– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –

Every season offers its own set of challenges, and the hardiest have found ways to make winter productive. Katherine Farrell put out a call on Facebook for ideas on summer plein air painting. Do you agree with her suggestions?

Lead Image: Wear a hat for protection from the sun.

Many of Farrell’s recommendations are common sense. Some are surprising. See if this checklist works for you.

  • Carry insect repellent and sun protection, including a big hat.
  • Lots of water and a bag of ice can be life-saving.
  • A cooling towel (I found mine on Amazon) around the neck takes the temperature down several notches.
  • Park yourself and your car in shade if possible. Use one of those silvery sunshades to keep your car bearable while you are out painting. Crack the windows open a bit. Nothing worse than getting in an unbearably hot car when you are beat.
  • Bring something to sit on, even if, like me, you stand while you paint. A little stool or a folding chair are great at break time.
  • Baby wipes keep hands and your car clean.
  • A spot near water usually has a little breeze and is interesting to paint.
  • Work early and quit before the worst heat hits.
  • Mix up some colors, especially greens, before going out so you can work faster. You can adjust them as needed.
  • Come into the sun to compare colors you mixed. Matching them in the shade isn’t accurate. (This is sure to provoke discussion.)
  • Carry snacks that don’t spoil quickly — protein bars, apples, oranges, or nuts.
  • Take a break and walk around to enjoy your surroundings. Examine your painting at a distance to see big shapes better.
  • Dealing with visitors: I’m generally polite and answer questions, but if it drags on and people hover, I hand them a business card. They generally leave when they realize I’m doing a job (admittedly a fun job), not providing entertainment.
  • Transporting wet paint: I put “press and seal” over my palette loosely and press around the edges to keep wet paint from sliding where it shouldn’t in the car. Then I pop it in the freezer to keep paint workable longer. I have done this when I had to leave paint for as much as two weeks and I come back and find it workable. I hate wasting paint, so I love anything that keeps it from drying out too fast. Clove oil is good too but it makes paint a bit more oily and the work dries more slowly too.
  • Used brushes get swished in turpentine or other solvent and put in a zippered brush bag with some solvent-soaked paper towel, then washed in Ivory soap when I get home. Don’t leave open tubes of paint or solvent in the car. They dry up and are not good for your air quality.
  • Leave wet paintings in the back window of the car to set up. If you put paper under them, they don’t move around and mess up your car. If the paint isn’t thick, they will be dry in a day.
  • Just because I like to leave things as I found them, I carry home all my trash and any more I find polluting the lovely places I visit.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here