The last post talked about the trip to Whidbey Island, WA for the Northwest Pastel Society annual Paint Out and included some of the photos I shot of the island. But the main reason for going was to actually paint out on location of choice!
I like to be surrounded by all my props usually. That way you are never without a color or particular paper, etc. In other words, there isn’t much excuse to not get a painting done. Well, then when plein air comes into play…it requires you hauling your supplies and equipment out in country, set up and paint. Whoa! I can’t possibly take all my “stuff. ‘ So I condense things, take my full size French easel, another bag of necessaries, like the extra pastels the art box won’t hold, paper, gloves, apron, board, etc. And a chair. Ok, with this load I am not going to venture too far from base. The easel is a torture…there is always something coming undone and flopping and dragging. So in this instance, if you are really lucky, maybe you can drive to the spot you want to paint and on Whidbey, you can do that at many sites. One site we painted was in a state park and there was a picnic table. Heaven! The light was great and I painted a trail leading into the forest Another day we found this beautifully landscaped rhodie garden which had many more varieties plants than just rhodies. All fairly easy spots to get to. So then I decided if I am going to paint plein air then I best quip myself with a manageable pack. So that is what I have done. I scrapped the French easel for a compact Daniel Smith 5# one that holds your pastel box when set up. It carries easily and then with one bag and fold up chair (optional, depending on where and how long I am going) I can at least get out of the parking lot!
So plein air takes some extra effort, but there is nothing like getting out there and painting without the aid of a photo. You need to take into consideration the ever-changing light, the elements, narrowing your field of view into something manageable and have the props you need with you. A well done plein air piece just stands out from the crowd!