Summer Painting Season!

As we move through the heart of the summer, it’s easy to take for granted that one can be outdoors and painting. Even this summer, which had an unseasonably cool and rainy start, has offered ample opportunities to paint. 

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I am remembering with fondness the cozy lunch hours I spent over the winter, finding warm coffee shops with good views out the windows. I am also embracing gratitude, for the warmer months, during which I can choose either to paint in a coffee shop or in a park, or on the street, or at the river walk!!!  

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It is wonderful to be able to paint outdoors. I’ve been trying to take full advantage of the summer painting season, with a few tricks that make it easier to paint, with regularity, en plain air:

1. Carry painting supplies with you everywhere. This might sound crazy, but it’s possible to create a travel painting set that fits in almost any purse or backpack. Currently, I carry a 5x7 sketchbook or watercolor postcards, my mini palette, a travel paintbrush, and a 2 oz Nalgene cup with cup. 

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2. Don’t worry about carrying a seat. This can be a tricky one. Many Urban Sketchers carry a stool or chair to sit on. In fact, I asked for and received a portable Joey camping chair last Christmas. On a recent trip, dutifully carried the chair all over Tokyo and used it a couple of times. But, it’s cumbersome to carry a chair with you, at all times. So, usually I try to improvise and find a place to sit on a bench, grassy spot or any other flat surface on which to perch.

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3. Work on painting faster. This was one of my stated goals for the year. And…I have successfully improved my painting speed! Though practice and adjustment to my technique, I find myself able to make a quick sketch and painting in as little as 30 minutes. This allows me to squeeze a painting in at lunch time or whatever small pieces of time I am able to find.