Fun is the most important thing to have!
But you will need a medium such as paint or pastels, you’ll need paper, panels, or canvases, and brushes. Unless you’re a pastel painter. Then brushes might be a ‘nice to have.’
Please leave a comment on any additional supplies you suggest we add or suggestions to improve this page.
Paint behaves differently based on manufacturer, type of paint, age of paint, etc., so it is important to focus on your primary colors. Plein Air artists often work with a limited palette because it requires them to mix their own shades and hues of colors instead of relying on tube that looks right. The results tend to be richer and more nuanced.
A quick reminder for us all; the three primary colors:
The following is a suggested limited palette of colors for painting en plein air:
- Ultramarine Blue
- Alizarin Crimson
- Cadmium Red Light
- Burnt Sienna
- Cadmium Yellow Lemon (or Light)
- Cadmium Yellow Deep (or medium)
- Yellow Ochre
- Titanium White
- Ivory Black
These are the colors we recommend, but feel free to bring whatever you already use and are comfortable with, but do keep in mind a limited palette can be your friend.
A variety of Flats, Filberts, and Rounds, primarily: #6, #8, #10. Please feel free to bring what you have in those sizes. For Plein Air painting, it is recommended to avoid tiny brushes. Also, you may like to bring/purchase 2 Egberts, which is a long Filbert.
Brands respected among professional artists are Signet, Silver Brush Grand Prix, Windsor & Newton Artists’ Oil Brushes, and Princeton 6300 rounds.
Signet brand #2 and #4 can be purchased at any online art store or at your local art supply store.
It’s a good idea to have at least 6 – 8 small canvases or panels in varying sizes like 8×10, 9×12, 11×14, and 16×20 for the week. Keep in mind the size restrictions for the competition and exhibit being no larger than 24 inches on any side. So a 16×20 picture would require a 2 inch frame or smaller.
While there are many kinds of canvases and paper, it is important to use a type made for the medium you choose. There’s a thing called toothiness for paper that matters if you’re using pastels but not so much the watercolor painter and not at all for the oil painter.
Then there is the matter of panel versus stretched canvas. Some like the bounce of a stretched canvas, others the stable service of a panel. In the end, it’s what fits in your bag and is comfortable for you to work on.
Some reputable brands include Centurion DX Oil Primed Linen Boards, Fredrix Linen Boards, and Sourcetek Linen Boards. For stretched canvas or linens includes Fredrix and Raphael Oil Primed Linen.
Many options are available. This is something you just need to try out and see what fits your style. Some suggestions are Open Box M 10×12 palette/panel holder with a Bogen Junior tripod in the field. Portable easels include Soltek, Guerilla Box, French Easel, and Artwork Essential EASy-L.
Additional Recommended Supplies
- Gamsol or Turpenoid. No regular solvents or anything purchased from a hardware store.
- An apron
- A palette (if not included in your portable easel).
- Container for washing brushes (Holbein brush cleaner, etc.)
- Paper towels and small trash bags
- Sketch Book and pencils/pen
- Palette knife
- A small cup/dish for medium (optional)
- A small color wheel
- A sun hat
- Tissues ie. Kleenex
- Bottled water
- Bug repellant
- Some artists appreciate a light weight folding chair
- A sense of humor