Dan Marshall’s setup from a recent plein air session

Once, on a rainy February day in the Midwest, I left my house to interview someone for an article. I arrived with coffee and rubber boots, and, just as I was getting out of my car, realized I was minus my rain jacket and a good camera. When you’re packing up gear, for an interview or a plein air trip, there are certain things that are easily left behind. This is especially true if it’s something you use on special occasions or can run out of, such as in the case of our friend and plein air artist Dan Marshall.

Look closely at his plein air setup above, and you’ll see a non-traditional adhesive. He shared this on Instagram with the following description: “Out painting this a.m., of course, I forgot my tape! Luckily found some Band-Aids in my first aid kit to do the trick!”

I asked Marshall to tell us a little more about it, and he kindly shared more of an inside scoop. “It was also a little below freezing [that day] so I had to add vodka to my rinse cup,” he said. “As I was pouring the vodka into my water a local was just pulling up to see what I was painting; between the Band-Aids and the vodka I’m sure she must’ve thought this guy is totally insane!”

Marshall offered some advice about being prepared: “It’s important to be flexible and able to adapt to whatever may present itself.”

This begs the question: What adaptation have you had to make recently while painting outdoors? Share it with us in the comments section below.

Follow Dan Marshall on Instagram here.

Want to learn how to paint with watercolor? Check out this art video workshop by Dan Marshall!

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  1. That is funny Cherie! It certainly is easy to forget some gear when rushing out of the studio to paint especially on a whim. I once arrived at a great location only to find out that I had forgotten my canvas and wound up painting on the back side of my palette! It was frustrating, but I got a study out of it. Ever since then, I use a checklist before walking out the door.

  2. Okay, a good painting friend of mine once told me about something he had to do, and a few years later I had to do the same thing… I forgot to pack any cotton rags or paper towels when I left for a day of painting up in the Columbia Gorge. (Oregon) It was a five mile walk up a high trail, with an elevation gain of about 2000 feet through a temperate rainforest to a remote waterfall. I didn’t discover my oversight until after I started setting up. Then, I remembered what my friend said and pulled off my boots and socks. I used those socks for rags while I painted. I finished the painting just fine, and since there was still five miles between me and the car, I tore down my gear and packed it up and put the socks back on and wore them out to the trailhead. I drove home, went into the bathroom and washed my feet with OMS in the bathtub. I also wiped the insides of my boots out. Yes, it was weird thing to do but hey, it was better than not painting or giving myself severe blisters on the trek out, yes?…at least, that’s what I told my wife when she walked in on me with my colorful feet in the bath tub. (Ha!)

  3. Once I rode my motorcycle up to the Big Horn Mountains from Colorado and as usual I strapped my watercolor kit onto the bike. Settling in along creekside to do a little watercolor while my son and grandkids fished farther downstream from me, I discovered I had forgot to pack my brushes. Fortunately my son had his tackle box so I rummaged around and found a couple of streamer flies I could use. Combined with a couple of dandelions and a few other dried weeds I was able to do the painting which readily sold when I returned home, largely due to the story behind it I think.

  4. While I enjoy reading the articles in your emails, I would enjoy it even more if you would stop forcing us to sign in with Facebook in order to watch Eric’s video interviews. I am not a member of Facebook, I do not want to be on Facebook, and I will never sign up for a Facebook account. I guess you are not really interested in whether we care about that.

  5. I once went out with my watercolor plein air gear only to find hen I got to the site I wanted to paint I realized I had not brought any cups/bowls/containers for water. That can make watercolors a bit rough. I was able to move my site downhill to a neck of the pond I intended to paint. Cleaning my brushes and wetting my paint was a bit of a problem in that I had to crouch down in order to reach the water, but it worked.


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