products for plein air painting. https://www.greatarttools.com/
I have not tried these, but they are popular with other painters:
I use a pack designed to carry a laptop. This cushions my palette which has glass in it. Any pack that fits all your things and is comfortable will do. Just don't get one so large that you are tempted to carry too much gear with you!
In my Backpack:
1. Charged Smart Phone -
• Check the weather before you head out.
• Take photos and videos of your subject to refer to later. Use camera to play with different compositions or cropping.
• Use sun tracker app or compass to find out which way the sun will travel.
• Keep in touch, let people know where you are if you are painting alone and to have in case of emergency.
3. Oil Paint tubes (37ml)- carry inside a strong, plastic box so they don't get squished, or if a cap gets loose, they won't get paint all over your bag. My palette changes with my mood and subject but here is what I use most often:
Titanium White, quick/rapid dry - M. Graham (dries fast, stiffer, cool white) or Titanium White-Gamblin (normal dry time, stiffer, cool white), or Titanium White - Sunflower - M. Graham (normal dry time, softer, warmer).
Cadmium Lemon or Yellow - Gamblin, Michael Harding, Daniel Smith, Sennelier
Indian Yellow - color varies a great deal by brand, Gamblin, Windsor & Newton, Daniel Smith
Quinacridone Red/Rose - Gamblin, Daniel Smith
Magenta - Winsor & Newton
Ultramarine Blue - Gamblin, Daniel Smith, Rembrandt
Sap Green - Daniel Smith, Rembrandt (some sort of green you like, that you can bend to whatever hue you want. Many artists use Veridian. Makes mixing greens faster.)
Van Dyck Brown - Rembrandt
Transparent Yellow Oxide - Rembrandt, Michael Harding
Transparent Red Oxide - Rembrandt, Michael Harding
Transparent Orange - Daniel Smith
Cadmium Orange or Red - Gamblin, Daniel Smith
Cobalt Teal Blue - Sennelier, Daniel Smith, Micheal Harding
Pthalo Blue/Green - Daniel Smith, Gamblin
Solvent: Gamblin's Gamsol- sold at most art suppliers
Medium: Gamlin's Solvent Free Gel - sold at most art suppliers
Solvent container: This is small one and has three clamps for extra security.
5. Paint Scraper
Mine is so covered with paint I can't tell what brand it is, but any glass/tile scraper at your local hardware store will do. Mine looks like this one.
6. Brush Holder
Art Essentials, folding, long or short handle versions - link
Rosemary brushes: Evergreen, Eclipse and 278 series, flats, filberts and combers. This is a great family owned company and you'll find high quality brushes for all mediums. Despite paying for shipping from England, their prices are still the most affordable.- link
8. Paper Towels
Viva - Signature cloth (the other Viva towel, Multi-surface cloth, has too much texture). Available at most large grocery stores or Amazon. Other artists use blue shop towels. Viva link
Healthier and makes it easy to remove gloves, have a snack, and put them back on. Hard to wash your hands well in the field. I get these (Nitrile exam gloves, medium) at Costco but you can also order them on Amazon. I keep a bunch in my backpack and reuse them.
10. Garbage Bag - any sturdy, small, plastic bag
and Two small clips - plastic clips or binder clips, for clipping garbage bag to palette, and for paper towel or gloves to palette when I'm not using them. Saves chasing after these when it is windy!
11. Panels - Ampersand Gesso Panels are my favorite.
Wet Painting Carriers
Any of the below. When heading out, make sure your painting carrier holds the same size panels you are taking.
1. Raymar - Great for flying with - strong & lightweight, holds 6 panels. link
2. Panelpaks - holds 2 panels, lightweight & compact. link
3. Pizza box that fits your canvas/panel (don't laugh- these work and are much cheaper-but not strong enough for flying). Also great to have on hand in case someone wants to buy the canvas right off your easel - they can carry it home safely.
HAT with 2-3' brim (and adjustable chin strap if you paint in any wind.) Protects your face, but also helps you see color more accurately when you are not blinded by the light. )
Extra clothes: Keep extra clothes in your car, so you are always ready when the weather changes. When it is cold: all your usual layers, plus fingerless gloves-one for my painting hand, I wear the latex glove on the other. Warm hat! Warm boots! Never underestimate how hot or cold you can get standing in one place for 2-3 hours.
You won't regret this. This amazing thermos keeps hot drinks hot, and cold drinks cold for an insane amount of time! Both of which are really nice to have when you are cold or hot. It also locks so it won't open in your pack.
• Water/drink, snack bars and food. Painting takes a lot of focus and energy. Keep yourself refreshed. I have a pocket in my pack that I stash many snack bars in, just in case.
• Sunscreen, bug spray, protection against the critters (snakes, bears etc) in the area you will be painting. If traveling to an environment you are unfamiliar with, be sure to research what you will need!
• If you are hiking often or far, take a GPS tracker and/or GPS phone.
• Use orange traffic cones when painting alongside roads or busy sidewalks.
Car with a hatchback that lifts up- paint at the back end of the car, use it as a shelf for your stuff and the hatch can protect you from rain and sun (use painting tape to cover the window fabric/wind breaker for shade). If windy park car facing into the wind so the back is best protected.