Outdoor kit recommendations

Outdoor sketching and painting advice

We will be doing some painting and/or drawing on location in and around Venice during this year’s painting course. Some extra things are needed and it helps to consider practicalities in advance. It is easy to overlook personal comfort or needs and then regret it later.

It is worth thinking through how much stuff you will need. Bringing the kitchen sink is not an option. The minimal necessary is a good compromise, as too much can be a hassle. A small watercolour sketch done outside can carry a complete ‘shorthand’ impression that can later on be used to work up something bigger in the studio.

**When you arrive at an outside location there is usually no seating except for the ground! I use an art bag that contains a metal frame that contains my paints and sketchbook, pencils and other items, It folds out to become a low stool and enables me to work on a painting that is on a board on the ground, or if the work rests on a canal wall, for example, the bag is still a useful container. It is also possible to stand, of course, but if that option is preferred, a light easel or camera tripod that can take a light board is probably better, though of course, in erecting an easel or tripod there is the real issue of people milling past and the chance of blocking walkways, which is to be avoided. It needs thinking through. The lightest way is to carry a smallish watercolour sketchbook that can be used anywhere and could even be held by hand. The companion to this is inevitably, a camera or phone with camera. A small one at least does not add much weight. A stout carrier bag can contain a lot, or a shoulder bag. Surplus equipment can be left in the studio. Of course, a wheelie-case, as used on flights, could be deployed and would provide a lot of carrying room.

Toilets can be an issue but most cafes have one and if called short I usually buy a quick cappuccino and voila! No more problem.

Here is what I use as my outdoor kit:

  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses or sun visor
  • Warm-enough clothing
  • Sun cream if necessary
  • Either a small sketchbook of good watercolour paper or a board (35 x 24 cm approx) and a few sheets of watercolour paper that can be clipped on, or stretched in advance
  • A bag to carry things and possibly to double as a stool (if not an option then a lightweight folding stool, or decide to stand instead or sit on the ground)
  • If standing, consider a lightweight tripod or easel
  • Paintbox
  • Water bottle and water pot
  • Brushes in roll or tube
  • Pencil 2B, blade, rubber, masking fluid
  • Small camera or mobile phone with camera

It is hard to do with less than this unless you simply draw in pencil, which can be an option. A very light way to work in colour would be to use a tiny ‘fieldbox’ watercolour set, one brush, small watercolour sketchbook, little bottle and pencil. This would allow for pencil study and some colouring. It’s not a bad way to compromise if you don’t want to carry much and this adds up to greater mobility and wanderability when you arrive at the location.

Note from Creative Retreats

**We have a small selection of larger equipment available for hire during your workshop experience here in Venice.
Check out the gallery and booking form…
You will find more advice in our FAQs section with regard to clothing and wellbeing.