This Weeks Topic:
Materials and Equipment for Plein Air Painting
The Winter is pretty well over here, and with the more comfortable temperatures, we are gearing up for another busy year of plein air painting.
One way to give yourself a good start is to make sure that you are well prepared with the proper materials and equipment. It's often been my experience to see many enthusiastic and talented student painters become disappointed with their results because of poor equipment and lack of organization. Let me make some suggestions that will hopefully have a positive influence on you and your "open air" painting.
Let's start with the easel.
The standard 'French Easel' is a plein air artist's primary piece of gear. It contains the paint box, palette, small canvases etc, and serves as the platform on which to paint. It is somewhat of a time consuming thing to set up, but it has a solid stance (if all of the nuts and bolts are tightened properly). They can be a problem for some smaller painters, but fortunately there are half-sized easels with less of the weight but with the same clever construction.
Here is how I set up with my large French Easel. You may notice how it has the advantage of workspace in front and back. The Shadebuddy umbrella is a necessity for most days.
Here is a close up of palette and a broad selection of bristle and synthetic brushes. Remember that bristle brushes are hollow and do not work well with water soluble pigments. The containers are for medium and cleaner. (Stay tuned for an upcoming newsletter where I elaborate on the type and use of brushes as well as the pros and cons of solvents, cleaners and mediums in a later newsletter.)
I am showing a range of materials that I use on a typical painting trip. From left to right: Bar of laundry soap for final brush cleaning, liquid medium, alkyd walnut oil medium, vegetable oil for cleaning brushes, apron, lint free paper towels, view finder, pliers and an assortment of hats. (Don't forget the bug spray.)
I must admit that I do use solvents such as Taltine and even turps if I am outside for my cleaning and underpainting...the health risk of turps is minimized and I can enjoy it's fast drying qualities.
Here is a photo of my Canoe Pack which holds all of a days equipment and materials. (including a couple of beers)
Above, I am teaching a workshop in Gibsons, British Columbia on my Soltek Easel. The Soltek is a modern aluminum design which has become very popular with plein air painters because of it's lightness of weight and speed of assembly.
P.S. The umbrella and holder is not standard equipment....and no, I don't have little yellow and white wings...that's an umbrella behind me. :D
Quote of the week:
"An artist is not paid for his labor, but for his vision."