My equipment list for painting plein air with oil paint in the landscape.
This is a list of the equipment I take when painting with oils plein air. There are links in the description to the shops I bought them from. All of this fits in a back pack and panniers on a mountain bike, which gives me the freedom to explore the surrounding countryside easily and to be able to stop pretty much anywhere and set up the tripod and pochard box.
I bought this lightweight box from Ken Bromley art supplies, www.artsupplies.co.uk It's the larger box that fits 10 x 12 inch paintings, there is a drawer underneath with compartments where I keep my oil paints and thinners reservoir. As well as a palette and space for two panels.
Camera tripod mounting bracket
I also bought from Ken Bromley a metal plate that I attached to the bottom of the pochard box link here . This allows me to attach a tripod to the pochard box. (I had to glue
a piece of 3mm hardboard to the bottom of the pochard box
with PVA glue. Otherwise the screws would come through
the base of the box, it also added strength to the base of the box)
There are so many tripods available to buy it can be a bit of a
minefield as to what to look for. But after trying two tripods which
were either too big and heavy or too light and flimsy I had learnt
what I needed in a tripod which were these:
1. Being light enough but still sturdy enough to handle the weight
of the pochard box in coastal winds.
2. Finding a tripod small enough when folded down to fit easily
into a back pack.
3. The cost, I was looking for something fairly basic but strong.
4. A tripod with a quick release ball head so it's easy to angle the
pochard box if on uneven ground, and with the quick release to be
able to quickly release the pochard box from the tripod.
With all that in mind, I chose a national geographic tripod from a
second hand seller on Amazon.
I changed the head of the tripod to a manfrotto ball head, but
the ball head that comes with the tripod is fine, it's just a little bit more fiddly to release.
The tripod can take up to 6kg in weight, it also packs down to 44 cm, which is great to put
into my back pack. So far I've been very happy with it, there is
a bit of movement but nothing like as bad as my previous tripod which was completely
I mainly use Windsor & Newton: Winton,
of which I usually buy from Jacksons Art.com .
The colours I tend to use in the pochard box are:
Cadmium red (I rarely use this but it's handy to have)
Alizarin Crimson or Permanent Rose
Ivory black (I use sparingly)
Thinners & Cleaners
In the past I have used turpentine for thinning paint and
white spirit for cleaning the brushes then giving them a final
wash with soap and warm water. But last year I discovered a
less harmful thinner for me and the environment, which is
Zest it Oil paint dilutant and brush cleaner which I buy
from Jacksons Art. Once I'm home I thoroughly clean
the brushes with Johnsons baby oil which strips off the
paint beautifully. I then wash them in warm soap and water.
I carry two brush tubes, one for my clean brushes and the other
for used brushes from that painting session. They were my
Fathers painting tubes. Unfortunately I was unable to find them
online, but two of these extendable tubes from Amazon would
do, and just label 'dirty brushes' on one of the tubes. That way
you can clean them with the remaining thinners from the
reservoir on the palette and using some kitchen towel to dry
them a little, so most of the paint is cleaned off them.
Then pack them in the 'dirty tube', and once you're home you can
then give them a thorough clean with Johnsons baby oil and
then soap and warm water.
Kitchen towel, great for cleaning the palette, spills, and roughly
cleaning the brushes too.
A small bin liner for keeping all the used kitchen
towels in and any other rubbish.
A small reservoir for thinners which attaches to the
palette, pictured right. I only tend to fill this less than
half full which means when I have finished painting I
can use the remaining thinners to clean the brushes
and wipe clean with kitchen towel.
So that's it, I hope this helps guide you a little into how to start painting in oils outside, it is really fun and completely different from working indoors or in a studio.