What to Wear for Drawing Outside

What to Wear for Drawing Outside

Just in case you haven’t heard, we’re doing a plein air drawing challenge. The challenge begins tomorrow, September 1, and runs through the month. My personal goal is to get outside at least once a week and draw something with colored pencils, but I’m really hoping to draw outside more often than that.

I’m planning to post my drawings on a special group board on Pinterest. You’re welcome to join that board and post your drawings too. All you have to do is request an invitation to join the board. You will need a Pinterest account, but they’re free and easy to set up.

This post is the last in a series of daily posts covering various topics related to drawing outside. So far, we’ve talked about my favorite equipment for drawing outside, putting together a field kit, finding something to draw, and tips for using a view finder.

With the challenge now upon us, it seems reasonable to talk about what to wear for drawing outside.

What to Wear for Drawing Outside

The good news is that you don’t need a lot of specialized clothing to draw outside unless you’re going somewhere truly unique—like Antarctica or Mount Everest. Most of us already have everything we need in our closets.

A good rule of thumb when dressing for field drawing is to dress in layers. If it gets too warm, you can remove garments. If it gets cooler, you can add them. I like to think of dressing for drawing outdoors the same way I’d dress if I were going for a hike in the woods or for a long walk.

Keys to consider are comfort and protection from the elements. Know the conditions where you plan to draw and dress accordingly.

Beyond that, what you wear really depends on where you’re going. Are you going to be close to home or will you be traveling? It does make a difference.

If You’re Working Close to Home

I’m going to be doing most of my drawing close to home. On the front porch. From the back porch, in the backyard, et cetera.

If that’s your plan, clothing isn’t as important because you can always run inside and make changes. However, there are still a few things to keep in mind.

At the very least, you should consider using sun screen. It’s better to keep the sun off of you as much as possible. For that, I recommend a wide-brimmed hat of some kind, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. They will keep your exposure to the sun to a minimum.

If it’s very hot, wear light-weight clothing (cotton if possible), but long sleeves are still better than short. The natural cooling capacities of the human body are improved by the evaporation from your clothing. Take advantage of it.

Keeping arms and legs covered will also help reduce the irritation of insects. The less exposed skin, the better for you.

Sensible shoes are also a good idea. I have worked outside barefoot, but don’t recommend that. Nothing hampers creativity more than stepping on something sharp! Trust me!

Sunglasses are a good idea, and if you’re going to be working in a sunny place where there is no natural shade, an umbrella or similar canopy is a good idea. You will probably want to stick with a white or neutral color because the color of the umbrella or canopy will change the way colors look on paper.

If You’re Working Away from Home

If you’re going to be traveling—even if it’s just across town—you will need to give a little more thought to what you wear and what other garments you might need to take along.

Everything I listed above applies here, too. Dress in layers and in a manner that offers protection from the sun, wear sturdy shoes, dress for comfort, and so on.

But also consider taking along an extra shirt and/or a coat or jacket in case the temperature drops. Rain gear of some kind is advisable if you happen to live in a temperate climate where the weather can change on a dime or if it’s a changeable time of year.

If you hike a lot, dress for drawing as you would dress for hiking.

The same applies if you like to garden or bike or go on picnics. You already know what types of garments work well for outdoor activities. Plein air drawing isn’t that much different as far as what you wear is concerned, so go with what you know.

So Many Options

There are so many options in this department that it’s impossible to give a comprehensive list. Every artist who works out-of-doors has a personal preference for what they wear. I’ve tried to list the most basic things so you can dress with confidence if you’ve never drawn outside before.

But I know many of you who have worked en plein air have favorite garments or other items that I haven’t included, so please add them in the comments below. We want all of the Challenge participants to have fun, be comfortable, and be safe.

Tomorrow is the first day of the challenge. Are you planning to go outside?

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