Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Produce at the Wood Swink
oil on panel
This week I think I will give some information about the versatility of pochade boxes in the field. You can actually use them in studio as well and I have done that many times. In studio, it is easy to put them on a workbench to stand and paint, or on your tripod. I also sit at a work table and use them. I have two boxes, one for acrylic or gouache, and the other for oils. I keep them both set up and ready to use at all times. I always have two sets of every medium and brushes,one for in studio and one for in my car studio. It makes life so much easier for me. When I have to reorder, I just get two tubes of each color or two brushes, one for each set.
You are not restricted to any size with a pochade box. They say they are made for one size but I often go as large as 14x18 down to 4x6 inches on my 9x12 box. I simply use a large spring clamp to clamp the panel to the edge of the box. You can also use a bungee or the little bungee gizmos that the pochade box companies make if you want to spend more money. Some of them, like Guerilla Box make inserts to fit various sized panels, which fit in the lid. Again, nice but unnecessary with a clamp instead. I use a piece of plastic coated framing wire to hold my paper towel on to the box. You don't need their attachment. You could also use string.
You also don't have to buy special brushes. You can cut off the ends of your longer ones and tape the ends to fit inside your box.
The tripods allow you to adjust heights to many levels, for sitting or standing, including uneven hills and so forth. I use a garden bench for sitting when I'm too tired to stand. I prefer to stand but at paint outs, I am often tired after four or five days of painting in a row. The benches are available at garden centers and home improvement stores. They are really great. The have a foam padded seat in a narrow rectangle with metal legs on springs that fold flat, so it looks like a flat rectangle when it is folded up. It takes about 30 seconds to set up and put away. it fits right in the file box on wheels with the pochade box.
I use the file boxes on wheels for my gear. They are cheap, about 25.00 and have a collapsible handle. They fold up flat if you need to store them. Lots of painters use those big wheeled things with the canvas seat and flaps and so forth, but that is too much work for me. I go fast and lean. I usually will just carry my box over my shoulder on the tripod with a bottle of water unless I have a long way to go. Then I use the file box. The file box will hold two pochade boxes, the bench and tripod, sunscreen,bug juice and a few panels.
The lid to the box can be adjusted to almost any angle for your comfort, including flat for watercolors.
These boxes will take an unbelievable amount of abuse. My advice is to buy from a company who has a good reputation. My first Guerilla box is now 8 or 9 years old. It is still working though it looks horrible. That is a worthy investment.
Check them all out and ask a lot of questions before you buy. Talk to other painters and figure out the style you like best. These boxes are worth the investment, whatever brand you choose.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
oil on canvas
My advice today is about getting the best painting possible. So many landscape painters have fallen into the trap of believing that alla prima or plein air is some sort of magic. To me plein air painting is simply a useful tool in helping to create a good painting. There is nothing magical about it. I believe that getting the best painting is the goal. If I start a painting on location but can't finish it there, because of time constraints, weather, wind, heat or any number of reasons; I can finish the painting in my studio and improve it. That is the goal for me. I don't market my work as either plein air or studio really, since I do both. I find that my patrons really have no interest in whether the painting is pure plein air or pure studio. They really don't care. The only people who do seem to care about this issue are the artists I call the plein air police.
I believe we are wise to have the best possible painting as our end goal. If you bring a painting home from the field and it still needs tweaking, by all means, improve it if you can. if nothing you do will enhance it in any way, call it done and frame it!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I'm going to be painting in this beautiful place for a week starting Friday. Don't give up on me. I will return soon with more painters tips.
It is pretty easy to lose focus in a painting when you are out on location or painting in front of others for a demonstration. What you need is a plan before you begin. Think about what drew you to the scene and rely on that for the theme of your paintng. Let go of all but the main elements and rank them by importance. Keep the number small and think, main element, secondary elements, tertiary elements. How will you lead the viewer through the painting to rest on these elements? What paths will you create to lead the viewer? Will you use values in such a way as to establish paterns or paths? Will you allow a dominant value in the painting to create more interest? Will you create anchors or stops in the composition to prevent the viewer from going out of the painting? Where is the direction of light? What is the source? How will you feature the main element?
Where will you feature the most texture and hard edges, where soft and blurred? Remember that you are in charge of the painting and it's theme and development. Paintings are not about copying nature. You are the conductor of the orchestra, or the arranger if you will. Your job is to create a beautiful painting that viewers will fall in love with and want to look at over and over again.
Thinking through all of these questions and answering them will help you to stay focused on the process and the painting, bringing it to fruition with control, not chaos. Will any of us always create beautiful exceptional paintings? Likely not, but our goal is to strive for that excellence each time we put brush to canvas. Careful analysis will help us come closer to that goal.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Honeymoon Island Palms
oil on panel
See my paintings HERE
This exercise is a warm up for painting. If you get into the habit of the quick draw before you begin serious painting, you will improve your observation, brushwork, and technical skills.
It is simple. Just set a timer for 15 minutes get your palette ready and a small canvas. Paint for 15 minutes, completing the painting in that time. No talking, music or distractions. Do nothing but paint. Do them on Index paper, save them in your notebooks and you will begin to see great improvement over the months. You can use them as preliminary studies for composition, color and values, saving many mistakes by working out problems on the quick draw.
The other reason for doing the quick draw is that it allows you transition time from your everyday life and problems to the focus you need to do good work.