Plein-air painting is a captivating art form that allows artists to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty. To embark on this artistic journey, having the right tools is essential. This blog post will delve into the details of each tool you need for plein air painting, including product recommendations to ensure you’re well-prepared to create your masterpiece in the great outdoors.

Easel: The Foundation of Your Outdoor Studio

Recommended Product: Sienna Plein Air All-in-One Pochade Box
The Sienna Plein Air Pochade Box is an excellent choice for any artist looking to get into plein-air painting as it features a lightweight and adjustable easel. It also accommodates canvases of various sizes and can be easily anchored to a tripod, making it stable on uneven terrain! The pochade has three storage compartments under the sliding wood palette, as well as a brush tray that stows away on the back, making it perfect to store and transport everything you need when you step outside to paint.

Canvas or Painting Surface

Recommended Product: Arches Watercolor Paper
Arches Watercolor Paper is renowned for its quality and durability, which is definitely something to keep in mind when you’re looking to take your artist journey to the outdoors. It’s available in various sizes and weights to suit your preferences and the medium you’re using, whether watercolor or gouache.

Paints: A Palette of Colors

Recommended Product: Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor Set
Winsor & Newton’s watercolor sets are revered by artists for their high pigmentation and vibrancy. Consider their professional range, which offers a wide selection of colors in a compact and travel-friendly format. This specific set offers a number of mixing surfaces, a slide-out palette, and a mediums dish to ensure you have everything you need to bring your painting to life in the great outdoors.

Brushes: Tools of Precision

Recommended Product: Princeton Artist Brush Neptune Series
Princeton Artist Brush’s Neptune Series offers an impressive range of synthetic brushes that mimic the feel of natural sable brushes. They are known for their precision, durability, and ability to hold plenty of paint for outdoor painting sessions.

Palette: Mixing Colors on the Go

Recommended Product: New Wave POSH Glass Artist Palette
The New Wave POSH Glass Artist Palette is a versatile and durable option designed to be taken with you on the go. Its non-porous glass surface allows for easy color mixing and effortless cleaning, while the ergonomic design ensures a comfortable grip. This palette can also be used as a glass palette for oil painting and as a palette for acrylic paint.

Mediums and Solvents: Enhancing Your Work

Recommended Product: Gamblin Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits
Gamblin Gamsol is a favorite solvent among oil painters. It’s odorless, low in toxicity, and effective at cleaning brushes and diluting oil paints. Plus, it’s travel-friendly in a small container.


Equipped with these essential tools and specific product recommendations, you’re ready to embark on your plein air painting journey. The right equipment not only ensures a successful creative process but also enhances your connection with the natural world. So, choose your location, pack your gear, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors while creating art that reflects the wonders of nature.


What is plein air painting, and how is it different from studio painting?

Plein air painting, which translates to “open air” painting, is the practice of creating art outdoors in the presence of the natural landscape you aim to depict. It involves capturing the immediate surroundings, including the changing light, colors, and atmosphere. In contrast, studio painting is done indoors and often relies on photographs or memory as references. The key difference lies in the direct engagement with nature and the challenge of capturing its essence in real time.

What art supplies are essential for plein air painting?

Essential plein air painting supplies include an easel, canvas or painting surface, paints, brushes, a palette, mediums and solvents, containers for water, paper towels, and cleaning rags. The choice of supplies may vary depending on your preferred medium (oil, acrylic, watercolor). Sun protection gear, a chair or stool, and bug repellent are also beneficial for a comfortable outdoor painting experience.

How do I choose the right location for plein air painting?

Selecting the right location is crucial. Start by considering the mood and atmosphere you wish to convey in your artwork. Think about the time of day, season, and weather that best align with your artistic vision. Additionally, choose a place that resonates with you personally, as your connection to the landscape will be evident in your work. It’s helpful to scout locations in advance to find the perfect spot.

How do I deal with changing light and weather conditions while painting outdoors?

Changing light and weather conditions are part of the challenge and beauty of plein-air painting. To adapt, work quickly and decisively to capture the initial impression. Some artists create smaller studies on-site and use them as references for larger studio works. To deal with changing weather, prepare with appropriate clothing and gear, and have a plan for unexpected conditions.

Do I need formal art training to start plein air painting?

No, you don’t need formal art training to start plein air painting. While art education can be beneficial, plein air painting is accessible to artists of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals. The practice encourages learning through experience and personal expression. You can start with basic tools, gradually develop your skills, and benefit from the direct connection with nature as a valuable teacher.