I love to paint outside on location. I find paintings done from life almost always have a wonderful liveliness and vibrancy. Managing equipment on location is something I have spent the better part of two decades figuring out. I have had several people ask me for a breakdown of my supplies, so without further ado…

Above is what is currently in my plein air backpack:

EASEL – I use one of 2 easels for pastels

I love the Mabel mini field easel. It is easy to use, easy to pack out, and it holds a rigid pastel box very securely. It is a handsome wooden easel (which appeals to me), and it has a reasonable price tag. The only downside I see is that it is a little long to fit in a small suitcase.

I also use a Tripod with a Panel holder and a Easel butler. This works well with a bungee cord hold the pastel box to the easel butler arms. This set up (pictured above) is lighter weight, and slightly smaller than the Mabef easel. I use it when I am also going to be painting in oil, or traveling by plane. I store the panel holder and easel Butler in the zipper bag with the tripod.


I love Uart 400 grit paper. I carry it, cut to size, and gator board panels slightly bigger than that paper. I also use wet dry sandpaper (400 grit) that I purchase from an industrial supply company.


I carry a mix of pastels in a Heilman box, my pastels are a mix of soft and nupastels, with colors chosen for where I am going to be. I have many kinds of pastels; Great American, Terry Ludwig, and Sennelier (Sennelier half sticks only not full sticks). I organize them by value and temperature.

I carry a number of other things:

Notecards, grey markers, and a pen for making notes, labeling paintings, and doing value studies. Gloves, baby wipes, and a small pop up trash can. Clear envelopes to put finished artwork in, this allows me a practical way to show people unfinished paintings without them smearing. A portfolio to store finished work in. Clips and tape to hold paper to the support panel, I love bankers clips because they easily slide, so I can paint an entire painting edge to edge. Apron, Sunhat, insect repellent, sunscreen, snack, and water. I use a sturdy school sized backpack to hold all these items.

I keep this pack loaded in case an opportunity ever pops up. I also have an almost identical setup that has no easel and has a smaller version of everything. I will post that tomorrow.

Happy painting! Juliana

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