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Essential equipment list for en plein air painting in oil paint.

Updated: 6 days ago

This is my essential equipment list I take when painting with oil paint en plein air. There are links in the description to the shops I bought them from. All of this fits in a back pack and panniers on a mountain bike, which gives me the freedom to explore the surrounding countryside easily and to be able to stop pretty much anywhere and set up the tripod and pochard box in the landscape.

Pochard box

I bought this lightweight box from Ken Bromley art supplies, It's the larger box that fits 10 x 12 inch paintings, there is a drawer underneath with compartments where I keep my oil paints and thinners reservoir. As well as a palette and space for two panels.

Camera tripod mounting bracket

I also bought from Ken Bromley a metal plate that I attached to the bottom of the pochard box link here . This allows me to attach a tripod to the pochard box. (I had to glue

a piece of 3mm hardboard to the bottom of the pochard box

with PVA glue. Otherwise the screws would come through

the base of the box, it also added strength to the base of the box)


A pochard box on a tripod looking over the Solway Coast

There are so many tripods available to buy it can be a bit of a

minefield as to what to look for. But after trying two tripods

which were either too big and heavy or too light and flimsy I

had learnt what I needed in a tripod which were these:

1. Being light enough but still sturdy enough to handle the

weight of the pochard box in coastal winds.

2. Finding a tripod small enough when folded down to fit easily into a back pack.

3. The cost, I was looking for something fairly basic but strong.

4. A tripod with a quick release ball head so it's easy to angle

the pochard box if on uneven ground, and with the quick release

to be able to quickly release the pochard box from the tripod.

With all that in mind, I chose a national geographic tripod from a second hand seller on

Amazon. I changed the head of the tripod to a manfrotto ball head, but the ball head

that comes with the tripod is fine, it's just a little bit more fiddly to release.

The tripod can take up to 6kg in weight, it also packs down to 44 cm, which is great to

put into my back pack. So far I've been very happy with it, there is a bit of movement

but nothing like as bad as my previous tripod which was completely off-putting.

Oil Paint

I mainly use Windsor & Newton: Winton,

paint, all of which I usually buy from Jacksons .

The colours I tend to use in the pochard box are:

Titanium white

Lemon yellow

Cadmium yellow

Naples yellow

Yellow ochre

Burnt Sienna

Raw umber

Cadmium red (I rarely use this but it's handy to have)

Alizarin Crimson or Permanent Rose

Cerulean blue

Cobalt blue

Ultramarine blue

Ivory black (I use sparingly)

Thinners & Cleaners

In the past I have used turpentine for thinning paint and

white spirit for cleaning the brushes then giving them a final

wash with soap and warm water. But last year I discovered a

less harmful thinner for me and the environment, which is

from Jacksons Art. Once I'm home I thoroughly clean

the brushes with Johnsons baby oil which strips off the

paint beautifully. I then wash them in warm soap and water.

Brush tubes

I carry two brush tubes, one for my clean brushes and the

other for used brushes from that painting session. They

were my Fathers painting tubes. Unfortunately I was unable

to find them online, but two of these extendable tubes

from Amazon would do, and just label 'dirty brushes' on

one of the tubes. That way you can clean them with the

remaining thinners from the reservoir on the palette and

using some kitchen towel to dry them a little, so most of

the paint is cleaned off them. Then pack them in the 'dirty

tube', and once you're home you can then give them a

thorough clean with Johnsons baby oil and then soap and warm water.


Kitchen towel, great for cleaning the palette, spills, and roughly

cleaning the brushes too.

A small bin liner for keeping all the used kitchen

towels in and any other rubbish.

A small reservoir for thinners which attaches to the

palette, pictured right. I only tend to fill this less than

half full which means when I have finished painting I

can use the remaining thinners to clean the brushes

and wipe clean with kitchen towel.

So that's it, I hope this helps guide you a little into how to start painting in oils outside, it is really fun and completely different from working indoors or in a studio.


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