Plein air painting packing list

  • Canvas
  • Array of oil paint colors
  • Various hog hair brushes
  • Palate board
  • Fast dry medium
  • Soft item to sit on
  • Rag
  • Apron
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
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Amy Cook, artist, captures an image of her painting of the Ponte Vecchio in early May. She spent the day painting the bridge from her view across the Arno River. Photo by Amy Cook

Preparation must be put into painting en plein air. Because one forgotten item may ruin a painting experience, it is important to reference a checklist such as this one.

One painful memory during my time painting in Italy was when I forgot to pack something to sit on. Hours of sitting on the hard, cobblestone ground of Florence’s Boboli Gardens made for an unpleasant memory and some serious back pain.

In an effort to avoid a situation such as this one, I created this packing list to check off each time I went on a painting adventure. It was definitely the reason I never forgot an important item again.

Although the canvas, oil paints, brushes, palate, fast dry medium are the only items necessary for painting, the rest may seem just as necessary when painting outdoors.

The item to sit on, apron, hat and sunscreen are needed for a comfortable painting experience. With the hot sun beating down, the sun protection items provide safety.

The heat along with the mental exhaustion of painting can cause fatigue, which is why items to treat yourself with are a good idea to have with you. Some nutrient-rich snacks such as granola bars or fruit will sustain a painter well. My art professor would toss students pieces of natural, fruit-flavored candy when they looked tired, and from experience, I can say they helped immensely.

When you are well-prepared to paint you are not only helping yourself, but you are helping others. If you are painting with others, you will be able to meet their artistic needs with the high chance that somebody forgot something. That means if you ever forget to check your packing list and leave something behind, someone who you’ve helped before will be more than happy to help you. This could even get you a painting buddy. Check out this blog post to learn about painting buddies.

Before heading out for your next painting adventure, create your own packing list. Be sure to personalize it with items that you find especially helpful, and comment your packing-list discoveries below.

Check out this blog post from Outdoor Painter on packing lists. 

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