The one thing every plein air painter should know

If I were asked to list the most important skills for a plein air painter, they would include cleaning brushes, packing efficiently, and drawing (of course). But I would add a skill taught to me by my young assistant, Sandy Quang.

Every artist worth his or her salt carries plastic shopping bags. (Here in Rochester they are called Wegmans’ bags but they probably have a different name in your neck of the woods.) They can be recycled in any number of ways: as trash bags, as emergency wrappers for damaged tubes of paint, or to schlep dirty brushes back home. I always pack three in my backpack, and another half dozen in my teaching bag. They’re really annoying in their natural state, however.

In its natural state, a plastic shopping bag is a pain. It bounces around, wraps itself around stuff, and generally takes up far more space than its real volume.
First, smooth the bag out so the corners are flat and the handles are straight.
Then fold the bag in half…

And half again.
From the bottom, start folding it in triangles…
...until you reach the handle.
Almost there!
Fold the handle back toward the bag, also in triangles.
And stuff it in the gap.
Yeah, like this.
Voila! A perfectly neat bag to drop in your backpack.
And if you keep a stash of them, you might qualify as OCD Painter of the Year.
But THIS, my friends, is the sound of a new computer installing Adobe Creative Suite. Tomorrow I might actually start to make sense again!
 Join us in October, 2013 at Lakewatch Manor—which is selling out fast—or let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in 2014. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!
Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit for more information.