Essential Creature Comforts for Painting Well en Plein Air

Beyond the basics, some creature comforts are essential for painting well en plein air. I’ve used a lot of different equipment and media outdoors since the mid 1980s. This is the first of my Plein Air Creature Comforts List for Painting Well Outdoors

plein air umbrella
plein air umbrella

1 ~ A bona-fide plein air umbrella

Not just a beach umbrella that clips to the easel, this one is designed with making the artist COMFORTABLE! A comfortable artist paints comfortably ~ and well, better!

I treated myself to this plein air umbrella for my painting trip to Long Beach Island next week. It has a reflective outside and is black inside. Those who don’t paint outdoors might not realize that painters cannot wear sunglasses while painting plein air.

Tinted lenses tint everything! Even the colors on the palette are affected and well, when you take the lenses off. Guess what, the colors on the canvas are all screwed up!

This umbrella eliminates glare and distorted reflections on the palette and canvas. I am so looking forward to trying it out!

BTW ~ it also has a vented crown to let the breeze through. This and the bungee cord keep the whole rig from blowing away in the wind. Notice that the umbrella is clamped at the base of the easel leg for stability. Though I don’t expect to be painting in high winds ~ not recommended unless you like sailing canvas.

plein air umbrella
easel clamps to the base of the easel leg

2 ~ The kit of all kits

Second on my list of essentials is an OUTSTANDING KIT. Not just a bag of paper towels from the grocery store, I mean a kit that has a place for everything, so everything is right where you need it ~just like in the studio!

I received this tote bag with all the pockets as a gift some years ago. It was designed as a gardener’s tool bag with a folding stool. While it’s been smashing in the garden, it’s ever better for plein air painting. This is especially true since I am a better painter than I am gardener!

The pockets, both inside and out, are large and plentiful. The inside is water resistant. I’ve used it so much, it’s time to get out Mom’s old Pfaff and sew on some new handles. These will be longer and stronger than the ones I’m replacing.

A couple strips of nylon cord and I’m good to go.

pfaff sewing machine
pfaff sewing machine

I’ll be packing a few more essentials, will post them in a few days.

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Author: Dorothy Fagan

Through the quirky way she interprets dreams, art, and day-to-day stuff ~ Dorothy's dream of painting the lavender fields of Provence became real. Her book about painting in France, Discovering Joy's Garden, transformed into this inspirational website.