Category Archives: Art Supplies

My new Sienna set-up

I used this custom-made easel for years and years but it started to fall apart, so it was time to get something new! I wanted a set-up that I can use for both watercolor and oil painting.

There are many choices out there, most of them prohibitively expensive and with someone’s name attached to it. I don’t like that so much, that’s why I went for this simple and reasonably priced Sienna Plein Air Artist Pochade Box Easel, size Medium. It is quite easy to set up. More importantly, it holds painting sizes up to 14″ x 18″, which is as big as I would ever paint outside. The angle is adjustable and I can still use my sunshade. (Another big plus for me!)

While you can use any tripod, I ended up buying the coordinating Sienna Tripod Easel as well. If you have a good tripod already, you don’t need to. I tried my old one for a while but the whole thing was just too wobbly. A stable and light tripod is, unfortunately, quiet expensive but it is money well spent: the easel has to be rigid enough for drawing and withstand some wind.

I also like that my Holbein Metal Palette 500 fits exactly into the box opening! I definitely lucked out there… It comes with a tray to store a water container or painting medium and brushes. I don’t like having to hold a palette in my hands while painting, so this is one of its best features.

A note about the weight: The Pochade was advertised as 3.5 lbs, but I weighed it and it is definitely more than 4 lbs. I can’t say I like that, but it’s still acceptable as that weight includes the tempered glass. So no complaints here. I bought the medium, which is really a small size. Overall, I good product that I would recommend to a painting friend.

American Impressionist Society and New Brushes!!


While I was teaching in Albuquerque I got word that my painting won the ‘Award of Excellence for Watermedia’ at the 17th Annual National Juried Exhibition, held at the Howard Mandville Gallery in Kirkland Washington. This exhibition runs until October 30, 2016. If you’re in the area, please check it out! Some of the best painters in the country are part of it. It is 90% oil paintings, so I am very happy to have won an award with a watercolor.

Watercolors are generally ignored in the wider world of art. Especially galleries don’t like them, because they are mostly framed behind glass and they claim that they can’t sell them. The medium is arguably much harder to master and more expensive to frame, yet watercolors fetch only a fraction of the money an oil painting would. It has been like this historically and is unlikely changing any time soon. That’s why it is so important to get this recognition. Maybe it will help all of us watercolor artists.

I am happy to announce that I officially have my own brush line! I am very proud to work with DaVinci, one of the oldest brush manufacturer in the world. Today, almost all brushes are made in China, India and Sri Lanka. In the western world there are only a few original and small companies left that actually make brushes on-site. They are hand made by artisans who do three and five year apprenticeships! Nuremberg, Germany was always known as a brushmaker city and DaVinci is continuing this tradition despite all the cheap and low quality competition out there. These brushes come in three sizes (2, 4 and 6). They have newly developed, fully synthetic hair that holds the same amount of water a natural hairbrush would. Bristles never break and no animals were harmed in the process. Please check my website for more information!

Available in my workshops: DaVinci Casaneo 498

 

I am so excited and honored to be working with DaVinci Brushes! Introducing my new signature brushes, the Frank Eber by DaVinci Casaneo 498. Sizes 2, 4, and 6 will be available for purchase in my workshops! Most major art supply stores carry DaVinci brushes. In the United States this amazing German brand is represented by Gregory Daniels Fine Arts. If you can’t find them near you, just check in with Gregory!

I was invited for a factory tour at the company’s headquarters in Germany last November and the people at DaVinci introduced their amazing new brush to me. It is just like a squirrel mop but fully synthetic! I was pretty skeptical at first for I have tried many synthetic wash brushes before and they are just not on par with the natural hair brushes. But not this one! I honestly can’t tell the difference to natural hair in terms of water holding capacity! The fact that its bristles never break, something that all natural hair brushes constantly do, is just a nice side effect! It can be pretty annoying to get the broken bristles off the page without it leaving a dark mark behind.

Unbeknownst to me this brush manufacturer has been in my hometown since the 1950s.
To say that I was surprised to learn that would be a big understatement. Some things are just meant to be!

Contact me for availability. Available for purchase at my workshops. More information here.

 

Workshop at Daniel Smith, Seattle!

I am super happy to announce that I was invited to teach a two day workshop at the Daniel Smith store in Seattle, Washington! Dates are August 22-23, 2015. Free painting demo on Friday, August 21!
Not only that, I will also get a factory tour and finally meet the person who is behind all this and has supported me over the years!
Please follow this link for all the details:
http://seattledanielsmithevents.blogspot.com/

In case you have missed my article on pigments, here it is:
http://www.danielsmith.com/content–id-813?utm_source=Body&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Web&utm_campaign=022415FrankEber

My sincere gratitude goes out to Katherine and Joseph for their support and quick work! Thank you!

Studio set-up

P1050051  P1050050  P1050049

P1050048  P1050047  the mode of transportation

My studio and workstation are pretty straight forward: Good light, great easel, but unfortunately, not enough space on my workstation! I really need to extend the table top all across the room, so I can have multiple workstations (at least two, preferably three) and more importantly, room for all the brushes. I hate looking for a certain brush in the middle of the painting and not finding it! Putting them in jars is not working for me.

A word about the easel: I had to slightly modify it to fit my needs. It needed a wider support piece on the bottom to put the painting surface on. It kept falling off, since the manufacturer only mounted a very narrow dowel there. But it was an easy fix and I love it now! I have three different table easels, one I made myself.

My palette is by Holbein. I have a few of these and they come in different sizes with large mixing wells that have a nice, high divider to prevent overspill into the neighboring well. Most cheap palettes don’t feature that important detail. Holbein makes excellent products.

Many of my brushes are made by JAX, Da Vinci and Escoda. Escoda has the best synthetic pointy brushes that never seem to go blunt! My favorites are Prado and Barocco. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a challenge to get them in the US.

Lastly, my painting surface is a plastic sheet that I buy at Home Depot. It’s called ‘Coroplast’ and works really well. The other solution I recommend is driving around your neighborhood and stealing those signs that endorse politicians or certain parties in people’s front yards. They are made of the same material! ~~~ I am kidding, of course!

The first picture is just my ‘office’ with my computer and printer

 

 

 

Happiness is 25 sheets of new paper!

Siblings, 10by11 webP1040545

Just arrived in the mail! I am very honored to get this wonderful paper. Thank you so much, Ed!  The washes stay open for a while, which is something I really need for my work. I remember at the Pasadena Expo a few years ago, I heard: ‘no one’s using rough paper, you’re the only one! Everyone wants cold press!’  That’s ok, it works for me, that’s all that matters!

Those of you who visit my blog know that I love painting horses! This is a small
sketch painted using the three primary colors.  This painting is a value painting, there’s no color to speak of, yet it works! That shows us that if we get the values
right, we have a successful painting regardless of color. Color is important, but it
is of less importance than value!

Adventures in plein air painting Part III

Jacobsplatz, 2012 by frankeber       painting in Avignon

Last post dealt with comments from passers-by when painting on location. It seemed well received as I got a lot of hits and very nice comments. Thank you, Everyone!

This time around, I’d like to share a bit of the process i.e. equipment, set-up, etc. I use while painting outside. I have changed things over the years and I am still not completely happy with it, but it works well and is very light-weight. It is absolutely imperative to keep the weight down! At the same time, it is the hardest thing to do!

We do need water, we have to bring the whole palette, the paper, the brushes and the painting surface. I built a portfolio out of two pieces of coroplast I bought at the home depot (total price: $10). Not only is it a portfolio to store the paper, it also serves as the painting surface at the same time. No need to bring a third piece, like a gater board or foam board (it’s all bulk you have to lug around) I just duct taped them together and attached a sling for easy carrying. Very light!
Once I am ready to paint, I tape the paper right on top, clip the whole portfolio to the easel and, voilá, it is now a painting surface!

         

My biggest gripe is that you cannot find an easel with a drawer that pulls out on the side as oppose to the front where it prevents you from getting close to your work. I am currently having an easel built to solve this problem once and for all! There is one out there, it’s called the Joe Miller field easel which comes close. But I have heard there are problems with the legs and it still does not completely resolve the second thing that really bugs me about all the field easels out there:

There is no way you can put your water and palette on the side drawers without having access issues once you pull up your painting surface at an angle. I don’t know if I am explaining this well but you basically have to look around ( the corner)/ your work everytime you pick up pigment or water with your brush. The only way to solve this is to have a drawer that not only pulls out to the side (first) but also to the front (second). Kind of like a drawer with a pull-out flat surface at an angle. That way it’s basically next to you as oppose to hidden behind the painting surface!

Like I said, the biggest issue is weight so it has to have aluminum legs! Most prochade painting boxes are way too heavy and cumbersome!

    

While painting in Europe the entire last month, I discovered that the duffel bag has to go as well! After a few kilometers of Euro streets,walking here and there, up and down and around, it started hurting my shoulder quite a bit. And I thought my set-up is light… well, it is but not light enough! I’d say it has to be less than 20 lbs total – meaning paint tubes, water, brushes, everything!
15 lbs would be ideal and like a backpack on your back. That way you have your hands free to snap pictures while looking around.

Painting size for plein air is usually 1/4 sheet or less. Half sheet works, but is tricky since light condition change quickly and drying time can create a lot of problems when working larger sizes. My goal is to finish in an hour, or hour and a half the most. The light won’t change too much during that timeframe and it is possible to capture the atmosphere of the place.

I’ll let you know once my easel is done