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