Plein air painting tips -
Carolyn Counnas, plein air painting with one of her most important assets — her sunglasses. Carolyn works with oil on linen board using a dual primary palette. “I enjoy mixing my colors and the harmony it creates,” she said. “Plus fewer paint tubes means it’s lighter weight.”

Here at PleinAir Magazine, we recently received a letter to the editor from reader Carolyn Counnas of Thousand Oaks, California, on protecting your eyes while painting en plein air. See what her tip is to keep your vision safe.

“I came across an interesting tip for plein air painters regarding eye safety,” Carolyn said. “At a recent eye exam for new glasses, my doctor did his routine test for UV damage, indicated by a discoloration in the back of the eye. I tested normal, thank God! He said the worst cases are farmers who wear no eye protection.

“I brought up my challenge as a plein air painter exposed to bright sunlight for long hours at a time. Then I realized I make it even worse because I love backlit subjects where I’m staring straight into the sun, and I don’t wear sunglasses because it distorts my colors.

“In fact, I don’t wear my distant prescription glasses either because I like the way the shapes read better than the detail. I do wear a big hat and often use an umbrella, but he warned me that that’s not enough. He said the real key is a good quality pair of clear safety glasses with UV protection. For only $10 from Amazon, I can now protect my most valuable asset a painter, my eyes. It’s #1 on my outdoor supply list.”

About Carolyn Counnas

Carolyn tells us she started plein air about six years ago and “soon discovered there are few things as inspiring as southern California’s quality of light and its endless subject matter.”

“Frankly, plein air is the most challenging and enjoyable thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “Fortunately, I have made lots of friends who enjoy the challenge, and there’s always someone or a group to go out with.”

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  1. This is absolutely something we outdoor painters should be concerned about. In addition, if you do wear sunglasses to paint in, and I don’t recommend that for the reason Carolyn says, make sure your sunglasses offer UV protection as well since putting them on encourages your irises to open up more, letting more light in.


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