Bill Cone Plein Air Workshop Supplies List

Bill Cone Plein Air Workshop Supplies List

Please note that if you have materials and a setup you are comfortable with, you are welcome to use that. It is important that you be reasonably familiar with your gear, and that you are able to carry it for up to a half mile or so. For those that need a simple field kit, study the list below, and pick up the items you need. Keep it portable. You’ll have more choices outdoors if you’re able (and willing) to hike a short distance to find the best view. Having the right equipment will make a difference.

You can see a breakdown of Bill’s setup here: http://billcone.blogspot.com/2015/02/


  • I use a variety of soft pastels that are compatible with each other, Primarily Terry Ludwig, and Blue Earth, with some Unison, and Mt. Vision. Most mid-size set of landscape colors (except half-stick Sennelier) will be a good starting point. Bring as many colors as you are comfortable hiking a short distance with. You can always leave some in camp.


  • Canson Paper cut into quarters of the original sheet size, so roughly 9 x 12″ Some useful colors for atmosphere and water are Moonstone, Dawn Pink, Flannel, Ivy, Tobacco, and Pearl Grey.  I do vary my choice according to location and lighting conditions.
  • If you are partial to sanded paper, go ahead and use it. Many folks prefer it. I am just used to using Canson, and am well aware of the differences between them. 


  • Support: 11 x 14 sheet of 1/4′ foam core as your support for painting.
  • 11 x 14 pad of tracing paper: This is a simple way to store your finished pastels, as well as your blank sheets of paper.
  • You can also make your own pad out of Glassine paper, which is a sort of very smooth wax paper, and is a little more protective than tracing paper. You can buy it in sheets or sometimes a roll, and just trim it down to 11×14, and clip or glue it to a backing board. This is what I do.
  • Binder clips: You’ll want at least 2 clips to mount paper on the foam core, or to clip your pad and foam core together.
  • Drafting tape: 1/4″ tape to tack down any loose ends of paper in a breeze. (This is optional. If you have 4 clips, you don’t need tape)
  • Sketchbook: Any small ring bound sketchbook in the 8.5 x 5.5 size is recommended for compositional studies and notes.
  • Prismacolor Pencil(s): Black or Indigo blue
  • Easel: A portable easel. I am currently using a Heilman Backpack easel that is mounted on a tripod. (www.heilmandesigns.com)
  • Umbrella: Shade is an essential component of working outdoors in order to balance and control the light on your artwork as well as your palette. The one I have used for many years the ‘Best Bella’, is no longer being made, so you’ll have to shop around.
  • Wet wipes: A small pack of these is helpful to keep your fingers clean while you work, as well as at the end of a session.
  • Folding Stool: This is optional. For years I worked sitting down, with a board in my lap, and my pastels on the ground. I am currently using an easel, but prefer the option of sitting or standing while I work. There are several models available from REI that are quite portable. And there’s always the option of sitting on the ground!