Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tips for Packing Plein Air Painting Gear!

 One of my friends commented that she would like to see more of my plein air painting set-up, so I shot these photos to show how I organize and pack my gear for a day of painting outdoors. I usually use a plain Julian style easel, which affords me plenty of room to stow everything I need. When I'm painting in the studio, I open and use this easel on my work table. So it's always full of my supplies, and ready to just snap shut to take it out for a day outside.

In the bottom drawer, I have my oil paints and a ruler (I often use a ruler to draw straight lines, and also use it for sight perspective) on one side, and the other side contains my brushes, spatulas (for mixing paint, painting, and wiping out), pliers (in an eyeglass case to keep it from banging around), and some wadded up bags for garbage.  The piece of foam is used as a divider, to hold the brushes in place so they don't get all mangled up when I travel. I don't carry a lot of oil colors with me, as I prefer to use a split primary system and mix colors as needed. Here I have three reds, three yellows, and three blues, and an extra large tube of white. These are the Pre-tested Professional Oils from Grumbacher - an excellent quality paint which I'm currently testing and reviewing. 

I tend to switch back and forth between watercolors and oils when I go out to paint en plein air, so I pack what I need for both. The top drawer contains a travel palette of half-pan watercolors in a protective drawstring bag so the case doesn't get all banged up. Next to that is a bungee cord for holding paper towels, and a collapsible cup for water. I have a jar of Liquin and a piece of shelf liner to help me get the lid off. That's all I use to mix my oils, and I don't carry any turps, either. The film can is in case I need an empty container for something. There's a small spray bottle of water to moisten my watercolors, a bit of sea sponge to create textures, a piece of Magic Eraser for lifting watercolor, and a pack of moist towelettes  that will remove oil paint off of hands and other surfaces. The next section is 1" and 2" wide brushes. Normally, brushes that are that wide have really long handles, which take up a lot of space. I like short handles for plein air because they free up space for me to pack other gear. This line of brushes from Dynasty Brush is called "Palmer" because they fit in the palm of your hand. I  also have some pencils, marking pens, and a value finder (red for landscapes and seascapes). In the plastic zippered pouch I keep a pencil sharpener, some sandpaper, salt (for texture in watercolors), a paint scraper to clean my oil palette, eraser, some binder clips, leg spikes, and some rubber bands. The old slide mounts are great little view finders, and I always keep a spare pair of  eyeglasses in the case.

Here's the drawer with my freshly scraped palette in place. It's just a piece of 11x14 glass, and I taped a piece of neutral grey matboard to the back of it. The matboard helps me to see true color when I'm mixing my paint, and it provides a layer of protection between the glass and the stuff in the drawer.

This is a wheeled bag/cart/chair! As you can see, my plein air easel fits in it perfectly. On the seat are some canvas panels, watercolors pads, and a sketchbook which all fit in the front pocket, leaving room for my water bottles, paper towels, and umbrella to still fit in with my easel.

This is the whole kit and caboodle, all packed and folded up, ready to wheel away. After I photographed this, I tucked my camera into it too, and strapped my tripod to the top with a bungee.
So, that's my set-up and gear for plein air. Everything I need to paint both watercolors and oils! When I go out to paint "just for fun" (ie: when I'm not painting in a plein air competition) I just take a pan of watercolors and a few things. Wanna see the details of my watercolor kit? click here!

After I originally posted this, I became flooded with inquiries from artists who want to get one of these folding carts for their own. It appears that no one is making this particular item anymore. Their are similar carts available, which you can find by searching for Wheeled Carts with Seats on the internet. Seeing how a standard size french easel fits perfectly in the bag, this really should be an item for artist supply retailers to add to their catalogs! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:04 PM   4 Comments

Monday, May 26, 2014

Join me for painting en plein air!

I hope you can join me painting en plein air this week! On wednesday, I'll be painting with Nancy Riedell and the Bethleham Palette Club at the Allentown Rose Garden in the morning.
On Saturday, I'll be pianting with the Philadelphia Watercolor Society at the Kirkwood Preserve in Willistown Township. I'll be using both watercolors and oils at these events, and also demonstrating some new products. Keep checking this blog and my Calendar Page to see where I'll be painting next -- I'm adding new events constantly.
Or just keep an eye out and maybe you'll see me painting out somewhere, on the spur of the moment -- if you see a silver Mercedes with an easel nearby, it'll probably be me! I hope to see you out there this season! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:48 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cleaning up my studio and getting the paints out!

I've been so busy, I haven't had time to post anything here! The annual Chester County Studio Tour was a huge success, and my studio was packed with patrons and artists all weekend. It was exhausting, and I'm just now getting rested up enough to get back to painting.
 Grumbacher recently sent me these luscious new oil colors to test and review. I was too busy preparing for the studio tour last week so I haven't had time to paint with them, yet. Today I've got to catch up on critiquing the homework of my art students, but then I'll be playing with these new paints for the rest of the week! I'll let you know how it turns out!

Just in time to play with my new oil paints, Dynasty Brush sent me all these great brushes, too! I'm pretty sure I'm going to LOVE those 2" flat handled brushes for watercolors. Those will be absolutely perfect for my larger paintings and triptychs. The Palmer line of brushes have a short, broad handle, which I love for painting en plein air. I think I might be the only artist who prefers short handled brushes! I love them because they take up less room in my pochade, so they are easier to pack and carry around. These are 1" and 2", which would normally take up quite a bit of valuable space if they had the traditional long handles.
With all these new art supplies, you can expect some new paintings posted here real soon!
toodles for now...

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:38 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Annual Chester County Studio Tour

Be sure to come out and see me this weekend at the Annual Chester County Studio Tour! My studio at 105 Kabob Lane in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania will be open Saturday and Sunday, 9am - 6pm. There will be painting demonstrations, door prizes, and lots of gorgeous art, so be sure to come out early! Check out the full list of artists and the tour map online before you get started, or pick up a catalog for the event at my studio. I'm looking forward to seeing you!

posted by Annie Strack @ 11:13 AM   0 Comments

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