Thursday, June 9, 2011

Plein Air Supplies

Plein air painting requires the usual painting supplies, but pack as lightly as you can.   I usually squeeze out plenty of paint in the Masterson palette and leave all tubes except white at home.  Or try something smaller like the pill boxes with a limited palette.   Every plein air artist has a personal plein air equipment solution.  Here's what I bring:

TV tray 
     Not needed if easel has a palette rest.
chair or folding stool
     If you like to sit.
     Bristle filberts #2, #4 (two), #6 (two) and #8
canvas panels
     6 x 8", 8 x 10" or 9 x 12" 
palette knife
palette scraper
     To check that canvas is level.
odorless mineral spirits
paper towels
sketchbook & pencil
black glass and color isolator
plastic grocery bag for used paper towels
bungee cord and masking tape
cart to carry all of this stuff

A word about umbrellas.  They are a bother but really do make a difference in your ability to see color.  I have been through half a dozen and have yet to find one without a hitch.  The problem is the wind. If the umbrella can't be pushed into the ground, it requires a weighted base.  I try to find a place in the shade to paint, so I don't need an umbrella.  The cloisters at the Mission provide shade.  I painted from the shady side of the street in North Park. If I must paint in the sun on a hard surface, I improvise a support for the umbrella - hence the bungee cord and tape.  You can tape it to your cart handle.  At University Heights I bungeed the umbrella to a parking meter.  

As to the umbrella itself, some artists prefer white and some black.  I prefer black.  Sargent and Sorolla used white.  Sergei Bongart recommended a cheap beach umbrella with the underside painted with black house paint.  It required replacing every year.  Both white and black plein air umbrellas are available through online art stores.  Most clamp to the easel which I have found to be a dangerous proposition.  Think Mary Poppins.  Start with anything you have available and devise a solution from experience. 

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