Monday, June 8, 2009

Palletteers' Plein Air Gear

I've been asked what gear the Palletteers use when we go painting. As the pictures below will show, our gear is as varied as we are. Many of us have had "on the job training," learning from the veteran Palletteer painters. Some of us have done extensive research online (For me, has been extremely helpful!) Some of us have adapted things we've learned from attending workshops.
Below is my present set-up for doing plein air. I have a half-french easel in which I store my oil paint tubes, two side trays, a paper pallette, an Art Comber (from Jerry's that has large wheels to go over any terrain easily,sets up 18” off the ground, and has a waterproof bag that I can put my easel and trays into), and a backpack in which I carry my liquids, pallette, apron, paper towels, brushes and drawing materials. When I paint, I use the pull out drawer to hold my medium (in a baby food or mushroom jar) and mineral spirits (in a Creative Mark brush washer which has a very tight sealing lid, essential for an medium.), plastic gloves and plastic shopping bags for trash. The pale blue box below the canvas is an old wet wipe box and instead of wet wipes, I cut my paper towels to fit and put them in that, weighted by a nice piece of coral. Leaning up against the tree you can see my wooden wet canvas carrier that could carry two wet stretched canvases and has protected me from getting more paint on me when I am transporting my artwork from the field. It has a nice leather handle on one end and is really lightweight.
Before I got the half french easel, I used a regular french easel, a french mistress (wood box with two wings that fold out from jerry's) to hold my paints, a paper palette, and a luggage carrier to wheel it all around (using bungee cards to hold everything onto the cart). I had a huge insulated picnic type bag in which I carried my liquids, apron, and everything else. I decided to go smaller with the easel because it was lighter and luckily, I could fit everything else into the backpack that came with it AND do without the extra weight of the french mistress.
Emy paints in water based oils and uses a full french easel. She carries her paint tubes in the easel and uses the drawer for her liquids and a plastic plate as her pallette.
A visiting artist who conducted an oil paintiing workshop used a small pochade box on a tripod as his easel. The inside of his box lid had a mount for his wood panels. He used a limited pallette of colors and used the bottom of his pochade box for his paint mixing. You can see his brush washer/container for his mineral spirits hanging from the side of his easel.. it's the same as mine because after seeing his and how handy it was, I wanted one too. A lot of plein air painters use the pochade box set-up because they are more compact. I think you can get them big enough to hold a 12 X 16 panel.
Brenda really loves her Anderson metal easel. Here it is set up for oil painting with her wood pallette. Below is a better photo of Brenda's easel when she was painting with watercolors. The easel itself can be rotated and the box attached to it opens so you have a tray on which to put your pallette, brushes, water, and rags. The only problem encountered with this easel is that it's low so not easy to use if you stand when you paint.
Alexis uses a Sun Eden easel for her watercolors ( The metal easel attaches to a tripod and I think they have different set-ups depending on whether you are an oil painter or watercolorist. You can either purchase the whole set up from them as a package deal or order items separately, which is especially good if you already have your own tripod. One of the items they sell is a tray which slides onto the front legs and has braces that slide in lower down so the tray stays perpendicular to the ground. They also sell side boxes that attach to the tray. Since Alexis travels alot giving workshops, she wanted an easel that was lightweight and easy to carry. This one folds into a bag.
Melissa is one of our acrylic painters. She uses her ArtComber to transport her gear and uses a metal easel.
Alma also paints in acrylics. She has a wooden table easel and carries a folding table and stool so that she literally has her own traveling studio.
When we paint where tables and chairs are available for us to use, our load might lighten alot.
Most of our watercolor painters carry their own table and chair so they can set up anywhere.
Sometimes a chair becomes a table..
We always manage to be comfortable, wherever we are. We also attract onlookers and visitors..
Some of the artists use lap boards of varying sizes, perfect for clipping or taping a piece of watercolor paper onto, laying on one's lap, and leaning on.
We can set up anywhere...
Sometimes we just use what's available, as in the box below which doubled as a carrying box until Elizabeth found a rolling bag.
What ever we use, where ever we are, it's a given: we're having a great time painting! Don't be afraid to join us!


Anonymous said...

Good think to do

Melissa Evangeline Keyes said...

Haha! Whatta scream, our thrashing around trying to find the ""perfect"" gear for our plein air painting.

I change mine nearly every week. But, actually, I like lap painting with only my little red bag full of all of it, and a fold up chair the best. Easels blow away! Whoosh! Yet, I might add a big umbrella. Ooo, our tropical rain showers!

Comfort, simplicity and Ease rule.
What did Monet use??

Good post, Ginger!

andersontg said...

Thanks for your comments. I've wanted to do this post for a long time because I've learned that people who might like to join us are often daunted because they have no idea how to paint "on the go." I posted lots of examples of people's setups so that newbies could get the idea that there is no one "correct" setup, and the code to go by is "whatever works for you". Hopefully, they can look at this entry, get an idea of what they'd like to have, and take it from there. I've carried a golf umbrella in my car for two years, have used it twice, and the second time I got drenched anyway because the rain was a driving one.