Plein air painting with Children - Top 5 lessons

Kerr Park
plein air sketch
Yesterday we made it outside, in spite of the wind whipping at our faces and past our ears, and spent some time at Kerr Park.  I was able to learn a couple new lessons for plein air painting.  The first is to make sure your ears are covered if it's very windy or you'll be dizzy and your eyes won't focus as well.  The second is to place a rock in the tin of turps if you're placing it on a park bench or the wind will blow it off and you won't have anymore.  I got back into my studio and created a slightly larger sketch of the same location based on my initial plein air painting and photos taken since I couldn't complete the one en plein air without turps.
Kerr Park
in studio sketch

While I always learn great lessons about painting outside, I'm starting to notice there are several other lessons I've learned about bringing children on a plein air painting trip.

1) Always have food, coloring books, and a blanket.  They're outside so they'll always be hungry, they'll always be looking for a place to sit down that isn't in the mud, and they'll sometimes need to warm up in the car so coloring helps keep them occupied while you clean up.

2) Keep your keys on a hook attached to your beltloop.  Never put them in a bag or a pocket because after painting, you won't be able to grab them quickly 

3) If not possible to plein air paint at a park with a playset, make sure to have a surprise up your sleeve like a soccerball or game of tag where you're the monster or hide and seek for after the plein air painting.  After all, they've allowed you to work and you've all earned the right to 20 minutes of fun before leaving.

4) Always scope out the nearest bathroom! Even if you take the required pre-emptive strikes of minimal liquids for an hour before leaving and using the toilet before leaving the house, you will still hear "Mom, I need a toilet" just as you've finished setting up to paint.  If you know where the bathrooms are you can always stop on your way to setting up and get maybe an hour before the cry goes up again.

5) Take pictures of your kids as well as of your paintings.  My plein air painting is accompanied by the soundtrack of cries such as "Get the pirates!!" or "Run the alien's are coming!"  and (my personal favorite) "Don't go that way! There's a dragon guarding the treasure and she'll get you!"  It took me a minute before I realized I had been incorporated into the game as the dragon.  

Plein air painting is an adventure in itself, but with kids it's priceless.