Jul 28, 2016

What does a Plein Air Trip look like? Part 2 - Painting & Drawing Tips


I guess you could call this: What does a Plein Air Painting Trip REALLY look like.  

You have seen the glamour and some of the great results (see last post here) And did I tell you I sold 4 of the paintings before I even got home.  First of all, when I talk about a Painting Trip I am not talking about a day trip, I mean setting out for a week or more.  That's when things get interesting: you get to emerge yourself into the new place, you really get a chance to 'go for it'.  Painting/drawing as you travel about or while you are set up at one place, makes for an awesome adventure. 

However, for any adventure to be a success there has to be some planning first.  

Going for more than 3 weeks means lots of stuff - Max, my new assistant is first in line for any trip!!
The first thing to remember is you can not take everything; this is not your studio.  This is different.  You need to think about the kind of traveling you will be doing and what kind of painting/drawing situations you will have.  For example, when we did a 10 day canoe trip on the Bowron Lakes in central BC there was no room for big painting packs of any kind.  I took my basic kit: small book, pigma pen and small paint set.  This can be shrunk down to just book and pen.  That's what I did for my first kayak sketch.  (Didn't want to worry about losing anything overboard till I knew what I was doing!)

BASIC KIT: Great to capture a moment, make a sketch for future planning, work out an idea
So basically there are several types of painting/drawing situations on a traveling trip: 

1. Little time and/or not able to pack much: use your basic kit

2. 1-3 hr. and/or limited to how much you want/can carry: This is when my paint bag comes out.  I have all my gear to paint with watercolours, camera, towel, snack and drinking water.  You will find me settled on a log or rock somewhere painting away.  (see it on the right had side of my full gear picture.) 

3. 1-3 hr but able to drive to the spot (not long walks with all your gear); this is what I call the Comfort Zone.  Now I have my paint bag, much larger snack, lots of water, a chair and umbrella.
Ahhhh. . . Comfort Zone - comfy chair, and lots of shade lets me paint anywhere
4.  2-4 hr. no packing of any kind: To me this is an Outdoor Studio, seldom happens in real life.  I have this some times when we are at Texada Island as there are some lovely forested campsites and ocean side campsites.  When we are lucky enough to get one of them I can set up and paint right there. Now we are talking an easels, large umbrella, big palette and more. 

As you  can see, where you are going and how much room you will have plays a big part in your packing.  I know that the 2.5 weeks we spend on Texada I will be able to spend time and use bigger packs but once we get on the move I will drop down to my paint bag or basic kit.  My other stuff will end up buried in the back of the truck.  Also you have probably figured out by now you will not be working on 30 x 40 canvases as you might have done in the studio.  Traveling and painting means working smaller.  I generally use a paint board to mount my paper on and work with 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 images.  I am more detailed and I know I can finish that size in a reasonable amount of time.  If it is too big and your don't work fast enough the light will have changed or the tide gone out and you are hooped.  I may only work 1-2 hours each day on a spot, returning the next day when the light is the same to finish it up.  That is the luxury of staying at one place for several days. 

There is one important item that should be there no matter what size your pack is.

What is that you ask?  One most artists forget.  Their press kit.  When you work out and about, people seeing you and are interested in what you do. Be ready. The minimum press kit is A Business Card.  Make sure you have a pack.  I have a container with me that includes: cards, memo pads, picture magnets and business cards.  Yes, they are priced and I do sell them. Also, I have mats, clear bags and labels so I can properly display any picture I do paint.  At the campsites people often see me painting and they stop by to see what 'I did' that day.  A wonderful way to finish the day talking about the places and things we did and saw that day.  I often learn about new places to go as well.

Time to plan your trip and get packing.

I think the real question now is How does painting/drawing fit into the day when others are around?  Again, if you are traveling alone, painting is your focus, you will not be concerned. But for the rest of us, we have others in the group.  In my case, a husband, a non-painter and our new puppy,  Max.   At 4 months, he is only an assistant-in-training.  Fitting everything in requires more planning.  I have a few helpful hints in my next post. What does a Plein Air Trip look like? Part 3

If you missed my post series on Drawing Tips for summer fun check them out.  It is a four part series starting here.  

Looking for a starting point in your drawing?  I will be happy to get you up and running.  Call me now and set up a few lessons to get you on the road to a summer of fun with your art.

Special Note: Looking for a fun Plein Air Painting Festival centered on an historic site? Right here in the Fraser Valley. August 26, 27, & 28. Prizes for everyone at all levels.  $15 - www.kilby.ca to register and get more information.  See you there.

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Have a great artful day, Wendy


Brenda Hill CDM said...

great post Wendy

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Glad to hear you found it helpful. I hope you noticed how well Max sat for his picture, pretty good for a 4 month old, eh?