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Planning Your Day: Tips and Tricks for Exploring Outdoors

Murray Phillips in the Opus Video,
A Conversation with My Canvas

You’ve put together the perfect painting kit or packed a pencil case with just the right materials – you’re ready to take your art outside! Not so fast. Taking a little time to set yourself up with some essentials can go a long way to a successful and fun day creating outdoors.

As you would with any other outdoor excursion, map out your route prior to leaving. This allows you to check the weather so you bring what you need to be comfortable, and to let a family member or friend know where you’ll be and when you’ll be returning to show them what you’ve created.

Important items to pack for your day include:

  • Printed and pre-loaded smartphone maps:
    Though these are more essential for longer outings, a map is a great resource to know where interesting focal points are, such as rivers, lakes, and landmarks.
  • A lunch and water for drinking:
    Don’t let hunger get in the way of your creativity! Bring snacks and stay hydrated for a pleasant outing.
  • A lightweight jacket:
    Rain can fall at any time, so having a waterproof jacket or an umbrella will ensure you’re prepared.
  • An apron with pockets:
    Pockets are great for holding brushes, paints, and pencils on-the-go.
  • Garbage bags, reusable containers, and cloths:
    It is important to pack out what you pack in and leave zero trash behind so the landscape is kept free of debris, and continues to thrive and provide inspiration for other artists.
  • A comfortable pair of shoes:
    Whether you’re walking for 15 minutes, hiking 3 hours, or standing or sitting for a long while, appropriate footwear is a must for a day of plein air.

Along with these essential supplies, there are many art materials designed for the outdoors. Items such as the slow-drying Golden OPEN Acrylics are great for painting in warm conditions, Water Brushes such as Koi, Holbein, and Pentel Aquash brushes offer a barrel that holds water so you don’t need to pack a container for water, and lightweight tripod easels such as the Panorama or Garibaldi Sketchbox Easel are great for travelling and keeping the weight of your pack to a minimum.

Now that your day is planned and you have the appropriate supplies, you are ready to begin! Go out on your own, or invite your friends and family for a beautiful day of creating outdoors.

For more information on what seasoned plein air artists pack, read our article Packing for Plein Air Success.