Monday, February 11, 2013

Simply Getting There

I wondered why my plein air pack was getting so heavy. 

You see, I had been using a back pack on rollers to transport my painting things. The wheels were small and didn’t negotiate sandy or gravelly surfaces very well and often I had to pick it up to carry to the site before setting up to paint. So the transport from car to view point could be taxing.  This was especially true as the bag seemed to get heavier at each outing.
One of the things that a backpack does very well is hide things from you as they migrate to the bottom of the bag. When in the field I defy you to find those pliers, or that sunscreen. I had a heck of a time doing that. So upon your return, if you are like me, you throw into the bag those items you could not find when you were last out. That is how I was carrying about 3 pairs of pliers and 2 large tubes of sunscreen, along with 6 tubes of various yellows and 5 of different blues.

Enough!  No wonder I was played out at the end of a painting day.
This is what I was using. Notice the tiny wheels. They rolled smoothly as long as the surface was slick and like marble,

I saw a great little system that a fellow painter had and asked her about it. It consisted of a black metal tube folding trolley with 5 inch wheels and a cooler she had purchased at Walmart. Her wheels traversed a gravel parking lot with ease, while I had to carry half my kit. I seldom if ever actually backpack in to a site, but I do cross many different types of surfaces from fine soft sand to asphalt and concrete paving.  I realized that I was carrying as much as I could without wearing myself out totally. You do need energy to paint, and I was wasting it on logistics! And this system was compact enough that it could live very comfortably in a small compact car.

This is what I now have. 
 Look at those wheels! You could hitch a horse to this thing, and it would fly!

The beauty of it is that it is washable, crushable and inside car friendly. It is a collapsible cooler!
Everything is open to view once the lid is unzipped. It comfortably holds my Open M paintbox, my paints, turps container, brushes, fingerless gloves, sunscreen, vinyl gloves, hand wipes,  mahlstick (retractable backscratcher from Walgreen’s), trash bags and water bottle. And it is all visible from above. No more trying to find things at the bottom by Braille method. Believe me, that was an adventure in the case of my razor blade paint scraper.

Painting season is upon us. Take stock of what you are using to paint in the field. Is there a better option to fit your needs that you might find less taxing and more efficient? As I get older and find I am unwilling to give up my time outside painting, it is obviously worth my time to work these things out.  It is easier to paint outside when you are not huffing and puffing from the exertion of simply getting there.


  1. Brilliant idea - give that fellow painter a pat on the back!

    1. You learn so much when painting with others. And its not always about the 'on canvas' stuff. This was a gem that will enable me to go out when I am not feeling so very great. No more grab and carry. The getting there has become so much easier. You are right Katherine! This is a brilliant idea!