Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gear Junkie

I have a problem. It's not a BAD problem and I would guess it's likely a common problem with other artists. I'm a Gear Junkie.

People may think that artists don't really have 'gear.' It's all brushes and paints or pencils and paper. Oh no.

Specifically I realize I am on the quest for the perfect Plein Air painting equipment. It's becoming an obsession. I started years and years ago with a full size, Julian French Easel. It is classic. It is great, it holds everything. It is on the heavy side... but, in the French defense, it HOLDS EVERYTHING. No need to carry additional bags full of paints, brushes, knives, view finders, wrenches... you name it. It fits. So yeah, she's heavy.

Next came the Half French. I went on a 10 day painting trip to France back in 2001 and wanted something simpler to pack. I bought the 'Halfy.'  All the same benefits of the full French, just narrower and a little lighter. It did the trick.

Over the years as I painted more and more, I wanted something more nimble. I bought a 6x8 Guerilla Pochade by Judson. It's so cute! It's really small. Really light. Very packable. You do have to bring an additional bag with all your necessary gear, but I did, and do! still love that you can put it ALL in a standard backpack, tripod too! I've only painted on 6x8 or 8x10 on this pochade, but I like painting small sometimes.

I liked my little Guerilla so much that I thought I'd get a bigger version. (You see a pattern developing by now...)  I bought the medium French Resistance. It's still light. The paint mixing area is bigger, which I really liked. (About 6x9 I think. I should measure.)  There is a divider on the palette that separates the paint mixing area with a small area for maybe a tube of paint or whatever, otherwise the mixing area would be even bigger - which I'm needing these days.

So, in this time of need. "NEED!" I went bigger. I've been Plein Air painting a lot lately. Really consistent and am therefore more aware of what's working and what's frustrating. I've gone back to my full French Julian. The Guerilla FR was wobbling a bit and I was wanting more stability. I think it is a Tripod issue but haven't investigated.

I had a slightly damaged wood box in my studio that I bent in half. Basically I bent the hinges until the lid separated from the base. I then put a piece of glass from a photo frame I had in the house into the base of the box and duct taped all the edges. Yes. I built my own traveling glass palette with wood and duct tape! and you know what? it is AWESOME.

Of course this got me thinking a real glass palette would be great. I discovered online this thing called a French Companion. It is like a thin wooden suitcase that you can open to lay flat across the open drawer of your French Easel. Brilliant! I saw some envious photos of artsits with their Companion on their easel, and thought I should have that.

My Richeson French Companion arrived.

Stay tuned...
because there is more gear. A lot more.

For now though, here's a shot I took in Monterey in February of the gear of the day:

Full French Julian easel (inside are palette knives, scraper, view finder and white oil paint.)
A homemade glass palette (a wood box bottom, glass from a picture frame and duct tape!)
A wet panel carrier made for me by my friend Chuck Norris (yes, that's his real name)
A Timbuk2 Messenger bag that holds: water bottle, turp in a spill proof can, paper towels, sunscreen, brushes, gloves, scarf, bag for garbage and some large strong clips.
Also inside the bag is my FineArtTech paint palette, which I bought over Christmas and am really enjoying!