Outside in the Spring!


The weather is finally (and I mean FINALLY) warm enough for me to dust off my gouache tubes.  Gouache, being water soluble, isnIMG_1838’t fond of cold and has been patiently waiting since November when, you might recall, I painted 60 paintings in a day to celebrate my 60th birthday. Oils would never have managed such a feat.

It’s not that I prefer one to the other! Oil is my first love and continues to be my main squeeze, so to speak. Gouache, however, is so immediate, so light and so easy that I like going out with it during the warmer months.

I thought it might be fun in this post to show you all the components that go into producing these paintings.

Lets start with the surface. Watercolor paper works perfectly as gouache is watercolor, just opaque. Last summer I tried working on board and canvas

and I might try going larger later this summer, but for now, the 9″x7″ sketch pad is great.

Gouache needs to stay damp at all times. It will dry out on the palette in a heartbeat and be worthless. So there are tricks to keeping it wet. I know of one artist that wets paper towels and uses that as his palette. I haven’t tried that since I LOVE Weber Fusion’s airtight palette.


I keep a damp sponge in it to keep things humid when it’s closed and I carry a tiny spray bottle with me to spritz the paint from time to time while I am working.

Being creative people, most artists take pride in how they set up their work-spaces, especially the traveling ones. I confess I am proud of this little lightweight set-up. The easel is both inexpensive and lightweight.


My only issue is that it doesn’t go high enough for someone who is 5’7” tall and so I need to bring a chair and sit while painting. The chair is just one of those great little 3 legged camp chairs.

You can use any watercolor brush, but since I have an oil background I’m most comfortable painting with flats and these clear handled Creative Mark brushes are perfect.IMG_2306

Following the Scout motto of being prepared, I bring items that may not be used: clamps just in case it’s windy, a view finder to help me keep to the proper view, this cool ping pong ball on a stick that I heard can help with understanding how the light is falling (haven’t thought to use it yet), a mirror to get a fresh look at what I’m painting, a small watercolor set, brushes and watercolor pad for sketches, sunscreen, bug spray and water for me.  Oh and after my scare about being eaten by coyotes, I carry some pepper spray.  Finally, I have stowed some cards in the bag about my upcoming show to offer to people who are peaking over my shoulder.

Here is the whole set up.


I keep my paint water in the bottle pouch attached to the bag. It hangs perfectly from the back of the easel. The palette sits in my lap. The chair is by far the heaviest thing at about 4 pounds, yet the whole set up is less than 8 pounds.


I have used an abbreviated version of this on a kayak and I plan to trim this down to the bare essentials when I bring it with me on my band new stand up paddle board next week. I’ll let you know how that goes.IMG_6693