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.
Today I thought I will post about color. Using color in a painting is a very powerful way to make a statement, but it’s complex nature makes it hard to understand. Color, like value, only makes sense in context. A color by itself has no meaning. Now, there is this concept that all colors are inherently warm or cool but that only makes sense if we compare it to other colors of the color spectrum. Let’s say you’re only looking at cadmium yellow, cadmium orange and cadmium red. Which one is warmer? You see where I am getting at? If we compare it to Cobalt Blue, then those colors are much warmer.
Many painters rely on formulas, mixes they fall back on no matter what is being painted. While I agree that certain colors are used more than others (simply because they do mix well with others), using general formulas for every painting is not going to work if we are truly painting what’s in front of us. (Just to be clear, I am talking about the experience of painting from life here.)
Here’s why: Predetermined color schemes do not produce an authentic version of the harmony in a subject matter. You cannot predict the colors that will be needed in a painting. Your own perception is going to dictate what you will use. How will you know what you will be seeing before you see it?
Understanding the phenomenon of color temperature is key to painting well. Colors do appear either warmer or cooler than their adjacent colors (!) The temperature of any color changes when we lighten or darken it, when the adjacent color changes, or when another color is being mixed into it. As if that’s not enough, colors change when the light on them changes. I remember when I was maybe 10 years old and tried to paint the hair of a blond woman, painting an acrylic portrait. I tried and tried but I just didn’t get it right. What I neglected to see was that she was standing under and next to green palm trees. Her hair picked up the green sheen of the palm trees! Of course it would! It was very subtle, but I didn’t see it because I didn’t look right! Her hair, the way I painted it, looked out of place!
How could you ever paint this correctly if you come into the painting with a predetermined color mix for blond hair?
Only by painting many paintings will we learn about subtleties like this. There just isn’t a good substitute for the real thing. Go out and do it. Paint from life!
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!
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!
Just back from a workshop and demo gig at the headquarters of this great company!
DS make high quality pigments and were the first to develop Quinacridones, now copied by just about every pigment manufacturer out there. They were also the first to come up with the dot card idea. It was only a small step to develop dot cards for individual artists as we see them today. Dot cards are being copied now as well.
I am happy to say I was the first artist who had his own dot card back in 2011. Since every artists palette changes over time, I have a brand new card now with about five or six new colors.
I make the card available to workshop participants only as it doesn’t make much logistic sense to send it out. I don’t want to charge for it and I don’t want to incur shipping charges either. If you’re curious about DS colors in general, they sell a dot card with a good color selection for five bucks here: http://www.danielsmith.com/Item–i-001-900-501-LIST
I am very grateful to be a featured DS artist and my heartfelt thanks goes to Katherine and John, as well as Joe, Thom and everyone else at the store who took care of me last weekend!
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/