Learning to paint plein air: materials

I been going outdoors to paint plein air again this summer, both as a teacher and just for fun. Therefore, I’m also a student, trying to improve.

I thought I’d share what I take with me. Today I’ll show my oil painting kit, and next time I’ll show what I take for watercolor.

Oil paints:

This is the kit I use. A Julian French easel, still the industry standard, as far as I know.

materials for plein air painting French Easel, open


I love it. It’s compact, comes I straps for carrying, a zippered bag for traveling with it, and it can adapt to uneven terrain, if you’re standing in a slope for example. The drawer slides out, giving you access to the brushes and stuff under the drawer of paint.

Not shown, but other things you should bring with you: drinking water, a hat, small folding table or tv tray, folding stool to sit on, tape, a bag for trash.



materials for plein air painting; French easel, open
materials for plein air painting French easel, open showing palette and brushe






Paints  (small tubes)   

materials for plein air painting oil paints

Titanium white, Zinc white, Burnt umber, Burnt Sienna, Yellow ochre, Ivory black,   Cadmium red light, Alizarin crimson, Cadmium yellow medium, Cadmium yellow light, Nickel yellow,  Courbet Green, Sap green, Cobalt teal, Cobalt blue, Cerulean blue, Pthalo blue, Ultramarine blue

This set of colors gives me three color schemes I can choose to use: light and airy, bold, or earth tones.

Pencils (2B, 4B) and a sketch book

Canvases, panels, or canvas boards, whatever size you’re comfortable with. Bring an extra one.

Rags or a roll of paper towels or both

Brushes– the basics brush types are round, bright, flat and filbert

The brushes I carry are shown above, along with palette and painting knifes, and a couple of old brushes that create unusual textures:

materials for plein air painting Brushes

Hog bristle:

1@ #12 Bright, 1@Round//1 ea @#8, #6, #4 round, //2@ #8 flat

Soft synthetic bristle:

2@ #18 Flat, (only one showing)// 2 or 3 each #10, #8, #4, #2

4 palette/painting knives

2 dried-up brushes with stiff bristles for drawing into wet paint

Palette knifeor Painting knifefor mixing paints and/or painting with

Mediums or thinners  for acrylics:bring water and container:  plastic yogurt or Tupperware, for mixing and cleaning.  Gloss medium

For oils:  you won’t need a lot of painting medium: buy a jar of pre-made painting medium and keep the jar for future use. You’ll also want small tin cups that attach to your palette and a small (2-3”) glass jar or can with a lid to carry out your cleaner. Pour it into another jar or can, let the crud settle to the bottom for a day or two and pour off the clean thinner off the top.

This entry was posted in Paintings, Teaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Learning to paint plein air: materials

  1. That Left Handed Artist says:

    A wonderful blog post! I think I’ll tackle plien air painting soon. It seems fun and peaceful, and I’ve wanted to work on my landscapes… thank you for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.