Sunday, April 22, 2012

Painting at Shaker Village

Four of us, members of New Hampshire Plein Air, painted at Canterbury Shaker Village last week. We had sunshine, a perfect temperature and a slight breeze to blow away the bugs. What could  be better? I set up my paintbox on one of the stone walls near the old outhouse. Easy!

One of the workers came and dumped several loads of dirt nearby while we were painting. His tractor made a nice frame for one of the painters. 

The Village changes constantly. Right now, there are many trees and bushes flowering.

I've painted there many times, but there's always something new to see and paint. It's also a great place to visit and learn about the Shakers and how they lived. Look for the link to their website at the right.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The New Easel

A couple of months ago, I traded in my cheapo Chinese easel for the real deal, the Take-it easel from Tobin Nadeau (see the link at right). It's a world of difference! Adjustments are made to the legs by pulling out brass knobs, much better than the wiry hooks on the old one that got caught on everything. I got the "Stapleton Kearns" version, that has a nice fat carrying strap. In this photo, my panel is hooked on with a bungee, but there are three holes that can be used for a support rod instead. There's a roll of paper towels stuck onto the end of the crossbar. I loop a couple of tiny bungees over it to keep the towels from unwinding in the wind.
Here's my setup, with a brush holder on the right, a "turps" container hanging from a support bar and, on the left, a clip from a sporting goods shop that I use to hang my trash bag. No tying/untying or blowing away! My palette is a sheet of translucent plexiglas fitted into the cover of an ancient 12 x 16 paintbox. I took off the doohickey on the side so the box would lie flat. In the winter, before I leave home, I squeeze out paint onto a covered palette from Judson's, so I don't have to take off my gloves and mittens and open tubes with freezing fingers. The big palette is just for mixing. One thing you can't see is the sheet of rubbery shelf liner that I use under the box to keep it from sliding off the support bars. That's not usually an issue, but one windy day I noticed that my paintbox had blown sideways and was about ready to topple off. Problem solved.
The easel came with a set of "showshoes" that prevent the easel from sinking into deep snow. I didn't really need them this winter, as there wasn't much snow, but they're kind of cute.
My medium is Liquin, which I keep in a squeeze bottle (thanks to Mary Byrom for that tip!). I can squeeze out just the amount I want, using one still-gloved hand, with no mess. Everything fits in the box (including a 12 x 16 panel) except my lunch, water, a sketchbook and the paper towels, all of which go into a small backpack. The whole thing sets up or breaks down in about two minutes, not counting cleaning off the palette. This easel is my favorite piece of art equipment ever!