Your Plein Air Painting on Location Checklist

Be ready so you don’t have to get ready with a Plein Air Painting on Location Checklist. Keep your checklist handy, so when your ready to paint, everything you need is ready and waiting…

plein air painting on location checklist

Barn on the Sweat Ranch, Chewelah, Wa., oil, 11" x 14" Craig Shillam

Plein Air Painting on Location Checklist

Let’s face it, we all have probably been there. You get out in the middle of God’s beauty somewhere, ready to let it flow, and oh,  ****, I forgot my such and such. You stand a rock solid chance of never letting this happen to you again if you put together your own plein air painting on location checklist.

Now, let me shoot it to you straight. I am not a prolific outside painter at this point.  Some of you are and your good. I have painted and sketched outside for many years, but I wouldn’t call myself a plein air painter. I, in fact, hate the very term. When I was in college, we called it painting on location. Same thing, only in English, as far as I’m concerned. But I do plan to paint much more outside in the coming years, especially after hearing Ned Mueller talk about painting outside as being the best way to improve as a painter.

A while back I put together a list of things to take when painting outside or at a show or something, so I could focus more on what to do when I got to where I was going. Here is my list, but you should make your own, based on your needs and your technique.

Plein Air on Location Checklist

  • Paints  (don’t over do it, take what you need, not your whole stock)
  • Brushes (see above)
  • Spirits/Medium/Water (preferably not in a breakable container, and make sure it doesn’t leak)
  • Canvas, or the Painting substrate of your choice
  • Palette
  • Sketchpad (with pencil, pens, etc.)
  • Viewfinders (Get that composition nailed if it’s not coming to you right away)
  • Palette Knife (Hey, if you forget your brushes…:-)
  • Easel
  • Canvas Carrier
  • Trash Bags (leave it as clean as you found it)
  • Paper Towels (you need something to put in the trash bags)
  • Some type of folding stool or chair (even if you like to paint standing up, it’s nice to take a load off)
  • Drinking Water (You’re gonna work up a thirst out there, maybe bring some food too.)
  • Bug Spray ( Painting outside is challenging enough without those damn flies and mosquitoes) unless it’s winter, then it’s thick wool socks…
  • Cell Phone (Fully charged of course)
  • Camera
  • Business Cards (Unless your way out in the country, you will probably have a visitor or two, and if they will engage, they may possibly purchase. What a story it is for them when they tell their friends about your painting on their wall. Just be ready.)

Story Time…I was painting out by Lake Coeur d’Alene one summer evening near a popular walking trail. A lot of people stopped, visited, etc. It was good. There was one couple however, who wanted me to turn around in mid painting, and paint looking directly into the sun so I could capture the sunset. Well, I didn’t come out there to paint the sunset, and the light was great looking east, not west. Oh, well…back to our regularly scheduled article on the Plein Air Painting on Location Checklist…  

  • Small Mirror ( always check your work in a mirror. You might also see if there is anything stuck in your teeth after you just ate your sandwich because you have a plein air painting on location checklist, and you remembered a snack!)
  • On Location what if kit (masking or duct tape, level, pliers, screwdriver, utility knife, small tarp.)
  • Neutral clothing, not white
  • A hat, if you so choose (If you have a hat with a bill or a brim, a dark color underneath is preferred so as to not reflect so much light.)
  • hand cleaner, or gloves if you use those.

 Plein Air Painting on Location Checklist – 1 More Thing

 A good attitude! You want to paint or you wouldn’t be doing all this. Give it your best shot. If you don’t like what you see, be man or woman enough to give it a few more tries. If you still don’t like what you see, then be man or woman enough to give it even more tries. By this time you will be getting the hang of it, and you realize how much there is to learn! Be sure and check out the Plein Air Painters of America website for workshops, shows, and other great info.

Did I leave anything off of the plein air painting on location checklist? If so, please let me know by leaving a comment below. Get free and confidential email updates by leaving your email in the box in the upper right hand corner of this page. Thanks for reading and enjoy painting the great out doors!


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