Paint Anywhere; Just Be Prepared

California artist Libby Tolley (at right, on location in Monterey, California) paints outdoors as much as she can. Her philosophy is: “As long as there’s light, there’s no reason to stop.” Because she paints outdoors so often, her goal is to “make it as simple as possible.” So that she’s ready to paint outdoors at the spur of the moment, she keeps her sport utility truck well stocked with her essentials. “This allows me to stop and paint when the desire hits me-even while I’m waiting for my daughter at diving practice,” Tolley says. “Sometimes you just have to carve out these opportunities whenever and wherever.” Here’s a rundown of gear Tolley leaves in her truck for impromptu painting sessions:

  • Sunblock
  • Sunblock for lips
  • Hat with large visor (not the type with open crown)
  • Extra jacket and gloves
  • Bug spray
  • A bag with extra paint, clean rags, paper towels, plastic bags and a filled water bottle
  • Extra watercolor paper, prestretched or cut to size
  • A board to paint on, cut one inch larger than the watercolor paper, with bull dog clips
  • An umbrella to shade the paper (this can be attached to the easel, or can go directly into the ground)
  • A stool or small chair to sit on during breaks
  • A small, foldable palette
  • Extra watercolor brushes
  • A backpacker French easel, stocked with pliers, and a water cup

When planning her plein air sessions, she also takes:

  • Her current watercolor palette, paint already squeezed out
  • Her large sketch book
  • Pre-stretched 20 x 26 watercolor paper
  • Watercolor pencils

Libby Tolley is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society. Her paintings have been exhibited in national shows, including Watercolor West, Watercolor U.S.A. and a special exhibit in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Tolley lives and paints in the coastal community of Los Osos, California.

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