Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The World is Your Studio: What to Pack for the Perfect Plein Air Setup

Are you ready to start working en plein air? Outdoor Artist, a special issue from the editors of our community of fine art publications, is full of tips, techniques and step-by-steps to get you painting en plein air like a pro.

plein air setup


Can’t wait to start? Here’s a sneak peek inside the pages of Outdoor Artist, with insightful tips from renowned artist Richard McKinley on the best plein air setup.

“Perfecting a plein air setup takes some time and experience to discover what, for you, is a necessity and what’s a luxury.” —Richard McKinley

8 Items to Pack Before Heading Out On a Plein Air Excursion

1. Gator Board painting support (black). I tape my pastel paper to a larger Gator Board support with drafting tape and then surround it with black masking tape toward the finish for evaluation. I hold together two supports with binder clips for safe transportation.

2. Heilman pastel travel palette and an Easel Butler support system. The Easel Butler attaches to any tripod or A-frame easel and has arms to support a palette. I secure my palette to the tripod with a bungee cord that wraps around the back of the front legs.

3. Photographer’s aluminum tripod. Look for one that can be folded into a smaller size for easy transport, yet is strong enough to support your pastel palette.

4. Heilman easel attachment mounted to the tripod camera quick-release ball head. An accessory plate from Heilman allows for its easel attachment to 
be mounted to a camera quick-release plate, making it versatile and easily adjusted.

5. Tripod rock bag. This attaches to the legs of the 
tripod and can hold numerous painting accessories such as a sketchbook, extra pastels, paper towels, etc. In windy situations, rocks or water bottles can 
be added to provide weight and increase stability.

6. Heilman accessory tray. This plastic tray attaches 
to the lip of the Heilman pastel palette, extending the working space of the palette. It’s handy for holding extra pastels, pencils and viewfinders.

7. Padded commuter bag. Transporting the pastel 
palette and other miscellaneous painting equipment is best done with a strong shoulder bag or backpack. It can also be leaned against or attached to a leg of the tripod for added stability.

8. A hat with a brim is a necessity when painting. Whether the sun is in your eyes, it will shade them and increase the accuracy of your vision.


Richard McKinley

Richard McKinley shares his tips for the ideal plein air setup.


Now that you know what to pack, you’re one step closer to mastering your plein air skills. Remember: The world is your studio. Check out the special issue Outdoor Artist for more great tips and tricks for working in the open!


Share Your Outdoor Art Bloopers with Us!

Now that summer is fast-approaching, more and more artists will head outside, whether for a quick break from the studio, a creative stroll or to make art in the company of Mother Nature.

Every artist knows that working outdoors isn’t always a walk in the park. We want to hear all about your funny, not so picture-perfect outdoor art experiences. Tell us your story by using #MyArtBurn across your favorite social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Learn more about #MyArtBurn and how you can win a free issue of Outdoor Artist here .


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