I have been having great fun roaming around southern Ontario farms, parks and conservation areas. I am filling up my ‘creative well’ with images of terrific locations full of wonderful scenes that need painting! I take lots of photographs so I can have great reference shots of all these scenic areas to use back in my studio. Lately I have been heading outside to paint with my like minded artist friends in tow. It’s always freeing yet a challenge when painting outside on location or ‘plein air’. Sometimes the burden of taking all you might need to paint on location can have you feeling like a pack mule dragging under the weight of it all.
So most recently in my planning I decided to pack very lightly bringing only the bare bones of art material I needed. Watercolours are a good fit when you are out and about because you don’t need to take an easel or canvasses or a large mixing palette with multiple tubes of paint as you would with acrylics. For my ‘kit’ I chose to bring my tiny travel watercolour paint set. It’s wonderfully compact with 12 pans of different colours inside and its lid becomes a mixing palette once opened, so clever. Inside is also a lovely springy and pointy watercolour brush .
I buy my watercolour paper in blocks which is much like how a post-it note works. The watercolour paper pages are stacked with gummed edges so you just peel the paper away to reveal the next page. It has a strong backing board to the pad which makes it super stable to paint on and keeps your paper nice and flat. I take an additional small mixing palette, paper towels, a spray bottle to keep paint moist and a recycled margarine container for my water bowl along with some extra different sized brushes. I take masking tape too in case I need to tape things down on a windy day. With the use of an old metal TV table as my surface, a 3 legged camp stool and of course the ever so important lunch goodies I am all set to paint on location.
This farm scene of its golden soybean fields and distant trees was lovely to paint. The sky was big and open with wind blown clouds racing across it. The temperature had dropped from summer’s heat to a gusty cool humidity free 14c. But the sun was shining on our backs and lighting up those fields which made it all just perfect. To start my painting I did a simple pencil sketch then launched into creating the turbulent sky using winsor and ultramarine blues leaving the white of the paper to show through. I did layers of yellow/gold washes with cadmium yellow and yellow ochre for the fields then added the scrubby plants along its edge with mixes of winsor green, burnt umber and magenta. There was a delightful mix of wild flowers dotted amongst those weeds.
Once our painting session was over the take down process was quick and easy. I bungee corded my stool to my collapsed TV table for handy carrying and the rest into a tote bag. I use large zip lock bags to hold the wet containers and palettes. I have a special fabric case designed to hold my brushes that zips closed to protect their bristles. We always check to be sure that we have only left footprints behind and then happily head back to our cars for the trip home after another fun and successful painting adventure.