I really wanted to get to the bottom of the falls. About a mile or so walk separated me from it. It was all downhill but that meant it would be all uphill to get back to the car.
It was at a moment like this I was very thankful I’ve chosen to travel light when plein air painting. My entire kit weighs in around 19 pounds. I probably could lower it but for now, 19 pounds is better than what I used to carry, which my wife likened to carrying the kitchen sink. I stopped worrying about the “what ifs/20%” and start carrying for the “what is/80%”.
I’ve found carrying extra paint can be optional. If I run out of a color, I run out and at that point I’ll improvise. But after 200 paintings in the “wild” I’ve yet to run out because I load up my pallet before heading out. My extra paint tubes are kept in the trunk of my car and I make sure to load up before I head out.
Take all of your extra paint and weigh them. Are you carrying an extra pound or two that you may not need to?
Paper Towel / Paint brushes
For saving space I roll up my brushes and tuck them inside the tube of paper towel and I’ve slimmed down the number of brushes to 6-7 brushes and a painting knife – all filberts and one round. Lately I’ve been experimenting with only 4 or 5 rags made from old t-shirts instead of paper towel.
Pochade Box /Tripod
I use the regular size Strada easel and Sirui T-2005X tripod with the Manfrotto 496RC2 ballhead. What I like about this rig is that it comes with a hook to hang your backpack to weigh it down in windy conditions. Even with my backpack hanging underneath as a ballast, a gust of wind recently did a “Mary Poppins” on my easel and face planted it.
Panels / Wet Panel Carrier
Depending on the panel size I can either tuck them inside the backpack (9×12″) or carry (11×14″ or larger). I liked having the 9×12″ this past summer as I roamed downtown Toronto hands free, especially during rush hour on the subway.
I’m currently using William Bickford panels – someday I’ll switch to gatorboard substrates and lighten my load even more but for now, it’s the Bickford. Sadly Jerry’s stopped carrying them in the Nashville store and now I have to order online only (boo!)
I will write a wet panel carrier post in the near future – but I made my own (9×12″, 11×14″ and 16×20″) out of 1/2″ foam core board, balsa wood, and duct tape. They are light weight and protect my paintings. In fact, I recently tore some duct tape off my panel carrier to tape two panels together to make a diptych in the field. Duct tape fixes everything!
Snack / Water
I’d carry a pizza if I could, but an apple and/ or a piece of cheese works. As for water, I’m using my bicycle water bottle as it holds plenty of fluid and doesn’t leak.
Mine leaks and I’d love a new one. Hopefully my wife reads this and buys me one for Christmas. 🙂 I use Gamsol to both clean my brush and as a medium for my paints. Gamsol can work as a medium if you don’t abuse it. Everything in moderation, nothing to excess. Unless it’s pizza. Then all bets are off and excess is your friend.
Don’t forget the iPod and Origaudio for some background jazz. (Brubeck, Peterson, Harris, Davis, Green…)
The Deep Wilderness
If you plan to venture further into the woods and further away from civilization (which I have yet to try) you should consider carrying some additional safety related items. Rusty Jones wrote a really nice blog about plein air safety. Visit his blog here.
As you plan your backpack – ask yourself if you are willing to schlepp it a mile to the base of the water falls. If you aren’t, do you really need it? Plan for the what is, not the what if. And if that approach doesn’t work on a trip, then adjust your plan and start again.
After all, plein air painting is all about solving problems, right?
Onwards and Sideways,