My Plein Air Set-up

Photo showing my Plein Air Set-up by Sarah Sullivan

My Plein Air Set-up

Since today is a driving day I thought I would write about the supplies I now take with me when I paint on location. Before this summer I would go plein air painting, that is, paint on location, at most once a week, and then usually with my supply laden car nearby.

During the past six weeks, however, I went out plein air sketching most days by bike or by foot, often painting miles away from my home base. The first day hiking with all my supplies was a rude awaking as my stuff weighted far too much for me to easily carry.  As I staggered along that first morning I pondered, ‘Did I really need the stool, side table, backboard, extra paint, large palette, several sketchbooks, paper towels and who knows what?’ 

Over that first week I began to distinguish between essential supplies- an easel, paper, paint, pastels, water, and then all sorts of nice-to-have extras. Eventually I reduced the weight of my supplies into a manageable amount that fit into a wide-mouth day pack. And I learned to use the rack on my bike as a side table, my helmet as a shelf for holding my supplies and the ground as a seat for resting.

The photo above shows my set-up at the site of Elk Pond in Telluride Mountain Village and the photo below is a close-up of my painting supplies. 

Here is what I always take: 

  • A day pack
  • A lightweight easel with an attached hammock for holding supplies
  • Two sketchbooks- one large one for the painting and one small one for thumbnail sketches and scratch paper. The small sketchbook also has my color charts in the back for reference.
  • A small set of pastel pencils with kneaded eraser, blender and a pen
  • A pouch with paintbrushes, a few tubes of paint, a spray bottle, sponge, a few folded paper towels, palette paper, two small water containers and a few clips. The palette paper attaches to my bike rack with a clip and is a great space for mixing up color. 
  • One small palette with some of my most used Holbein gouache paints (an old Windsor Newton watercolor palette with the original colors removed). Most of the wells have a a dab of white along with the individual gouache color. 
  • A water bottle
  • A small ruler 

And I sometimes take my bike, helmet, bug spray, sun screen, rain gear, a hat, a sun shirt or a fleece. 

About Sarah Sullivan
This entry was posted in Deliberate Practice, Landscape, Learning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to My Plein Air Set-up

  1. tprevey says:

    Beautiful photos and interesting explanation ofyour plain air set-up!


  2. equinoxio21 says:

    Rain gear sounds like a good precaution. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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