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Copyright ©  2006 by Time 4 Art.
All images protected  and all rights reserved.
 No image may be reproduced, copied or distributed in any form or by any means.

Bare essentials

by   R.Orton

Something that we all do every day unless over 50 and having one of those senior moments, is quickly doing a check list in our minds (or on paper) of the things that we will need as we leave our homes to go out to work, or do the weekly shopping etc.

 The more we do something then the easier it becomes and the check list for doing the repetitive task is almost burnt into our brains, and then we can what we call ‘run on auto pilot’.

With that thought in mind, this is a humorous look for the beginner to outdoor watercolour painting, who may be considering  how to go about planning
his or her first epic outing.


Don’t spoil the day before even setting out.

As I am going to make an early start tomorrow morning it would be sensible to get things ready today.

Last minute packing never works for me. I always forget something, or need to go and buy something that I require.

When gathering my equipment I must remember that I will be walking with it for about fifteen minutes before reaching the view point, and so do not want to be loaded down with lots of unnecessary things.

On the other hand, the whole day will be ruined if I forget something that I desperately needed, so plan I must……….



Sun tan lotion will make my hands greasy and this could ruin the watercolour paper so I must take soap, towel and extra water to wash with.

It could be cold or hot so it would be wise to dress in layers.

I will want a midday snack and so sandwiches and a drink will be required, together with a piece of fruit.
(to keep healthy).

Keeping healthy……..hmmm…….I had better take extra drinks to combat dehydration in case it gets really hot.

 A spade could be very useful in case I place my chair on boggy ground and have to dig it out. No, let’s be sensible about this. It’s a chair, not something as big as a car………Hold on a minute…..Where will the car be left. I’ll put a spade in the boot just in case. Well, you never know, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I will want a camera to take a picture of my view being painted. This will give me a reference for any touching up I may want to do back home. It is also good for capturing momentary weather conditions that affect the light.
 A camera is brilliant to use when painting living subjects into your landscape.
Wildlife, cows, sheep, horses etc. all add something to a painting.
It is very annoying to have a half painted cow on your soon to be masterpiece, when your ‘star subject’ decides that the grass is greener at the other end of the field.



One of the things I always need to take with me wherever I go these days is my reading glasses. These are a relatively new accessory for me now that I have long past the golden age of 50.

I have the choice of continually searching for them, when they are probably at the last place I think to look for them (perched on top of my head) or have them dangling from my neck on a length of chain.
I always get an image in my mind of Larry Grayson saying “Shut that door” that stops me from doing this. 

I obviously need to take a watch. How else am I going to know what time my wife will be cross with me for getting home late and causing the dinner to burn or go cold.


Sunglasses………now what do I do about them.  At my age it doesn’t matter. I have already got the laughter lines and crows feet spreading from the corners of my eyes. A little more squinting in the sun is not going to make any noticeable difference to my charming good looks, in fact the crow’s feet may enhance my ‘lived in face’.

Joking aside, the problem I have got with wearing sunglasses is that they alter the colour of everything.  This is not good unless you are planning to give your picture the title ‘Landscape through tinted glass’ or something similar.

Besides, I haven’t gone to the expense of purchasing prescription reading sunglasses and I cannot see two pairs of glasses perched on even my nose.
Roman type you know, making my face look masterful and strong. (If you know me personally then don’t tell my wife I said that.)


Planning the location of the great day out.

Obviously I have decided on the location for my painting day because I have given it a lot of thought.  !!!!!!!!!!

A good location for my first outside painting adventure is very important because should it all goes terribly wrong then I will not have the desire to repeat the exercise, thus confining myself to copying photographs or peering through misted up windows to acquire my subject matter.

I want a location that has a view that interests
me for painting.

It should be reasonably accessible via car or foot as I don’t want to have to climb up sheer cliffs or do a
10 mile hike to get there.

I want it to be a place that is peaceful and quiet. It’s not that I am unsociable but as a beginner I would not want a crowd of people gathering behind me watching my first brushstrokes to artistic fame or getting loads of conflicting advice from those who think they can do better,
(until you give them a brush.)

O.K……..I have though of a great place to start painting

Travel by car and then will have to walk for about fifteen minutes to get there. A good view and a quiet location.


What I will need to take with me.

Let me think about this logically……..

The grass may be wet – I’ll need a folding chair.

It could rain or be sunny.
Either way an umbrella would be useful.

If the sun comes out I will need my factor 8
and a large brimmed hat.

O.K., I know I should be using a higher factor, but I have had 50 something years of putting on factor 8 on before ‘the professional medical profession’ informed me that I was only playing at protecting my skin with it. 
 I know that I should be putting a factor on that is probably higher in number than my age, giving my skin a greasy, ghostly, ghastly white appearance, but I’m getting old and that gives me the right to be cantankerous, so I won’t.



My mobile phone is a must, being the best security item that one can carry……. Well, if I can get a signal, and if I have remembered to charge it.

I am not trying to think in a negative way, but you never know when you may be bitten by a snake as you walk through the long grass, trampled on by a horse or charged at by a bull that thinks you may be competition,
eyeing up one of his ladies.

Not that I would have the time to phone anyone if I was in the middle of my first sprint in twenty years to the safety of the perimeter fence, with my only thought of trying
to remember what my high jump
abilities were / are. !!!!!

I am one of those people that only switch my mobile on when I need to call out in absolute emergencies.
The trouble is that when I do come to use it I have to refer to the instruction manual to remind myself on the basic operations such as ‘switching it on –
finding my address book etc.’

If anyone ever asked me for my mobile number I couldn’t be very helpful to them. I know it’s stored
 in my contacts….somewhere.

I must remember to take my mobile phone instruction manual.


My next essential item to take is by force of habit been installed into my very being from a very early age by my mum. I should never go anywhere without one. I’m sure you must have guessed what it is by now.

Don’t tell me I was the only child in the world that was not allowed to go out without a handkerchief  to blow  my nose on…….. Sorry, if you are aged under 40, I mean a tissue. 

Hankies with our embroidered initials on were the norm for us oldies, in fact I don’t know what half the population would have done for Christmas and birthday presents without them to fall back onto.
I used to get three at a time with a big letter R in blue stitching, all nicely packed in a little presentation box. You just don’t get Christmas presents like that these days.
Apparently it is not considered to be healthy to carry them about anymore.
The ‘medical establishment’ have given out guidelines for us to favour paper tissues. So I guess it’s a case of blow and throw. There’s another opportunity for the litter bugs that live amongst us.
Oh dear, I have just read that last paragraph back to myself and realise how much I sound like a grouchy old man.!!!!!!

I’ll leave it in though because it’s true. …
True about the litter bugs I mean.

Probably true about the grouchy bit as well.



I suppose the other thing I should consider taking is the actual painting equipment. You know, paper, brushes, paint, palette, scraper, paper towelling, pencils, rubbers,
viewing frame, masking tape,
masking fluid, extenders,
retarders, sponge,
more water………

Now where did I put our extra large suitcase with wheels on………


Roger Orton


Some of the above paintings are oil, others watercolour 
I hope you enjoyed reading this page. Would you like to write something like it.
If so then send it in via e-mail. You can include your own pictures if you like.