My husband and I have been married for NINE years and we have tried to make an effort to continually date each other - especially since our son was born (mama needs a break, amiright?). As you can imagine, after awhile it's hard to come up with creative date night ideas. We occasionally go to the movies, but usually settle for dinner and shopping around Home Goods or Lowe's. My poor husband. 

After finding out I have food sensitivities that severely limit which restaurants I can eat at, we've gotten pretty tired of our old standby. That's when my husband came up with the idea to find a place to paint outside together! My heart got all a flutter - whether because my man wanted to paint with me or because I've dreamt of painting at Chatham Manor for awhile now remains to be said. ;) I called our babysitter, threw all our supplies in a canvas bag, and packed up the car. Time for some fun!

More serious/professional painters typically would use an easel of some sort for this kind of activity, but since this isn't something I normally do - we improvised. If you are looking for a more permanent solution, you can find one HERE.

For the everyday/amateur painter, here is a list of supplies you will find helpful:


  1. Watercolor paints
  2. Paint brushes in your favorite sizes (I like to use 2, 6, 10)
  3. Watercolor paper block (you can use a loose sheet and a clipboard too!)
  4. Bottle of water & plastic cup
  5. Camping chair (it's helpful if your plastic water cup can fit in the cup holder!)
  6. Small napkin or paper towel
  7. Camera (it's nice to take a few pictures for reference if you don't finish painting in one session)

Here is a photo of our setup:

Plein Air Painting Supplies

I started my session with a loose warmup and painted some tulip blossom shapes, some of the ornamental grasses, and the tiny violet petals. I'll admit, it was a bit awkward trying to get used to the setup AND my fingers were freezing, but it was so nice to be outside! Especially with my handsome fella beside me. ;) 

Emerald & Ivy Studios: Creative Date Night Activity!

After loosening up a little, I started painting the manor itself. It is such a beautiful building - and definitely out of my comfort zone! I wasn't able to finish before sunset, but it was such an enjoyable activity. 

Emerald & Ivy Studios: Creative Date Night Activity!

Emerald & Ivy Studios: Creative Date Night Activity!

Isn't Chatham Manor just beautiful? I can't wait to go back when the garden is in full bloom.

Emerald & Ivy Studios: Creative Date Night Activity!

Our semi-finished projects! It was so nice to spend time together in nature doing one of my favorite activities! So lucky I got this handsome fella.