The Practicalities of Landscape Painting

london fine art studios at night

One of the first things I learned when landscape painting was that it requires a lot of planning and equipment to make it through a full day of painting.

Although it is possible to use a simple field easel, I have found that a Half-Size French Sketch Box is an excellent choice if you have plenty of space to setup and can stay at a single location for several hours. Full-Size French Sketch Boxes add a lot more weight for additional storage space, but the added space will not eliminate the need to have an additional bag to hold your brush washer and tissue paper.



French easels are a lot more stable than a lightweight tripod, and provide a handy table for holding your palette, paint, and brushes.   In this photo I have hooked the corner of my folding palette under the bar of the easel to protect against an unexpected gust of wind.  The metal hooks above and below the canvas can be used to hold panels, but they also provide an additional way to stop your canvas from flying away in the wind. On the back of the easel I use the space to hold my brush washer, brushes, a roll of tissue, and a cup of coffee.    It is a good idea to keep your brush washer lid closed while painting in case the easel starts to tip in a strong gust (keep in mind that your canvas is essentially a large sail, and even a light wind can provide a fair amount of force).

A few weeks into my first landscape course I managed to drop my palette and ended up with grass and bits of sand in my paint.  It is tempting to use side of a folding palette without the feet, but I learned that using this side can protect your paint if the palette goes flying.  I tend to stagger my paints so the whole arrangement can be folded if necessary.  As you can see in this photo the feet provide plenty of clearance for wet paint on the palette.


After a full day of painting your last challenge is usually a long walk with a large wet canvas.  French easels can still hold a canvas while collapsed, making it much easier to carry all your equipment  without worrying about destroying your work


We tend to paint between 6 – 8 hours on the landscape course, which means it is always wise to bring along a sandwich and a drink to avoid interruptions. A very small lightweight tripod style folding chair makes it possible to take breaks if the ground is wet, and an umbrella is essential if it threatens to rain.  In the summer a hat and a small bottle of sunscreen has become part of my standard kit after getting an unexpected sunburn in fairly mild weather.  Finally, don’t forget plenty of tissue and a plastic bag to carry back all your trash!