Monday, January 11, 2016

Plein Air Painting Essential Tools: Collapsible Trash Bag

I'm a little bit of a ham.  I love to have my picture taken when I'm out in the field, especially when I've painted a masterpiece.  For years, though, the photos were marred by the ugly trash bag—a plastic WalMart grocery bag—swinging from my easel.  I usually forgot to stow it out of the way before the camera clicked.

But those plastic bags, free and dispensed by the millions, have more than unsightliness working against them.   If they escape, which is likely in a high wind, they become a problem for wildlife, and they have a shelf life longer than a Twinkie's.  (By the way, the longevity of that durable snack seems to be a matter of urban legend; see this NPR article.)  And if you hang them directly from your pochade box, the wind will swing them up and around so they smack right into your oil palette and then right back against your new windbreaker that you didn't want to get paint on.

At one workshop, one of my students had a collapsible, spring-loaded, open-weave "can" hanging from her easel that she used as a trash receptacle.  Admiring it, I asked what it was.  When she said it was a shower caddy for campers, I observed that this re-purposing was a stroke of genius.  A generous person, she gave it to me.

The shower caddy lasted me for years but finally wore out.  Recently, I found a new one in a fashionable "camo" pattern.  Now, I just leave it up hanging when the paparazzi arrive.  You can hardly see it in the photos.

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