Art Habit #9

I had a professor once who took students on study trips all over the world. He was very wise. He suggested packing for a trip, then taking your suitcase for a walk around the block. Don’t use the wheels, walk in the grass, and then carry it up and down a couple flights of stairs. If it is too heavy to manage, go home and take some stuff out of your bag!

Too much stuff is a terrible burden when traveling. Not having what you need is also a problem.

I also set up before plein air trips. Painting outside can be tricky. The seeing and painting part is hard enough, you don’t want to be fussing with your easel.

My solution: set everything up in the comfort of your home. Then imagine painting. Don’t set things on your counter, you won’t have your counter in the woods or on the beach with you. Then repack and do this process again in your yard. Paint a painting. Make a note of what you wished you had. Do you need a clip to hold your value study, a bungee to hold your paper towels? This is a frustrating feeling when you are out painting and you need something at home in your garage or junk drawer.

I once got a brand new easel for a painting trip. It was a slightly shorter version of this easel I had used for 200 hundred paintings. Did I follow my advise and set it up before I left? NO, it was the SAME easel right? I set up on a very busy beach, within 10 seconds a crowd of people were asking if they could watch me paint. Did I say “sure, come back in 30 min?” No I said “sure!” Then I proceeded to scramble and fumble. I failed to get the easel set up. I was dropping nuts and bolts everywhere in the sand. Later I rode my bike into town and looked up the number and called the company. “Did you watch the video on assembly” they asked? Some key pieces had been reversed for shipping! I could have avoided this headache by following my own advice.

Plein air painting might not be your thing, but the advice holds in other situations. I pack and then set up outside my studio before doing a demo. Do I have everything I need? Have I thought this through?

If you need a plein air trip to look forward to, I have an oil and pastel workshop coming up! Sign up here

Plein Air- Oil Painting Supply List

There are a thousand roads to Rome, this list is just one list of workable supplies. I have used other supplies in the past, this is what is currently in my plein air oil painting backpack:

A field easel.  I am currently using “daytripper” easel and a Dolcia tripod. It has a wonderful large pallette and is super simple to setup. I have used: a Jullian easel, and several different pochade boxes. Like most plein air artists I am always looking for the perfect setup. Trade offs are size, weight, and ease of set up.

Apron, and sun hat, sunscreen, bug spray, water bottle, packaged snack.  Layered clothes to keep warm or cool. It is MUCH harder to paint if you are uncomfortable so I work hard to keep myself comfortable.

Flat bristle brushes sizes #8, #10, #12 – Rosemary flat classics are my favorite A palette knife.

Paint – a minimum viable set would include a large tube of white, and at least (red, yellow, and blue)

My colors vary. My staples include: aliziran crimson, cadmium red light, cadmium yellow light or azo yellow, cadmium yellow dark,  Burnt Umber, ultramarine, cerulean blue, sap green. There are many Optional colors, If you buy one more I would buy orange, and king’s blue. Then turquoise blue, quinacrodone rose, greenish umber, yellow ochre.  I usually use Rembrandt or gamblin brand.  Van Gough is passable.  Pliers to open paint tubes.  I use mine almost every day.

ODOR FREE mineral spirits and a jar or something to put it in- I use gamsol and a turp jar made for cleaning brushes, it has a wire insert to allow paint to settle to the bottom and give you something to clean your brush on.  You can also use gamblin solvent free gel, and you can fly with the gel (I use both the gel and gamsol to wash my brushes).  

Paper towels, or Kleenex, or rags (i use a chord or bungee to attach to my easel – a good thing to figure out in advance).  Some small bags to put trash in, I use a pop up trash bucket that I hang from my easel.

I like to wear disposable gloves

I use linseed oil soap to wash my brushes.

I use something called a palette garage to preserve my paint.  It saves paint and time in the field. No waste, and it allows me to pre squeeze my paint before starting. A Tupperware, or Saran Wrap would also help keep paint fresh.

Panels and wet panel carrier to fit those panels.

I like working small and doing many paintings, rather than fewer large paintings.  I am currently working 8×10, 8×8, 6×8, and 4×8 size.  I can store them all in the 8×10 panel carrier made by raymar.  I work as small as small 5×7.  A really good painting day for me is 4 paintings a day.  The most I ever Painted was 12!  I love raymar panels, but they are expensive!  I usually use something cheaper like Centurion.

App: ‘Notanizer” $2 for android and iOS 

I carry notecards and markers for value studies. They are also useful for making painting notes (time, location, title etc) I use blank Notecards, a black and grey marker, and a pencil and pen.  I also keep a small roll of tape to tape notecards to the backs of panels. 

I put all of this in my Kelty backpacking pack. I like having a big enough pack not have to cram. I also like having a good waist belt to help me carry the load down the trail.

I find these kinds of lists interesting and helpful. Perhaps it will inspire you to go out and paint!

Something Big


Those are feet not inches. Those specs by the ladder are my daughters and I. We are small, but we are not “Honey I Shrunk the Kids Small.” This is a giant work of art.

I love my church, and they are doing something HUGE. It is a journey to the Cross. I am charged with painting the Centurion soldiers. My part of this project is a small piece of the whole, and a really huge painting. My friend Kevin, a gifted theologian, helped guide me in getting my head around who these guys were. I spend a couple weeks studying up, and I have started painting. There is more information about what Journey to the Cross is below. I think it will be Holocaust museum impactful. It is for all ages (English and Spanish), and will be free but you need to reserve a ticket. If you are an artist or someone who wants to be artistic and in Dallas and want to come spend a couple hours helping me, I would love to work with you. I just have a couple weeks to get this done. Message or email me for details.

Dallas, TX: Church of the Incarnation will host Journey to the Cross, a special experience: an interactive art exhibit open to the public April 10–13. The exhibition will draw believers and non-believers alike into the compelling story of the central figure of the Christian faith and his final days on earth before his death, burial, and resurrection. In these largerthanlife art installations, scripture is experienced in new ways, offering more with which to wrestle, beyond what we’ve ever read or been told.


The artistic vision for this experience has been led and cultivated by renowned local artists Pamela Nelson, exhibited in more than 100 national venues, and visual artsinnovator, Aaron Bensko among others. With a team of artists and partners from area churches, they have worked together for more than two years to deliver the beauty and power of the Easter story in this way.


There will be age-appropriate guidance for children to receive this story in a safe but impactful way, as well as Spanish translations for all ages.


 Exhibit Dates: Wednesday, April 10–Saturday, April 13


 Tickets are free, but a reservation is required to make sure only small groups move through the experience at a time


 Reservations are available at


About Church of the Incarnation: Church of the Incarnation is an Episcopal church in the Anglican Communion located in Uptown at 3966 McKinney Ave.The church is rooted in ancient faith and makes worship accessible to modern life.

Sign up here