My Open Box M palette/panel holder. A 10x12" weights 1.75 ibs, an 11x14" weighs 3 lbs. They have other sizes.
Painting at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden during the Grand Illumination, Dec 2016. It wasn't very cold at all!
Filling 20 ml tubes with paint.
Almost finished with "When Will It Come?" Not so much sand, or wind, just cold—and the threat of rain. Behind me the sky was bright blue!
click image to see all 14 paintings
Painting en plein air beside a bulb field and canal, with Roos Schuring in Noordwiderhout.
Hollywood Rapids, James River I and II, each oil on canvas, 10x14", 2015
En plein air is a french term meaning 'in open (full) air'. Artists have always painted outdoors from life, but until the mid-19th century, it was usually regarded as a study, a reference for studio work.
The advances of science in the study of light , the improvement in travel (the steam engine train), and new painting equipment (metal tubes, portable easels) had a great influence on the group of painters who came to be known as the 'French Impressionists." It became much easier for them to work outdoors, capturing the changing light. This painting 'in the moment' had to be done quickly, in a more direct, alla prima, method than the glazed, multiple layered (indirect) technique of the academicians.
Although I paint in the studio, my extensive plein air work greatly informs my studio work. It also helps me avoid many of the pitfalls associated with working solely from photographs.
One significant development in the evolution of my plein air painting has been trying to get lighter (but still sturdy) field equipment. Currently I use an Open Box M easel/palette that weighs about 1.75 lbs, and and a Manfrotto tripod that is sturdy, lightweight (about 3 lbs?), and telescopes into 4 sections (easier to pack for travelling). This is very important for my overseas travelling. I can fit all that I need in a backpack—I usually leave the tripod in its overshoulder case and carry it separately.
Previously I used a typical french field easel, but they are heavy, and I found I needed a small dollie to cart it, and my supplies, around. An empty full french field easel can weigh 14 lbs, a half-easel can weigh 10 lbs. BUT, it can hold a canvas 32 inches high, so these are great if you like to do large plein air paintings (and you don't get blown over). I still use this occasionally, to meet very specific needs.
Many plein air painters try out lots of models before they find the one that is best for them. Or they may own several, to meet a variety of needs.
To travel I fill 20 ml tubes with the colors I will want to take with me. These are lighter and easier to carry. I label the tubes with the name, manufacturer, and C. I. Name. Yes, you can purchase these, but it is very expensive.
I have been chased by bumblebees (he won, but then he lost), caught in the rain, and sat in my car to paint while it snowed. I have watched a storm roll in, been barraged by Live Oak acorns —the term 'small but mighty' definitely applies here—painted in 40 degree weather, and had sand blow so hard that my painting was more sand than paint. The results are always worthwhile.
Addendum: While painting in April. 2016 on the beach of Katwijk aan Zee in Holland, I discovered that boots made me fearless...
Video of wind and sand on the first day of class
with Roos Schuring, The Netherlands.
click image to see video
Me painting at Hollywood Rapids on the James River from Belle Island.