This supply list covers what I consider necessary for painting outdoors. I try to limit my
gear to just what is essential. If you already have a plein air set up feel free to bring what you are comfortable with. The supply list below is what I like to have with me, and it is definitely not mandatory that you buy all new equipment if you already have something that works. I get most of my supplies online. It’s great to support the local art stores, but you can often get supplies for half the price online. There are art-supply chain stores that are very affordable, like Dick Blick, Cheap Joes, and several others.
Portable easel
There are lots of options for easels, from a traditional French box easel to a lightweight pochade box. There is a blog that did a great review of pochade boxes, which may help in your decision if you are buying one new.
I have a few different easels, and the one I use most often is the EasyL from Artwork Essentials. I also have a Strada easel which I use when I travel, and a French box easel, and a Take-it-easel for when I do larger paintings on site (probably not ideal for class, but a great easel). These easels can all be found online if you google the name. Look around and ask your friends what they use to find the one that’s right for you.
Brush Washer or some type of sealing turpentine jar. I have used old peanut butter or honey jars for this, but they don’t seal up perfectly, which can lead to leaks if not stored upright. Now I use a metal one, which is about $25 at Utrecht.
Odorless Mineral Spirits
You can pick up a small can of Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits or Weber Odorless Turpenoid from Utrecht. This is an odorless solvent for washing brushes and thinning paint. I very much prefer people NOT use regular turpentine, as the smell can be intense and gives some people,
including me, headaches. The odorless turpentine acts much the same in how it mixes with the paint and is much easier to be around.
Several brushes
Whatever brushes you use, I do not want you to bring only small brushes, or brushes that are worn down to a small hard nub of bristles. My brushes of choice are cheap ones from Utrecht: Most often I use the “Finest Chunking White Hog Bristle Brushes, Series 209: Flats.” My favorite sizes are the #4, #8, and #12. I prefer flat brushes to other shapes. You may want 1 or 2 of each, or whatever you’re comfortable with. After seeing the condition of some of the brushes people
have brought to previous classes, I would ask that you at least have a couple of newer brushes. I also usually have one small, soft brush for some detail work. Generally I get a round sablette brush from Utrecht, and it works just fine.
A palette knife is also handy to have for scraping paint off a canvas and cleaning your palette. Palette knives come in all shapes and sizes, but I have found that my favorite is the 3 ¼” diamond, Utrecht brand knife.
Some people use paper towels for this, but that always seems wasteful to me so I prefer
an old t-shirt or towel that I cut up. These I can use for a few days and then throw out. If you use paper towels, you will need a plastic grocery bag, or some other way to collect discards.
Tote Bag
You’ll need some kind of bag that can carry all of this stuff around. I use a backpack with a lot of little pockets, but a canvas tote can also work.
Oil Paints
The following is my palette. If you have other colors you are more comfortable with, bring them along. These are what I’ll have on my palette during demos. As for brand of paint, I often use Gamblin paints. They are not too expensive, and I like how they work. For a less expensive option, you can try Utrecht brand.
The basic set up:
Titanium White (this is the one color you will want a large tube of)
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Lemon
Quinacridone Red
Cadmium Red Medium
Ultramarine Blue
Pthalo Blue-Green, or Windsor Blue-Green Shade (these days I usually use the Windsor)
Burnt Sienna
I also use a color
called Alizarine Yellow, made by Williamsburg Paints.
Canvas Panels
We will be doing some exercises and have some time to work on more polished work. For the exercises you can use a pad of canvas, cheap panels, gessoed paper, or anything you prefer to work on. If you want something nicer to work on for the longer painting sessions, I often use Raymar panels, oil primed linen on composite board. Panels tend to be easier to travel with, but I leave those decisions to you. You want to make sure to at least have two canvases of at least 12×16” for each day. You can always bring a bit larger if you like to work big.
The benefit of panels over stretched canvas, is that when traveling you can slide them into a panel carrier. I have a carrier that holds 6 wet 11×14” paintings with no problem. This is not essential for us, but can be handy for long road trips or flights. You can look for a carrier like this at the Raymar-art website. If you are going to be traveling with wet paintings, it is beneficial to have all canvases of one size. That way you will only need one wet panel carrier.