I know it's Labour Day weekend, and with the cooler nights, people's thoughts turn to autumn, the school year, etc. But our days are still so lovely that I'm not ready to relinquish the pleasures of summer until I am forced to do so!
I used to do a lot of hiking and plein air painting. In recent years, my art practice has been centered on my studio. This summer, I picked up my simple plein air watercolor kit and had a great time painting in the park, etc. I taught a workshop, and will do so again next June.
Plein Air painting kits can be very simple, or very elaborate. You see some painters that need a packhorse for all their gear: easel, chair, umbrella, panel carrying case, .... Over the years, mine has become smaller, simpler, and lighter. Here's what's in my kit now:
- small watercolor palette, with multiple mixing areas
- 6"x9" watercolor paper pad
- 2 brushes (small round and 1" flat, synthetic bristles) rolled up in a bamboo mat.
- narrow 'Sharpie' or Pitt pen with waterproof ink (not shown)
- 2 small yogurt containers
- bottle of water for drinking and painting with
If you wanted to be even more minimal, you could just use one brush, sawn off to fit in the palette, and use the lid from your waterbottle instead of the containers.
When I'm in the field, I don't try to do complex, full-on watercolor paintings like I would do in my studio. Instead, I use a combination of line and colored washes to capture the feeling of a place. I may use the sketches, and photographs, to create more finished paintings back in the studio later - or I may not. I do find that by stopping to look carefully enough to paint a scene, I really remember what it was like to be there.
Here's the courtyard of a place I stayed on a holiday:
It's not to late to grab a brush and get outdoors!