Packing for a Plein Air Journey to PACE

I’m usually requested about packing for a plein air journey in order I’m within the midst of making ready to go to this 12 months’s Plein Air Convention and Expo (aka PACE), I believed I’d share what I’m taking in artwork provides. Please be aware, this can be a work in progress! 

Packing for a plein air journey for me means being as mild as attainable. Much less is Extra!! Or…Much less is waaaaay higher. The much less I’ve, the simpler it’s to hold all the pieces to and from and whereas on-site. Additionally, it makes packing up after a portray session lots faster. AND, it means I don’t have the load of a heavy pack to cease me from going to color on location! 

Though it’s vital to have the necessities, I do scrutinize all my decisions as soon as I’ve bought issues gathered. I’m all the time tempted to hold greater than I exploit. And but, I’m all the time considering, What if I would like this? For instance, What if I’ve an urge to color a watercolour? Possibly I ought to convey my watercolour and paper. It’s solely a small bundle of issues. Sure, AND it would add to the full bulk and weight!!

Okay, let’s get to my stuff!

Going mild means NOT taking all of the pastels from my studio! Somebody requested as soon as, How do you choose which colors you’ll take for a selected location? Properly, I don’t. I exploit what I’ve available within the second.  (I’m going deep into this query in an earlier put up.)


I take my Unison Colour set of 36 colors realizing I can just about paint something with it. But when I’m going for a short while, I don’t take the entire field. I’ve a smaller field (which takes up much less house) and I’ve items of every pastel plus further items of colors I have a tendency to make use of up sooner. I generally slip in a couple of further colors (a few neutrals, a darker blue for example) however inevitably, I don’t use them. So I’ve determined this time to simply take the colors from my set!

Packing for a Plein Air Trip-My Unison Colour pastels in a smaller box than the original box
My Unison Color pastels in a smaller field than the unique field

This isn’t the time to experiment with paper. That’s higher left for once you’re within the studio. Take the paper you’re most accustomed to. For me in the intervening time, it’s UART. I like the convenience of utilizing their 9 x 12 in pads that are available 400 and 600 grit. Each bit of pastel paper comes with its personal glassine cowl. Cool proper? I wish to work small so I can work extra rapidly. Because of this, I additionally convey alongside a number of the cutoffs of UART hanging in regards to the studio. This implies I additionally convey alongside a couple of further small sheets of glassine.

Packing for a Plein Air Trip - Drawing board, foam core, paper, apron, and cap
Drafting board, foam core, paper, apron, and cap

Proper now, I exploit a MABEF Field easel. It’s a bit chunky and weighs about 4lbs however it works so effectively. I’ve a case from my photographers tripod from means again when which, though cumbersome (ack!), means I can sling the easel over my shoulder for carrying. (Why doesn’t the MABEF easel include a carrying bag??) 

There are occasions once I’ve travelled with solely carryon baggage and in these circumstances, I’ve left the easel at residence. However I do all the time miss having the ability to simply step again from my work.

Packing for a Plein Air Trip - Mabef easel with my photographer's tripod case
MABEF easel with my photographer’s tripod case

I used to make use of the great Travellers box from Dakota Art Pastels however it’s heavy and I discovered I didn’t use/want all of the house. So as a substitute, I had a carpenter good friend create a a lot lighter tray which slides beneath the “hooks” that connected the Travellers field to the easel. There’s house for my field of pastels, my styrofoam tray for pastels which can be in play, my bathroom paper roll, and pencils. 

Packing for a Plein Air Trip - My wood tray with assorted stuff: Styrofoam tray for pastels in use, tissue standing in for wet wipes that I need to go buy!, compact mirror, Body Shop Hemp cream, sketchbook and pencils, bungee cord, two types of tape, viewfinder.
My wooden tray with assorted stuff: Styrofoam tray for pastels in use, tissue standing in for moist wipes that I have to go purchase!, compact mirror, Physique Store Hemp cream, sketchbook and pencils, bungee wire, two varieties of tape, viewfinder.
All the opposite stuff wanted when packing for a plein air journey!
  • Tiny sketchbook for thumbnails cos sure, I all the time make them even when portray en plein air however they might be fairly scrappy wanting. They do, nevertheless, have all the pieces I have to information me 
  • A few pencils- 2B and 4B
  • A bungee wire to connect the sketchbook to the easel the place I can see it as I work
  • My drafting board
  • A bit of froth core the identical dimension as drafting board. I tape my completed items to the board and canopy each bit with glassine. When it’s time to journey, I’ll tape the drafting board to the froth core to guard the work.
  • Artist’s tape for taping paper
  • Painter’s tape for taping all else!
  • A small tray for retaining pastels I’m utilizing in a chunk separate from the remainder
  • Viewfinder – all the time useful!
  • A compact mirror – in case I would like to the touch up. Kidding. It’s for taking a look at my work from a special perspective!
  • A small plastic bag for trash – go away the place as I discovered it
  • Small roll of bathroom paper. Sure I’m positive I can get it the place I’m going however it makes me really feel higher realizing I’ve some already there. And, it’s solely a partial roll so not cumbersome.
  • An apron – oh sure!! Cumbersome however essential. Other than retaining my garments considerably clear, I like the pockets (for viewfinder, cellphone, TP and many others)
  • Travelling bundle of moist wipes
  • Barrier cream (I just like the Physique Store hemp cream) or “Gloves in a Bottle”
  • Hat or cap to maintain glare from my eyes (shielding your eyes will enhance the accuracy of your imaginative and prescient!) 
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • Bug spray (I’m unsure I would like this however terrible to seek out out you do when on location!) 
  • A bag to hold all of it in. Sure, one among today I’ll kind out a again pack (it will be good to stroll palms free) however this truly works for me at this level.
  • I’m all the time hopeful to do extra sketching so I’m contemplating bringing alongside my small grey-toned Strathmore sketchbook with a few charcoal pencils (black and white). I could ditch it on the final minute…

And that’s mainly my packing for a plein air journey! I’d a longish listing however most of it’s small issues.

I hope this helps and reminds you that you just actually don’t have to take all the pieces with you! Simplifying what you’re taking, lightening the load, taking solely what’s completely essential, and having all of it packed and able to go at a second’s discover….That is what is going to get you out portray. And that’s what that is all about proper??

Bear in mind, the aim of working en plein air is to study to see higher – to notice worth relationships and color nuances that you just solely can solely see when portray from life. It’s great to have the ability to convey this information into your studio observe. Portray en plein air can also be in regards to the expertise of being within the second in your portray setting. What it’s not about is an excellent end result! Good by-product however not the aim of portray en plein air. 

Paint Anything With This Set of Soft Pastels:
Gail Sibley, “Brown’s Island,” Unison Color on UART 400, 9 x 12 in

So pack mild and go paint!

In a few weeks, I’ll share a few of my PACE experiences!

Till subsequent time,


PS. Right here’s the progress of the plein air portray above.