View Full Version : Trying Plein Air

08-12-2012, 02:04 PM
I decided to try to do more plein air... I did pretty regularly in past draw from life BUT since I was not really outdoors most of the time, it wasn't the true plein air. Because it was often from my window and done with ME inside of the house.

So today I put a sharpie pen and little paint set and waterbrush in a bag and went back to the park AFTER I'd already gone once with the dogs. I discovered long time ago that trying to sketch with the dogs along didn't really work for me.

My first discovery was that the bugs are annoying. . . had to keep batting knats away and twice an ant somehow got onto my page when I was painting. No idea how. Needless to say I did this sketch pretty fast as all those buzzing critters were annoying!

The entrance to a section of the park:


08-12-2012, 02:20 PM
Bug spray is your friend Rainy. :D Also, I've found morning to be the best time for plein air, it's cooler and the bugs usually aren't out yet, or at least aren't as numerous. Gnats especially come out in the evening, just before dusk, or anywhere it's a bit cool and/or damp. Nice sketch under trying circumstances.


08-12-2012, 04:37 PM
Congrats on braving the bugs. Fun sketch. Irene Brady (http://naturejournaling.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html) has an outdoor setup she uses on her property that includes a mosquito net. :lol:

Rocket Jones
08-12-2012, 07:41 PM
Rainy, I do a lot of backpacking and there are a couple ways to go about bug control.

The mechanical method can be as elaborate as Irene Brady's setup, or as simple as a head net you can get at a sporting goods store, combined with long sleeves and pants.

There are a lot of chemical ways to go. Some people swear that citronella or other 'natural' oils work for them, but it's a very individual thing, and what works for one doesn't work at all for another. As for the commercial stuff, nothing works better than DEET. You don't need to get any concentration greater than 40%, it doesn't add any protection or last any longer. It's not harmful to people (unless you drink it), but it will damage some plastics, so don't spray it around your wristwatch or the crystal may etch.

Another option is to spray your clothes with Permethrin. Available in sporting goods stores, this chemical bonds to clothes like a dye, and will survive 30 or more washings. It's used as a dog dip too, but is deadly to cats and fish, so it's not an option for many. The nice thing about permethrin is that it's not just a repellant, it will also kill mosquitos and ticks that dare to land on you.

Personally, I have a long sleeve t-shirt and long pants, and my hiking hat that I treat with permethrin in the Spring. On the trail and in camp, I use the barest bit of DEET on my neck and ears, and will sometimes spray a little DEET on my shoes in heavy tick country. For me, this works great.

Just this Spring, I sat out in a meadow sketching away and had wasps, mosquitos and other assorted flying bothers buzzing around me, yet not a single one landed on me.

08-12-2012, 08:25 PM
That permetrin sounds interesting, I'll have to look into that. No way I can wear long sleeves and long pants in this weather though! Off! with Deet seems to do the job pretty well for me I just hate the smell, and it hurts like a sunavagun if you get it in your eyes!


08-12-2012, 11:41 PM
Nice job! I can sympathize regarding the bug bites.

Joan T
08-13-2012, 09:28 PM
Yeah for your plein air attempt!!! I like the look of that park. I do a LOT of plein air painting and if I am going to be in a grassy or woodsy area I spray my feet and clothing with Off or something similar. I worry about deer ticks her not the usual bugs. lol I really am not bothered by them much except when my sketching group goes out in the evening. We are usually hanging around when it is starting to already get dark and the bugs do come around then. Don't give up...you are bigger than the bugs!

08-13-2012, 09:43 PM
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Didn't go out drawing today as it was so, so HOT! Over 100 degrees. . . dogs and I stayed in the AC. Even now its not cooled down yet

08-18-2012, 07:36 PM
Great start to your new phase of plein air! You did a great job despite the bugs. I always say I am going to begin plein air in ernest, and now I am feeling more "guilty" because I do not have bugs as an excuse! Very few in the Colorado altitude & climate. This summer has been either waaaay too hot, or rainy when I think of an outing. The seaon is mellowing out so you have inspired me to give it a go Rainy! Keep up the good work.

Over 100 degrees !! Ack!!:eek:

08-18-2012, 07:39 PM
Totally understand, Candace. Its been so hot the last couple weeks here that I've even been lax about taking the dogs walking as they don't want to go far before they start panting and wanna go home. Hope you get to do some plein air soon!

08-21-2012, 01:16 AM
Welcome back to the fraternity of plein air painters. Time of day makes a huge difference to me anyway and then...

Some of the hard core plein air painters I know carry bug spray in their kits and spray a circle of it on the ground around where they are painting. Doesn't fit in a small kit, but their kits are more than we carry for a bit of sketching too. Thermocell is a fantastic thing to carry if mosquitoes are the problem, hunters have used them for years. The mosquitoes are so bad here in the summer I carry one when I take the dog out, they used to swarm her something fierce not when we have the thermocell along. They sell them in sporting goods stores, at Walmart and on Amazon. Just depends on how long you want to paint outdoors.