Watercolor painting on long river trips? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-15-2019   #1
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 75
Watercolor painting on long river trips?

I'm curious if anyone paints on the river.

What supplies do you bring?

How do you clean up your brushes etc in a leave no trace way?

Any practical tips?

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Old 05-15-2019   #2
FlyingDutchman's Avatar
Hampden, Massachusetts
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Posts: 347
I am not a riverside artist.

Pack it in, pack it out. Keep it simple.

Possibly rinse brushes in water or solvent in like a plastic recyclable Gatorade bottle or something. Seal up the bottle and pack it out. dispose the inky water appropriately elsewhere (off the river).
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Old 05-15-2019   #3
FlyingDutchman's Avatar
Hampden, Massachusetts
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Stick the brushes into the bottle and swirl around, or seal and shake if the hole brush and handle fit in. Maybe use like two 32 ounce Gatorade bottles. Like a pre rinse and a final rinse. Pack it out.
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Old 05-15-2019   #4
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
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I've never had someone do anything more then use a sketchbook on a trip, but there is plenty to be inspired by down there.

Without being too much of a downer, I'd either commit to doing it a lot or leave it at home and take pictures of stuff that you want to paint when you get home. I find that, especially for something like a Grand Canyon trip, people often have ideas for activities like this that take up time and space and only end up doing it once or twice during the trip but lug everything down they need to do it. Realize that the paint, tools and paintings will have to get stowed somewhere safe and that the river environment can be particularly harsh on stuff. I'm definitely not saying that you shouldn't do it...just saying that, from personal experience, having the idea is easy... actually getting motivated to do it after a full day of rafting and side activities isn't always easy. I always bring too much stuff that I never use... so I just encourage you to consider if its worth it and if you'll actually do it.
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Old 05-15-2019   #5
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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While I value the water quality of the Colorado, looking at this from a different, it may be possible to get watercolor paints that are non-toxic, likely such as those that may be used for schoolchildren. I'd then think that using a gallon or two of river or creek water to clean your brushes daily would create a minimal amount of wash water. To me it seems like the effect of pouring this slowly into the river so it gets diluted by the 8,000 to 15,000 cfs likely flowing down the Colorado should be pretty low, especially when compared to the urine produced by the thousand people peeing into the river on any given day.

If you were dumping oil paints or petroleum into the river, I'd say no way, but there must be non-toxic watercolor paints on the market out there and I can't see how it would be all that bad...

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 05-15-2019   #6
Denver, Colorado
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I thought this was an interesting question because I saw a fantastic exhibit by a watercolorist named Tony Foster a few years ago at Denver Art Museum about a GC float where he painted a series of landscapes at mapped points. No idea what his disposal method was but some other online info suggested:

- watercolors are very low toxicity
- cobalts and cadmiums are more toxic than the rest but not very

Does seem like the rinse water volumes you're talking about are really tiny.
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Old 05-15-2019   #7
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lafayette or Grand Lake, Depends on mood, Colorado
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Lets think about this. A cup or two of water color paint rinse water in a river vs. 2,000 gallons of fertilizer and 10,000 gallons of cow shit. Decisions, decisions, decisions it is so hard to decide which is worse.
Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life on or off the river.
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Old 05-15-2019   #8
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 75
Thanks everyone!

I’m actually going on the Salmon. I’m not an artist- just enjoy painting to chill- especially mixing colors to remember the cool colors I’ve seen on a trip that never seem quite perfect in photos.

I have a travel kit that is the size of a checkbook holder and usually paint on 5x7 paper when traveling. So it’s not a huge space commitment- not much bigger than a beer can.

I will admit they came down the Rogue with me untouched- but I was hoping to better understand how others do it.

I’ve seen watercolor painting trips on the middle fork- so somebody is doing it!

Thanks for the ideas!
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Old 05-15-2019   #9
the grove, Oregon
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Ask Chad, he is an amazing artist and river enthusiast
Moab Art: Chad Niehaus, Landscape Artist in Moab, Utah
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