My last post was written on the wings of my excitement about my week of plein air fun. Today I’ll relive the fun by sharing my tips and treasures of making it easy.

I’m privileged to own a little old Yamaha wave runner that has become a great floating studio. I love being on the water, in the water, by the water so plein air and water-based paint just seemed to make sense.

A few weeks before this camping trip, I searched Hobby Lobby for ideas on how to construct a small, inexpensive, convenient pochade box. In the wood craft department I found a little $4 chest with handle and latches--perfect for a 5” X 7” board or panel and enough space to store small tubes of paint.

Then I went to Lowe’s and purchased a sheet of clear acrylic and had it cut to fit just inside the box. I glued gray pallette paper on the back side to make a reusable palette. My husband glued wood pieces on the inside corners of the box for the acrylic to rest on and carved out two small half circles on the edges of the palette so I can lift it out the box. We couldn’t find a small hinge to hold the lid up at suitable angles so my ingenious dear crafted one himself.

The paints go inside, the acrylic palette fits over the paints. My thinking man cut a piece of very thin plastic (from a cutting board sheet) to protect the panel or canvas from the wet paint. (oops! not pictured, but it fits nicely between the top & bottom of the box.)

I use sticky tac (used to hang posters on walls) to attach my panel to the top of the box. It can be used over and over again.

I found a large zip-lock bag to hold the pochade, some paper towels, and a small pouch of brushes. All goes into a simple nylon bag with straps to hang over the wave runner handle bars. I take a cup for water, extra panels, a waterproof camera, a cheap attachable umbrella ($4 at Ollie’s), some sun screen, a good hat and I’m set to go!

I also carry a gray scene finder and a clear acrylic strip about the size of a ruler.

I use the strip of acrylic (left over from the piece that was cut to fit inside the box) as a value/color guide. When I’m trying to determine color and value of the scene, I place a dab of my paint on the strip, hold it up to compare the paint with nature, and then hold it over my painting to see if the color fits my painting. Value checking the scene this way works great unless I’m facing strong light, but the method is always helpful to check my paint color with my painting.

For this venture, I used Golden Open acrylics. The sample-set tubes were the perfect size for the little box and working with acrylics meant I needed no solvent. I also loved the blending time of the Open series. I carry a tiny spray bottle of water to periodically spritz my palette to keep colors wet, but even if they dried, they were easy to rewet and continue blending. Painting with Golden Open was a bit different from oils---they seemed like a cross between watercolor and oils--but I adapted easily to the change.

On my next such water venture, I may try water soluble oils since I love oil paint but find solvents a problem on a jet ski studio. I’ll let you know how that works. Any suggestions on brands you like?

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