Frugal Plein Air

posted in: Art 2

I’ve always been a studio painter and just recently took up plein air painting.  As I was getting ready for my first session, I evaluated my current gear and realized I needed to make some adjustments, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Hey what if this one outing turned out to be a one hit/flop wonder?

My first area of concern was the easel. My trusty  wooden french easel is a great sturdy workhorse.  But it can get really heavy, really quick.  So, I searched the web for an inexpensive and lighter-weight alternative, and found an aluminum easel on ebay for only $69.  At a little over 10 pounds,  it’s only 3 pounds lighter than my french easel but it’s a bit easier to set up.

Shannon Grissompainting plein air on the Fesno River
Day on the Fresno River~ Photo Courtesy of Vicki Thomas

My second area of concern was the transportation of wet paintings. Again I searched the web and I found a ton of tips on Wet Canvas. Of course, I opted for the most frugal suggestion. I rolled up packing tape, and affixed it to the storage tray of my french easel. Then I firmly placed the wet paintings on the rolled up paint. I’m pleased to report that they held up well under all sorts of clunking around.


The tape was a good fit as I painted on small, (6″ x 6″) Gessobord. I’m not so sure about using it with stretched canvas and certainly not with paper! The Gessobord stuck well to the tape and was not too difficult to peel off when I returned home. I was able to carry two paintings my box and one on my easel.

By the way, there are a ton of great wet canvas carriers. You can spend as much or as little as you want. If you are so inclined, I also found a really informative post on Experimental Guru on how to make your own.

My third area of concern was brushes. I’m an oil painter and I  simply did not want to carry around solvent and a ton of brushes. So I opted to paint with knives instead.  They have two benefits. They force me to paint loosely, and the clean up is a breeze.

Here’s a pic of my work from the outing with the Yosemite Western Artists.  I had a blast!

Plein AIr Artwork
Plein Air Artwork

I’d love to hear bout your plein air experiences and any frugal tips you can pass along would be greatly appreciated!

Shannon Grissom on the Fresno River Photo By Sandee Scott


2 Responses

  1. Barbara


    You are having way too much fun – how great is that. Great paintings.