Plein Air Supplies: What to Take Painting Outdoors

May 1, 2023 | – COURSE, Blog, PLEIN AIR SERIES, Tips & Tricks

the Right Plein air supplies for success

If you’re an artist who loves to paint en plein air, you know that painting outside can transform your painting practice, helping you capture the beauty of nature and the changing light of the day. Whether you’re a seasoned plein air painter or a beginner, having the right supplies will increase your chance of creating successful artwork. Let’s look at any artist’s essential plein air painting supplies.

9 supplies you need for painting outside

1. Portable Easel. Your easel should be compact and lightweight, yet sturdy enough to support your canvas or panel. A tripod-style easel is the most popular option for plein air painting as it can be easily set up on uneven surfaces and allows you to adjust the angle of your canvas or panel.

2. Painting Surface. Choose between a canvas, wood panel, or paper. Stretched canvas can be unwieldy and difficult to transport, but a panel, paper, or canvas board if you’re an acrylic painter is a great lightweight and portable option.

3. Brushes. A selection of brushes in various sizes and shapes will create different brushstrokes and effects. Choose brushes made with high-quality bristles to ensure they’ll hold up well under outdoor conditions.

4. Paint. Base your painting medium on your personal preferences and the environment you’ll be painting in. Oil paint dries slowly, giving you more time to work. Open acrylics behave more like oils and can be a great option for painting outdoors. Watercolor is also a good option for plein air painting as it’s lightweight and easy to transport.

5. Palette. A lightweight, compact palette for mixing paints is best for plein air painting. Consider a palette with a lid to keep your paint from drying out in the wind or sun.

6. Solvent or water. If you’re using oil paint, solvent will help you clean your brushes and thin your paint. Odorless mineral spirits or turpentine are popular choices. If you’re painting with acrylic, don’t forget water to clean your brushes and a spray bottle of water to keep your paints wet on your palette!

7. Paper Towels/Rags and a Garbage Bag. Things can get messy in the wild! Bring paper towels or rags to clean your brushes, wipe excess paint off your palette, and clean up any spills. And don’t forget the garbage bag! Leave your area as pristine as you found it.

8. Sunscreen, Hat, and/or Bug Spray. We think a lot about our artwork when we’re painting outdoors, but the artist is just as important as the art! Ensure you’re well protected from insects and elements for a comfortable painting experience. 

9. Water and Snacks. We all paint better when we’re well-fed and hydrated. Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you energized while you paint.

Pack up and let’s paint!

Plein air painting may become your favorite part of painting if you’re well-prepared. Pack these essential plein air supplies, and you’ll be ready to paint en plein air and capture the full beauty of the outdoors in your art. See you out there!

What to take painting outside

Want to learn more about Plein Air Painting?

Join Mastrius Mentor Gaye Adams in a new online course The Plein Air Adventure: How to Get Started! Learn what to look for in choosing a painting location and how to edit all the information down into a workable painting. Starts June 7th!

Watch Mastrius’ Why Every Artist Should Paint En Plein Air event on May 4th!
Watch the whole event recording—and 80+ OTHER past event recordings—in the Mastrius Events Recording Library

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with a Mastrius Events Membership! Participate in every event, watch the past week’s recording, and enjoy a members’ chat group.

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