Plans to go the Giverny were made months in advance, so I had plenty of time to worry--er--plan. Like the sleepless night I spent trying to decide which paint colors to bring (both Cadmium Yellow Medium AND Cadmium Yellow Light? Burnt Umber, yes or no?). And the afternoon spent wrestling with the new portable easel to make sure I could put it together (there were no directions, eventually I had to call the supplier). The list of supplies needed to paint “en plein air” (a fancy way to say “outside”) grew longer. In the midst of the list, emphatically, was HAT.
Packing was a long and careful process, and in the end I almost forgot the hat... A cloth one that had belonged to my mother, I had kept it mainly out of sentimentality, but it was light and squishable, so at the last minute, it was stuffed into a corner of the suitcase.
The first painting session in Monet’s gardens felt a bit like a scene from the Three Stooges. Once again, the easel almost bested me. I sat to paint, with my palette on my lap, dropped a brush and put my shoulder into the palette when I leaned down to grab it, so splat went paint all over the front of my new painting shirt. And I forgot my hat.
Eventually, I learned to stand to paint, and put the palette on the stool. I showed the easel who was boss and it responded meekly. And I began to remember my hat, because I learned:
Plein air painting is OUTSIDE and
Outside can be really sunny and burn your head or
Outside can be a little rainy but you can still paint if your head is covered and
Outside can be windy and a hat keeps your hair from blowing in your face and you don’t get paint on your face from trying to keep your hair from blowing in your eyes when you wear a hat and
Outside can have bugs--well, actually, the hat doesn’t really help that much with the bugs.
The list of what to bring for plein air painting is long, there is lots to remember--whatever you do, don’t forget the hat!