Russell Johnson Prescott, AZ oil painter

Plein Air Painting in Washington

This summer, we found ourselves traveling to Washington once again. My wife grew up there and we make it most years to enjoy her hometown area of Longview, which is close to the Oregon border right on the Columbia River. This year, the weather was mild, probably because we arrived before summer begins in Washington. The joke is that summer begins after July 4th in Washington. While we did see a few days warm up in the 80’s, we enjoyed cooler temps in the 70’s and mostly cloudy sometimes with a version of rain some call “liquid sunshine”, although I would describe as a mist. I brought along my pochade painting box and Holbein Aqua Duo water soluble oil paints. These Holbein paints are very similar to other oil paints because they are thick, especially nice for my impressionistic style. Also, these paints are easy to clean up with water, extra nice for travel since I don’t need to pack any stinky mineral spirits. Another big plus for water soluble paints in Washington is that when it is “misting” or raining, my paints aren’t really effected by the moisture. Whereas, traditional oils do not mix with water and I would need to find shelter or also pack and umbrella to keep them dry. I packed my #8 flat Silver brushes and numerous painting panels, my favorite panel is a gessoed hardboard panels by Jack Richeson. Most of my panels were 9×12 to fit my pochade box, and I also grabbed some other odd ball sizes to try to mix it up. I have a homemade wet paint carrier box, basically a box with many shelves inside that can hold 10 small pieces safely if stored flat. See the slide show of pictures below for a photo of the box. For 10 days we were in Washington, I got out paint most days, sometimes completing 2 paintings in a day, for a total of 12 paintings finished plein air. One unique experience for me was plein air painting at the Columbia River while low fog clouded the forested hills and cliffs. Some rainy mist came down on me while painting, but just added to the overall mood and experience. It was so fun to paint scenes that are not familiar to what I am accustomed to here in Arizona, so I reveled in this foggy/moody day. Perhaps, the locals don’t consider a foggy day in Washington fun, but I do! During another outing, I set up at a major park in town called Lake Sacajawea on a small island called Lions Island. A couple that was walking the trails became interested in what I was doing and chatted a bit with me. I gave one of my cards and was surprised to get an email a couple days later saying they would like to purchase the painting! I brought that painting home for varnish and framing, then shipped it back up there. Here is a slide show of the paintings I completed as well as some shots on location with the easel set up. Enjoy! (click on thumbnails for full image)

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