Tag Archives: watercolor easel

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.

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

 

 

 

Plein air in Austin, Texas

I was teaching a workshop last week at the wonderful Waterloo Watercolor group in Austin, TX. After the workshop was done at the end of the week, I was lucky enough to have had the chance to paint in this great city.
I was joined by a few artist colleges and we headed out to paint scenes by the lake and downtown. Naturally, after the weather was sunny all week the day we went outside turned out to be a bit dull and drab. Earlier in the morning the light was much better and  my scene with a rower and downtown Austin in the background turned out pretty nice.

Austin is a great city and everyone at the WWC group did their best to make me feel welcome. I’d like to especially thank Michele  and Marshal Missner, Eileen Pestorius, Kim and Gerry Hoerster, Anne and Barbara and Chuck Wallace for taking care of me in the best possible way. You all rock!

Austin lake, plein air by frankeber 2013

Austin lake, plein air by frankeber 2013

Austin plein air, Victorian by frankeber 2013

Austin plein air, Victorian by frankeber 2013

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