Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Life is just a tire swing"

"life is just a tire swing" - Jimmy Buffett

As you know I took off for northwest Montana in July to spend a little time looking for a new home away from home.  I'm not sure that Montana is the place for me just yet but we sure loved it.  We loved all the people we met and all the fun stuff that we did.  You can see here one of the kids playing on the rope over the Stillwater river that runs behind the property where we stayed.  My husband even joined in on the fun.  This is probably how we should spend most of our free time in life.

It was so peaceful and enjoyable out here by the river that we all decided to hang out and do it again on our last night.  Out in Montana, unbeknownst to me, the summer days are much longer than ours in south Louisiana.  So, even though it seems the middle of the afternoon it was much later.  This gave me more time to do everything I wanted during the day and then come back and still have a couple of hours to paint.  While they played on the rope in the river, I painted.  You have to imagine me standing all the way to the right of the tree and bushes on the right of this photo looking back out to the river.  I couldn't see the kids or my husband going out over the river until they were at the furthest point they could swing out and then drop in.  So, it was quite entertaining as they yelled at me to watch (while I was painting of course) when they each went out.  Of course there were lots of "I'm awesome" and "Cowabunga" being yelled.  They did this for about an hour.  When they finished, I was too.  

"Stillwater, Montana" (Plein Air Study)
8" x 10", Oil on Panel

I miss this place already.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What happens when my husband works from home...

Audubon Lakes (Plein Air Study), 9" x 12", Oil on Panel

Buy through Daily Paintworks here.

So Friday morning my husband decided to work from home which usually motivates me to work somewhere else. So I did. I pack up Debbie's Open Box M, husband's tripod, and my new Best Brella Umbrella (thank God I did that - it was HOT). I brought the dog with me (for protection and companionship, of course). And I spent the morning painting this. When I posted on FB yesterday I mentioned that I needed to upload it to my blog, website, and Daily Paintworks so I can sell it. However, I needed to take care of cleaning bathrooms because we have guests coming.  Well, come this morning, I'm still cleaning.  This happens when you have children.  You clean, they "clean", then you have to clean what they "cleaned", again.  I'm so glad I painted this before I saw their bathroom.  Ugh!  Daily Paintworks, you're next.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Portable - Painting - Pochade

Day 1 - Figure Painting Group
Me on the left, Dad in Middle (Model), Maryland on Right
That's me on the left with my big, portable, metal, clunky easel.  The first large one I've ever owned.  I decided that I would use this one the first day of our new figure drawing group get together.  Basically, it's all I have that is portable and can use at this time.  Actually, this was at my house so it made the situation someone doable.  On the left is Marylyn.  She has an Open Box M with a separate tripod.  When she folds it all up and puts it together for travel, well, it fits just right into her backpack.  And, it doesn't weigh a whole lot.  Hum, which one is better?

The next week we went to Marylyn's house.  I was going to use the metal easel again.  But, Marylyn graciously allowed me to use her French easel.  This is the easel folded up.  She let me take it with me the following week on my vacation to the lake.  I was able to paint several paintings easily.  I'm still using this as I type up this blog.

The next photo shows me using the French easel at the lake house.  It was heavy enough and sturdy enough to use and travel with me by car.  I like a lot of things about this easel.  But, it's not something I want to bring on a plane with me and it surely will not fit into a backpack.  Although, I might get quite a workout if I manage to somehow strap it to my back and trek with it from place to place.  

So, a few days ago I put the word out that I was in the market for a new portable easel and/or pochade box and, I suppose, a tripod to go with all of this.  I have had several responses from different artists.  I've even had one friend that has gone the extra mile for me to contact artists she knows personally that do a lot of plein air painting and gotten their opinions about these "portable painting pochades".  The PPPs (I had to do that.  I said "ppps".)  Okay, just trying to be funny.

Now, the thought of spending more money on another piece of art equipment does not excite me.  Getting a new piece of art equipment that will help me work better and in a happier state of mind does excite me. So, I am taking the time to look at the boxes other artists are using and asking questions.  I have also looked at websites and blogs for input.  One of the first places I ventured to was to Lori Putnam's article on her blog about being prepared for Plein Air painting.  She gave so much information about what important factors to consider when you will be doing this type of painting.  She listed the different types of boxes out there and available for purchase.  She also told us what type of box she uses.  In her article Lori Putnam says the following:
"What do I use and why? 

Although I have tried many of these or friends of mine have them, it seems I always come back to my Open Box M. I have two different sizes. The smaller one works well if I know I am flying with limited packing space. I can still paint up to 16" wide on it so really, I'm not sure why I have a larger one except that I bought the larger one first.  The larger one is called a 10x12 and will accommodate panels up to 18" wide. The palette/mixing area is 10"x12" (hence the name). Just for the luxury of the extra mixing space, I use the 10x12 most of the time. The Open BoxM is light weight and it fits into my back pack with all of my other gear stuffed around it. After I attach the palette/panel holder to my camera quick release plate on my tripod, I can tilt the palette at an angle (see image below). Also see that the palette (bottom portion) is not very deep. I much prefer both of these attributes as opposed to paining on a horizontal surface or into a deep-lipped lid like some other brands have. Tilting the palette helps me keep the sun off of my mixing area (which tends to mess up the accuracy of my values). " 

This is the same box my friend, Marylyn, is using.

My husband was also kind enough to make me a box based upon a box made by James Coulter which can be found here at Art Box and Panel.  I like this box but it is too large to put in a back pack and I still don't have a lightweight tripod to use with it.  James Coulter has three different sizes and also has a separate panel holder which has a fantastic design.  Perhaps I should shop for a tripod first and then a new box second.  Hum.  

Here I am in Montana working off of a picnic table because I still haven't purchased my travel painting setup.  

Linda Nickles (go check out her website) gave me the following advice:
My friend Debbie D. told me you were looking at new pochade boxes. I do a lot of plein air painting, and consequently own several different ones. If you are looking for one that is easy to travel with, especially air travel, I'd go with the 8x10 Open M box. It is lightweight, and sturdy with the Manfrotto tripod. I also own the larger 12x18 size. That being said, I prefer using the James Coulter Artbox system because it sets up quickly and easily. Unlike the Open M box, there are no springs to fight with, in getting a panel in place. I have three different sizes of Coulter's Artbox, and I LOVE it. I often take the 12x18 size to workshops. One of the best features of the ArtBox are the two wings that open up on either size of the palette box. They are great for holding a can of turp, or paints, or brushes. You can get the whole system -- palette box, tripod, and panel holder for under $300. Go to his site and check it out. Hope this helps!
Denise Rose sent me this advice via my friend, Debbie.  If you don't know who she is you can check her out on her website and her blog.  She does a lot of plein air work, too.  Here is what she said:
I would recommend the Art Box and Panel (one by artist James Coulter) at this point in time. It is my favorite and I have the smallest size and also the middle size (he has 3 sizes). She does need the tripod that he sells with it because it fits the little "handles" on the box. It is the easiest to set up and the quickest and for plein air painting, my favorite. Tell her to google them and take a look. You can also give her my email if you want and tell her to ask me anything!!
So, it all has come back to the James Coulter model box and the Open Box M box.  The first one I kind of already have since my husband made one for me based on Coulter's box.  And the second, well, I just finally ordered one.  I ordered the Open Box M and a tripod to go with it.  It was a financial investment for me but I can justify a portion of the cost since my husband is a great photographer and will be happy to use the new, lighter weight tripod for his hobby, too.  If I decide to let him.

So, now the waiting game begins.  I have to wait 2-4 weeks before this new box comes in the mail.  Hurry!  Please!  Hurry!  Thanks.

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