Making Time to Paint on our Recent Camping Trip

Our vacation was spent enjoying some of the natural beauty that Florida has to offer.  We visited Jacksonville Beach, Payne’s Prairie, Devil’s Den and Rainbow River.  We spent almost as much time biking, hiking, snorkeling and kayaking as we did resting.  If not, it sure felt like we did.  I’m still sore but it was great fun.

This trip wasn’t really a painting trip but, I took as many of my painting supplies with me as I could.  We were visiting a few beautiful locations and I wanted to spend my free time painting a few of them.  I didn’t expect to paint at every location but I did take a few reference pictures.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist and prefer to take my time.  I layer and layer paint onto the canvas, but eventually I’d like to speed up a little and I’m hoping that a little plein air painting will help with that.

I’m still new to this so I don’t have all the impressive travel painting supplies.  For now, I have to make due with what I’ve got.  Here’s the breakdown of my supplies:

Collapsible aluminum easel
Every paintbrush I own
Large acrylic paint tubes
Watercolor paint tubes
Two palettes (one for acrylics and one for watercolors)
Jars (2) and one plastic container for water
Hand towel
Brush cleaner
Canvas Boards and 2 pieces of stretched canvas
Watercolor Paper

Lately, I’ve been roaming through the bin section of my local art stores looking for a way to carry paints and brushes to art shows.  When we started packing I realized that I had a large plastic bin with a handle on the lid that I use to store resealable containers.  I pulled all the containers out and put my paints inside.

Then, I used another plastic bin that I have and put the brushes and pencils in there.  When it was set in the bin on top of my paint tubes, it fit nicely.  .  All but 4 brushes were short enough to fit but once the brush container was inside the bin, I was able to put my long brushes inside at an angle.  Ta-da!

It all fit and didn’t cost me a penny.

I’m sure you all want to know how it went.  My first attempt at painting went fairly well.  I took my supplies and a small canvas down to a lake to paint the scenery. A bug or two flew into my canvas but I picked them out and kept going. Unfortunately, I realized that I would lose sunlight before I’d be able to finish the painting.  I did take a few pictures so that I could go back later and complete it.  There was a cute older couple that I wanted to paint into the scene but they walked away before I could take their picture.  Lesson learned: Take pictures before you start painting or as anything interesting shows up.

The next attempt was outside in the campsite.  I thought it would be fun to set up the easel and paint one of the pictures I took in Jacksonville while walking down the beach.  It started out fine but, as I suspected would happen, gnats kept flying into my painting.  I would pick one out, paint a little while and another would get stuck.  Ugh!

And on my final day of camping I tried again.


I worked on the water for the lake scene that I started five days prior.  This time, no bugs flew into the paint but as soon as I walked away, a wind gust came and blew my board and the painting into the dirt.  It’s a good thing acrylic paints dry quickly.


For me, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  I think if I try plein air painting again on another trip, I’ll just stick to watercolors.  It’s usually a fairly, quick process to knock out the painting once the sketch is in place.  And it usually works as a preliminary painting for a larger acrylic piece later.  Not always but, sometimes.

Thanks for reading and hopefully, I’ll see you at the beach this summer!