Monday, August 26, 2013

Flexible Travel Easel

My brother is a guitar maker.  So he has made a pochade box that I am finding very useful.  It is small for travel, but it is also durable, light, flexible, adjustable, and fast to set up.

Panel and Palette Holder Version

When I travel by air I pack very light.  I only take the box, no tripod.  Then I paint with the box on my lap, on a table, on a fence, or whatever.

Small Feet

The feet allow for setup on rocks and such.  The tripod mount is visible here as well.

Mounting a Small Panel

The box opens to any position you wish and there are no wing nuts and struts to frustrate you.  The top holder slides out so the board (or canvas) can be mounted.  Just seconds.

To Eye Height

In a few seconds you can move the bottom panel holder into position for your eye height.  I really like this feature because I like to paint from below the bottom of the panel to facilitate creative brush strokes.

A 12x16 Panel

This thing is very flexible.  Here is a larger panel.  But you can also mount it 16x12.  This allows for painting 16x20 or wider.  For me this covers most of my plein air needs regarding size.

16x12 or 16x20

So I have found this box satisfies my plein air needs unless I go to a larger painting than 16x 20 or 16x24.  I can use this arrangement pretty much every day.  For that I add the palette extension wing.

Ready to Paint

There you have it.  Since I am in the habit of carrying a compact back pack, I find carrying my paint, medium, cleaner, sketch book etc. in small light containers is not a problem.

My brother has been supplying these to other painters now.  So, if you are interested in obtaining one of these, you can email me at and I will put you in contact.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Portable Easel Evaluation

Painting on site is an animal very different from the sterile studio experience.  Not that the studio is a bad place.  There is not much in the out of doors that is controllable including the weather, the light, the people, or the bugs.  But the rewards, infinite.  So, I have collected a number of easels for my development in the great out of doors.  If I could only have one easel for that purpose I would choose my old French Jullian Easel shown on the left below.

Some of My Easels

I have used this easel for twenty years.  I'm familiar with her to the point where it takes me about two minutes to set up.  Others seem never to master this type of easel.  She has been all over with me.  We have painted in storms, with large canvas, in the water, in the snow, and even in the studio.  She is versatile and I have never been blown down.  Everything in one package.  However, you can see I have quite a collection of other easels.

open and Ready

A few years back while hiking the Chickenishing Trail at 35C I came to realize that my French Easel was both heavy and awkward.  So began the hunt for something light.  The second from the left is an all in one pochade box.  Yup, lighter that the French, but it requires a tripod.  And that gets blown down.  She is a beautiful box, well thought out.  The next easel is a palette and board holder.  You bring everything else in a separate container. This is also a popular product, simple and rugged.  Needs a tripod.  I have found that I take all sorts of things in a back pack no matter which easel I use - pencil, view finder, paper towels, garbage bag, sketch book, camera and so forth.  So only having a palette and board holder is fine with me.  The box on the right is a home made super light piece.  Maybe a pound.  But doesn't do much.  For example I have to hold the painting surface in position.  It is held on the lap or a stone fence or whatever is handy.  Now I could spend some more time and make it more substantial, but I'd rather paint.  For you information, I have been blown down with each of these smaller boxes.  That incidence could be reduced by a tripod upgrade.  I have one in mind that is simple, light and rugged.

So my brother, a guitar maker, had a look at this collection and has made me a box to aid me in my light travels.  I'll show it next time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Habits and Changing Them

It is always interesting when I teach.  I get to observe others painting.  I learn a lot.  And I see numerous bad habits brought along from previous experiences.  I have found that these are hard to change.  My teacher was very truthful and forceful regarding habits that lead to better painting.  Today everything is deemed beautiful, great, wonderful.

A Guest Student

Here is a short list of my observations.  These pertain to objective painting.

Drawing versus painting.
A dive in start without ability to draw.
Ditto without perspective.
Ditto without regard to concept including design.
Ditto with regard to value.
Formulaic approach.
Trial and error approach.
Inability to mix colours.
Inability to mix grey.
Painting what one thinks, not what one sees.
Incessant dabbing without even looking at the subject.
Licking the canvas while trying to determine what to do next.
Changing direction in mid course.
Aversion to some pigments on hearsay.
Inability to manoeuvre the brush, knife etc.

The list goes on.

Yesterday I heard the excuse "I haven't got time to learn to draw (do perspective, mix colours etc.)  Of course that same person has the time to use trial and error over and over again in search of a better painting.  Slow way to make progress.