Recently I spent a month painting with the Emerald Coast Plein Air Painters. These artists meet every week (rain, shine, or fog) along the Gulf shores of the Florida panhandle. While it was usually warm enough to paint outdoors, the weather conditions (especially the winds and high humidity) were not always conducive to my trimmed-down urban sketching travel kit.
First of all, I discovered that while shoes were optional, an easel is almost an essential paint tool for combatting the winds and capturing the rapidly changing light.
As a minimum, some masking tape and a back board would have been useful for keeping my paper in one place. You can only attach so many binder clips to your journal before they start getting in the way of your hand and brush.
Most of the painters tended to work in acrylics or oils – a much more workable medium under adverse weather conditions and if a little sand blows into your painting, it just adds texture. Some people used brushes, others palette knives, and some even used cut-up credit cards.
A few artists painted in watercolor (my preferred medium), but when you’re painting in high humidity or fog where the paint doesn’t want to dry and there’s no hand-dryer in the restrooms, it’s best to paint wet-in-wet. It would have helped if I’d had good paper and a variety of brushes (like a mop, fan, and liner), rather than my waterbrush and mixed media journal.
The one thing I noticed during our weekly critique was that many of the paintings reflected a mood, rather than a replica of the scene. That’s a very good goal to have when trying to finish a painting in only 3 hours and under varying conditions.
Unfortunately my travel kit was reduced even further when my seat cushion blew off the dock at the marina. But even with my limited supplies, I still had a ball painting with this fun group of people.