Art on the Go

In addition to my FAQ in Back, I will periodically share methods to my madness. Today, it's a few painting supplies for outdoors. My version is specific to a few items. Check out Jennifer Young for the whole scoop.

To the left is my pastel set up, which I discuss below. It's placed here because it is so pretty.

The first order of business today is oils. I covet would like a fancy outdoor pochade, essentially a wooden cigar box on a tripod. There are a couple that I'd be interested in purchasing and I'll compare them for you.

The 10x12 Bitterroot Lite by Alla Prima is $239 and 4lbs. The 10x12 Butterroot is $289 and 6lb4oz, with an integrated carrier and optional extender. The 11x14 Yellowstone is 7lb and $310. I have not seen these babies in action, but the website has great videos. They don't look made, they look engineered.

I have seen the Easyl brand in action, though, particularly in classes and workshops with Sara Linda Poly; both she and some of her students use them. I believe she uses their Lite, which is 10x12, 3lb6oz, and $229, to include the tripod, or their 11x14 , 4lb9oz Pro at $249. It carries two paintings in the lid and she uses Raymar for most of her wet carrying needs. Easyl has sizes from 8x10 all the way up to 12x16 and, like those from Alla Prima, they can hold much larger pieces while painting.

Along with her finished product, here are a couple videos of Sara with her Easyl in use.

In the mean time, before I take the dive because there's always a new and better system on the horizon, I have used a French easel for several years; it was a very thoughtful gift. However, it is now verging on defunct, wood cracking, losing too many screws and thumbscrews. If you saw Paul Reuther's well-loved easel, for which he brings wood glue and clamps to the field each time to nurse it, you'd consider me prissy in my evaluation of my easel.

This is my easel in full regalia. Because I am a MacGuyver type, I jimmied with cable ties and did everything I could to keep that umbrella in place. A gust tumbled it all over, so it is now spattered with oil and grass stains. Umbrellas are trying to attach and to keep positioned. It's best to have the canvas and the paints in the shade, but it's tough to get those, plus the artist, evenly shaded for long.

Hmm, maybe that tumble is when my easel cracked?

The picture to the right is Tanner's Ridge and my limping easel. Because of the crack and a loose screw, it collapsing the next day made me have to do some touch ups on a painting victim. I want to move on to avoid that risk again.

As you can see, I was bunjied down this day; it was the worst gusts I had encountered. See how I like to use the rear of the car as an umbrella? A car is merely an expensive umbrella and painting carrier. Setting up like this is a good way to start the day, although it never stays that way long. Funny thing, that sun moving.

I use a Masterson tray for my palette. Add to that disposable palette paper. Tres gauche. But the space! The Masterson tray is 12x16 and I use nearly every inch, plus it doubles as a brush rest. How on earth could I go down to the 10x12 surface of a pochade? Thoughts?

Since the Disaster at Tanner's Ridge (News at 11), I pulled out a Mabef easel I'd purchased and rejected. Well, when you finally put the thing together correctly, you'll like it. Just sayin'. I got mine from Dakota and they call it a Tripod Field Easel. Not only is it lovely wood and hardware, it is light. I've seen it accompanying a folding chair together inside the same bag, very portable, but I do want to rig a shoulder strap to it somehow.

In the past for pastels plein air and for classes, I used an ArtComber from Jerry's to haul supplies and to sit on once there. It's essentially a canvas granny shopping cart. Painting from my car, I haven't needed it lately, but I may pull it out for my class beginning next week, because I'll bring several sets of pastels in addition to my plein air monster set, which began as that lovely color-coordinated French Companion pictured. My Companion is now a good bit fuller, a lot more disheveled, and very much loved. In this and the first photo, notice the Koh-I-Noor Giaconda Pastel Pencil Set of 48 on the right. It stores perfectly in the French Companion's lid.

If you get an ArtComber, take good care of the wheels. It's not built for the Baha. I was quite gentle for some time, until I yanked it out the front door and down the step on the way to Poly's workshop this summer. Coincidentally, another artist there had one, asked me how I liked it (Great!), then mentioned that her wheels are wonky, won't stay on. Lo and behold, I'd broken the interior wheel supports that morning and mine is now wonky, too, but still usable with adjustments. [ETA: my version and this artist's were from a few years ago. I recently saw a new acquisition and it looked to have different wheels that wouldn't do this.]

When I go out in a simple fashion, I'll grab my French Companion, my tripod stool with a shoulder strap, and a KOOOL Binder to go light. Enlarge the easel and ArtComber picture, above, to see a KOOOL Binder. I sit with the French Companion on my lap and hold the binder. I do not use easels for pastels when I am using a binder, because they provide a hard backing and are easy to manipulate. I think they add speed.

This Saturday from 11 to 5 or so (depending on how my son holds up), I'll be painting with NOVAL in Historic Leesburg with Fall Into the Arts. We'll be set up across from Gallery 222 on the Town Green. Here's hoping for no rain and some angle on a big sky.


Barrett House Meadow

The hurricane sky called and I had to paint. A jumble of clouds provide the background story with a penetrating shaft of light as the star.

The historic Barrett House is on the DC Federal Prison grounds near the Workhouse Arts Center and these mounds are between it and the one lane bridge on Furnace Road.

As so often happens, this painting looks incredible from a short distance. The depth is distinctive and exciting. Tis a keeper.

Barrett House Meadow
Pastel on Wallis

Third Place Winner in Landscapes at Infinity Art Gallery, January, 2010.

Art Prints


Sounds of Wolf Trap

Lorrie Herman is a sweetheart and she has an uncanny ability to carve extra hours out of the day. Because of her, I joined Northern Virginia Artists League, a group with a plein air emphasis for which she serves as President. My first jaunt out with them was to the International Children's Festival at Wolf Trap, per their invitation by the Arts Council of Fairfax County. Although I tried a different location first, I settled into the coolness behind the main meadow next to the gurgling stream.

This painting was almost finished on site, then I worked on further definition in my studio.

Pastel on Wallis, 5x7


Aden Stand

It was getting late on Sunday and I needed to paint before getting my son back. I headed over to near where he was, so I could swing by and get him after painting.

That led me to Aden, a small area, not a town even, which I'd driven through once before. It was this day that I realized I was a sucker for a stand of trees in front of a treeline. The inclination is so natural that I never put thought into it.

This painting was particularly fun, because I use a knife on the stand to differentiate it from the line.

Aden Stand
Oil on Gessoboard