What to do in the rain

New Zealand is a pluvial country. Never is this more apparent than when you are a plein air painter working all year round. Of course we have good days. These are followed by windy days, foggy days, cold and frosty days. Days when it drizzles and days when it rains.

The reality is that when you leave the comfort of your studio you can and will be confronted by any of the four seasons, and sometimes all four in succession on the same day.  And that is the point. To grow and develop as a landscape artist you have to leave your comfort zone, you have to be challenged.

So what to do in the rain? Why, paint of course. Three things to keep in mind and to prepare in advance. First is to dress appropriately. I wear my big hat and large rain coat, also boots and if it is really cold, my fingerless gloves.

Second, I paint in oil and believe it or not, you can paint in the rain. Ok, not pouring down, but in the drizzle anyway. The oil displaces the water. Brushing creates an emulsion, and back in the studio over a couple of days, the water simply evaporates. The resultant paint film is quite stable. I have panels I painted twenty years ago and they are still holding up.

Third, I have a series of painting locations for all seasons. Down at the port. Under trees at the beach. Under bridges, verandas, gazebos, even downtown. It really depends upon which way the wind is blowing, and whether I can park nearby. I don’t like carrying kit in the rain any distance.

It is not for anyone. If you do want to try it I suggest starting in your own backyard. You may be pleasantly surprised.