There are many different set-ups people use, regarding both media and equipment.  The example listed below is what I’ve been using over the last 20+ years for oil painting.

The equipment I use use is all about portability.  I need to keep my painting gear as light and portable as possible and, over time, have simplified my gear to suit me and still meet the light and portable requirement.  I’ve listed below the bits of gear that I’ve been using, which seems to work for me.

The only thing missing (presently) is a decent painting umbrella, but hope to purchase and take possession of a new Best Brella before heading out on this latest trip.

The Paint Box:

I’ve got a paint box which is approximately 14″d x 18″w x 4″h.  The box shown here is very similar to the one I have, with the exception of mine is really worn in.  I’ve been using it for over 20 years.

It carries all my painting gear really… my paints, brushes, thinners for cleaning my brushes and a towel with which to wipe my brushes.

The palette slides into the lid, so the wet paint can be stored without taking it off the palette and it’s good to go for the next painting.

As well, I’ve attached a shoulder strap to the box, so I can easily carry it along with my easel which also has it’s own shoulder strap.

The Easel:

The Alpine Painter plein air easel easel is a great system designed by a plein air friend of mine, John Borrows.

My plein air easel is a Stan-rite (or Test-rite) Deluxe No.300. This is a really great easel for plein air painting, made of aluminum, and is quite light.  A great attribute when it comes to carrying ones gear any distance.  This easel is available at Curry’s Art Supply.

I’ve got a small umbrella for this, but thinking of getting a Best Brella which I hear are really great.


Prior to plein air painting, I had been freelancing as an illustrator, and up until that point, I had not used oil paint. I had used a lot of different media, including graphite, felt marker, airbrush, pen and ink, watercolour and acrylic. Therefore, acrylics were what I went out with when going out to plein air for the first time.

I enjoyed painting out doors, but with the weather being quite hot at times, I found my paints would dry far too fast to be practical, and definitely on those hot days, they would dry on my brush before I’d get it on the panel or canvas.

I also liked the look of oils and the thick body of the paints. Acrylics when drying, shrink, so the  three dimensional quality of my brush strokes would all but disappear.

It was because of these things that I decided, in pretty short order, to go with oils. I never looked back after that. Oils are the way to go for me!


I started out using Winsor & Newton artist quality oil paints in the small tubes.  I really like W & N artist quality paints. they are, however, on the  pricey side. Maybe not as pricey as some, but still worth their weight.

So, I ended up using Stevenson Oil Paints which are artist quality and made in Canada.

I occasionally pull out the watercolours, gouache, or graphite and do a little sketch on paper.
Artworld Art Supplies in Victoria BC is where I get almost all my art supplies.


Brushes do many different things and there are many different brushes for different things.

The shape or size of brush, the length or type of bristle, and the softness or coarseness of bristle… all these things have a bearing on the type of application of paint and the overall look of the work.


There are many different supports for painting on. Some are common with different media and others are fairly unique to certain media.

For plein air painting, I generally like to use a 1/4″ wood panel. They’re durable and stand up to the grief a hike through the woods can serve up. I’ve had too many canvases take a hit with the business end of a branch and wind up with a hole in them.


First off, I don’t consider my self a photographer, but more along the lines of “a guy with a camera”. I do enjoy taking photos though and, when either the weather’s too nasty and/or one doesn’t have time to get to a painting yet sees a great bit of reference,  photography is a great way to accumulate the reference needed for studio work.


I’ve been shooting with a Nikon D300 in the last 2-3 years.  I got it so I could document my paintings and also take good quality photos for illustration purposes. It was important to me to be able to take an image that was press quality at the size of a double page magazine spread.


I’ve got a couple lenses to go with the camera as well. The first is a NIkon 16-85 mm lens which I’ve been using for shooting most of my photographs.

The second lens is a Nikkor 70-200 mm, which is great for the more distant subjects. I also have a tripod, with a quick grip head.



The laptop I have is a 15″ Apple MacBook Pro.  It’s about the 4th one I’ve had since getting digital about 12 years ago. I love Macs, the intuitive and logical way the interface works and looks. I’ve pounded away on them for several hours and almost every day. They just keep working! The last 2 I’ve had for about 4.5 years each.

Byte Computers in Victoria is where I deal. Owen Moore (owner) and the guys there are great to deal with.

Tablet & Software:

Along with my laptop, I use a Wacom Tablet. This is a pressure sensitive tablet & pen with which I can (digitally) draw and paint directly onto the computer screen.

Using the Wacom tablet in conjunction with programs such as Adobe Photoshop (I’m using CS6), and Corel Painter (I’m using Painter 11).

With these tools I can take full advantage of the digital medium…  paint, draw, illustrate etc. Examples of digital painting can be seen under ‘ABSTRACTION’ on both my sites: and

I also use Adobe Lightroom for my photographs. It’s Adobe’ digital darkroom, where one can digitally develop and organize their photographs.