Above: Some essential outdoor gear for sketching in the field. There wasn't any way to describe some of it without showing a photo. The fingerless gloves were impossible to capture even in the photo, but you get the idea. Read below for details. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Why is Roz showing us some very well-used clothing on Project Friday? Today is about kitting up, getting your gear together for doing field work. This is a great project for any Friday or any weekend because it typically involves a trip to one of my favorite stores REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.).
A couple weeks ago an artist wrote to me asking what sort of cold weather gear she should take to Alaska in August. Since I couldn't believe it was really very cold in Alaska in August (I haven't been to Alaska yet!) I had to quibble with her about temperatures. To me it really isn't cold until we get down to around zero. But cold is a relative thing and she wanted to be comfortable enough to sketch. Since my main concern for her was that she not be eaten alive by black flies I split the difference between our concerns and gave her the advice for which she asked and a little extra. (If there is one thing I can write more about than art supplies it's outdoor gear, hence this very long post.)
It struck me that this advice would be useful to other readers of this blog, whether they are heading out this summer, fall, or winter. I augmented my original note to her with additional comments and some reorganization. So if you intend to sketch out and are concerned about art materials, bugs, rain, or cold take a moment to read this post. Then make an equipment and clothing list, and start gearing up as your budget allows.
You want to break all gear in. This is especially true of shoes—I'm breaking in a new pair right now as I type; remember that pair of hiking boots that got doused with gasoline at a malfunctioning pump? Well I've replaced them with a new brand, also Gortex lined, and yes, I can run in these too if chased by spies.
The try out/try on/break in rule (and it is a rule, one of the few I insist on in life) is true for all your equipment whether you are wearing it or carrying it. Make sure that you at least try things on around the house, but the best thing is to get out and move about in it—even if the temperatures aren't exactly what you'll experience. Imagine for instance trying to work with fingerless gloves for the first time when you are outside in the cold. You might not have the "system" down, and lose valuable body heat floundering around deciding if you can draw with your thumb covered or uncovered. And does the pair you purchased cut off your finger circulation? Bad on so many levels. If you test your gear first you'll be able to adapt it before you get out into the field. Then you'll have useful gear, instead of dead weight to carry.
You get the idea. Here are my recommendations:
Paper and Art Tools:
I recommend you take paper that you normally use for the way you work—in a book size that is portable and not too heavy. For instance two thinner books rather than one thick book would be preferable. You can have one book stashed away out of the rain freeing your hands to work in the other. A lighter book means less weight in your hands. (Journal cards are also a great option for sketching out in the wilderness.)