Mobile methodologies

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Dear Artist,

Mobile easels include everything that goes by land, sea or air. My friend Toni Onley used to paint from the cockpit of his amphibian Lake Buccaneer. Floating studios permit the marvel of drifting — silent, Zen-like contemplation and rendering along waterways. There’s nothing like a rowboat or canoe — tethered or not. A small custom unit can be made to fit a kayak — the “Keasel” — where water-based brush swizzling is a piece of cake. A few years ago I built an “Art-Dog,” a mobile paintbox I towed behind my bike. I actually patented the unit but no one was interested. If you want to paint using a trail bike, set the kickstand and paint facing backwards.

All Terrain Vehicle as mobile studio. In the deep bush, getting off the ground is useful--with ticks, ants, and other pestilence in evidence.

All Terrain Vehicle as mobile studio. In the deep bush, getting off the ground is useful — with ticks, ants, and other pestilence in evidence.

There’s nothing wrong with the family car. The back seat is the cocoon of choice on rainy days — on sunny ones you might try standing up in the moonroof with the paintbox and other stuff in front of you on the roof. Make sure you’ve come to a stop if you decide to paint behind the wheel. Small hooks or screw eyes in the back of the canvas permit bungeeing to a nicely angled steering wheel. Ultimate comfort comes with a motorhome, where setting up at the picture window can give a new view every day.

For really remote, nearly inaccessible terrain, nothing beats a quad. ATVs improve bush travel and open up areas previously only suitable for hiking. A stable painting platform when you arrive, the only downside is the racket they make in getting there. I’ve noticed when other people drive them in the wilderness the racket bothers me more than when I’m making it. Yesterday, in western Ontario, I drove 75km to a precious place that would have taken several days to hike into. There were six of us quadders in the party, so if any tree-huggers got exercised I had help in fighting them. As it was we saw no one but a solitary moose, and he seemed blasé to our passage. The paintbox was bungeed to the carrier rack and I faced rearwards to paint.

Mobile workstations are only limited by an artist’s imagination or inclination. Odd-ball transport gives unique material, new perspectives, as well as adding oft-needed variety and opportunity. Apart from that, they add even more fun to an already fun job.

Monet Painting in His Floating Studio oil painting by Édouard Manet (1874)

“Monet Painting in His Floating Studio”
1874 oil painting by Édouard Manet

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “Today I drifted [in the floating studio]with Camille on the Seine at Argenteuil. The views materialized and dissolved and I was as contented as a cow in her stall.” (Claude Monet, 1874)

Esoterica: The basic mobile unit is the paintbox. Some artists prefer comprehensive ones with everything but the kitchen sink. I take a Spartan approach. I’ve done a lot of backpacking where lightness counts and where a cigar box with a few basic colours and sawed-off brushes works just fine. You may be a little embarrassed about it, but you’ll really get off on a certain smug feeling you get when you arrive at a remote location, open your tiny office, squeeze out and produce something of value.

 

Mobile methodologies

The Art-Dog goes anywhere you can go with your bike.

The Art-Dog goes anywhere you can go with your bike.

The rear rack on the ATV makes an excellent platform.

The rear rack on the ATV makes an excellent platform.

ATV's get you through areas you might not otherwise go.

ATV’s get you through areas you might not otherwise go.

Sara Genn and the Keasel. The kayak itself is a work of art.

Sara Genn and the Keasel. The kayak itself is a work of art.

 

 

 

 

 

Magic of off-road biking
by Jan Thomson, St. Arnaud, Nelson Lakes, New Zealand

 

Jan Thomson and her MAC.

Jan Thomson and her MAC

My husband and I travel around New Zealand on our 1953 Velocette MAC, and I always have my watercolour kit with me. MAC makes a great backrest/shade and I paint there happily while Rob wanders off for a walk or makes lunch. On our old bike we can get to places which are inaccessible by car, and the magic of being able to paint this way is wonderful.

 

Adapting chairs for painting
by Cheryl Lobenberg, Sacramento, CA, USA

 

How one of David's students adapted his lawn chair to meet his artistic needs.

How one of David’s students adapted his lawn chair to meet his artistic needs.

I teach an eight weekend plein air sketch/ watercolor class. On the first Sunday of the class we were onsite sketching and water-coloring en plein air. I had suggested the day before that each student should bring a comfortable chair to work from. I told them that their chairs could range from specifically manufacture field art chairs to “soccer mom” chairs and even collapsible patio/beach chairs. The class was very amused when one of their fellow students set up a lawn chair that allows you to sit upright or fully prone position for napping! We all laughed until we saw how he worked the chair! And how did he keep the sketch pad from sliding down the back rest? He simply used two twigs positioned between the plastic batting for the bottom of the pad to rest on! The third weekend of class, he found a hook lying on the ground and now uses that to hang his sketch.

 

Emergency painting bag
by Nancy Bea Miller, Philadelphia, PA, USA

 

Rose and Starlight Mint oil painting 10 x 8 inches by Nancy Bea Miller

“Rose and Starlight Mint”
oil painting 10 x 8 inches
by Nancy Bea Miller

In the back of my station wagon I keep a complete set of paints, brushes, small bottles of turps, small pieces of canvas taped to foam core, rolled-up hat, rags, and a three-legged folding stool. When watching my sons at the pool or soccer game or playground I will often unobtrusively set up my stuff and paint! I have my palette in my lap, holding the canvas on my knees in my left hand, and have my turps and brushes on the ground at my right. My little arrangement is so quick to set up and so unassuming in nature that most of the time people don’t even notice what I am doing until I’m breaking it down. It can also be used in the front seat of the car for even more privacy or in a friend’s backyard during a visit. I call it my emergency painting bag!

 

Birds-eye view
by Helen Opie, Granville Ferry, NS, Canada

 

Bog Pond original painting by Helen Opie

“Bog Pond”
original painting by Helen Opie

I used to paint from the roof of my car. I sit cross-legged or with legs outstretched, with my paint box on my lap or in front of me or beside me. I have managed canvases of 24×36 inches on my lap. I like the moderate degree of isolation of being up on my car roof; people can still watch, and often ask questions. At the same time, they cannot trip over my easel, bump my arm, or touch to see if the paint is still wet. Their questions are opportunities to demystify art. If people make stupid comments before asking me what I’m doing, they get stupid replies; I am teaching ants to read, or sewing buttons on ice cream. I also remember that these people just might be future buyers and I don’t want to drive them away. That would be counter-productive!

 

Seasel
by Phil Chadwick, Southampton, ON, Canada

 

The Seasel

The Seasel

Occasionally, I use my “Seasel.” It is actually my wife’s car but with a drop sheet. Artists seem to be predisposed to make their own traveling gear rather than to buy commercially made products. I can travel with all my art supplies and be on the road for weeks. I typically have two or more art boxes in the Subaru Forester (the “S” of Seasel). The width of each box is designed for standard sized stretched canvases. Each box holds up to 12 very wet paintings. By the time the box is full, the first painting “in” is ready to be “out” and stacked.

 

Negative impact of ATVs
by Hap Hagood, Clover, VA, USA

 

Spirit Thunder Colorado yule marble 11 x 12 x 8 inches by Hap Hagood

“Spirit Thunder”
Colorado yule marble
11 x 12 x 8 inches
by Hap Hagood

Knowing how much you love the natural world, I’m very much surprised at your suggesting the use of ATVs as improving bush travel. ATVs have serious, negative impacts on wetlands, riparian ecosystems, and native plant and animal species. They create air, water and noise pollution, all of which drastically affect wildlife and they actually devastate many of the natural resources that need protecting the most.

Hiking trails in the wilds should never be replaced by the rutted roads produced by ATVS.

 


 

Hard-to-get-at place
by Sandra Donohue, Robson, BC, Canada

 

Near the Creek by Sandra Donohue

Near the Creek by Sandra Donohue

I really enjoyed the letter about mobile easels and painting in hard-to-get-at places. I put my small set of watercolours, a brush and small watercolour book in a little plastic box and swam out to a rock that was just barely above the water. It was lots of fun!

 

Back seat drivers
by John Ferrie, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

Fallen Angel I acrylic painting 48x48 by John Ferrie

“Fallen Angel I”
acrylic painting 48×48 inches
by John Ferrie

Sage advice! My experience with painting in public is about the same as getting lost and playing Solitaire. They say if you are lost in the woods, bring out a deck of cards and start playing Solitaire. Someone will inevitable come along and tell you to put up a card. The same is true with painting outdoors. No matter where you are, people will gather and come just a little too close and ask all sorts of dumb questions. While I love what I do, painting is really just a procedure of squeezing out paint and smearing it on a canvas. Oh, we have all sorts of tricks and details we add here and there to make it our own. But the piece really only comes together in the last quarter. I, personally, don’t like being watched when I work and would rather not show people my paintings until they are finished. I suspect I could pull out a canvas in Antarctica and someone would come along and say “hmm, interesting, why did you use orange there?” Usually it is because I have run out of blue.

 

Angles of opportunity
by Ronit Judelman, Johannesburg, South Africa

 

Nothing stands in the way of art making! I crawled into my university lecture and lay on the floor with excruciating back pain (I was not going to miss the lecture for anything) lamenting that I would not be able to stand and paint for a long while. My teacher calmly smiled and said, “I wonder what your painting would look like if you painted what you see from that angle” — a great teacher indeed!

 

Portfolio presentation
by Kim Van Riper, Tempe, AZ, USA

 

I have several publications to date of wildlife pen and ink drawings for various biological analysis books, but I have never displayed my paintings at a gallery. I have applied several times for exhibition, but have been turned down. I am writing to ask your advice on portfolio arrangements which will present me as a proper artist, as well as resume qualities that gallery owners see as beneficial. I know that you have wide representation, as far as galleries go, and I understand that relationships must be built.

(RG note) Thanks, Kim. It’s been my experience that nothing beats really excellent work, no matter how it’s presented. Some dealers even like to work with unprepared artists, provided they are nuts about producing. Having said that, the accepted angle nowadays is to have a simple, straightforward website with no baloney in it. Even better is a premium listing right here on Painter’s Keys. Drop off your card to dealers and agents who you feel might be appropriate for your work. Use our site as part of your contact right on your card. A premium link gives just enough information for them to ask you to come in for a closer look. Dealers these days are busy folks and often leave unlooked-at slides in drawers for months, and don’t always return them. The Internet is the new connector, and it’s my experience that while dealers may say they’re not taking on new artists, they are always secretly open to talent that will make things easier for them.

 

Past our prime?
by Catherine Stock, France

 

Pigeonnier in Rocamadour valley watercolour painting by Catherine Stock

“Pigeonnier in Rocamadour valley”
watercolour by Catherine Stock

Two art school friends, who have done very well in theatre, were exhausted and considered going back to sculpture carving full-time. In spite of their successful creative careers, when they approached a top gallery in Cape Town, the gallery owners felt that they were too old for any serious gallery to even consider taking them on. Can it be true that artists need to be groomed and presented to the public by astute and canny galleries, and that if we wait too long doing other things, we just miss the boat?

(RG note) Thanks, Catherine. If any dealer said that to me, I’d tell them that I’d rather have a younger dealer. As a matter of fact, I work best with my younger dealers. Older folks, who older dealers attract, are often filled up with paintings right down to their rumpus rooms. Young dealers often have young customers, new and eager for the collecting excitement. The smart ones know that mature artists are capable of generating excitement for any age group.

 

Art PODS
by Laury Ravenstein, Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada

 

Art P.O.D.S. (Portable Open Design Studios) by Laury Ravenstein

Art P.O.D.S. (Portable Open Design Studios)

In Port Coquitlam, we have designed and built 6 Art P.O.D.S. (Portable Open Design Studios) for the artists to use to promote their work and to facilitate sales. This addition to the Leigh Square Art’s Village shows the city’s commitment to providing opportunities for artistic growth. The city charges no fees for the weekly rental period, and only a 15% commission on sales.

The Art PODS have wheels and folding panels that can open up to create a large display area, as well as an extension table to create a work space. The Art PODS all have shelves, drawers, table easels, storage areas and they come with a fold-out chair. When closed up they are 2′ by 4′ and when open, they cover 6′ by 16′.

The gardens and waterfalls around the Leigh Square and City Hall are perfect places to spend an afternoon painting. (Starbucks is right there for the ultimate pick-me-up) In poor weather, there are indoor areas to work. The public loves to “see” the artists at work and this gives us a chance to stimulate interest in our art. This enables city-dwelling artists to work inside and out, (all year long,) and to get out into the world, while still working in “their studio.”

 

World of Art Featured artist James Johnston, OR, USA  

'Sitting At The Fountain by James Johnston, OR, USA

Sitting At The Fountain

acrylic painting 18 x 24 inches
by James Johnston, OR, USA

 

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Ted Invictus of Grand Forks, BC, Canada who wrote, “I feel compelled to remind you of the permanent damage your ATV does to the environment and the pain it causes my soul.”

And also Valerie Norberry who wrote, “I think the hardest part about painting is sitting still. One really needs to get up and stretch, how does a person do that in a kayak? What is the record of the longest painting in a kayak?”

And also Gayla Moss who wrote, “I plan on packing some art supplies for my new job so that on lunch breaks or during down time I am ready to be creative!”

And also Christine Ritchie who wrote, “Making the ego and all the materialism that it loves take a back seat to allow our creative nature a chance at the limelight is perhaps our present culture’s greatest challenge.”

And also >Bill McCaffrey of FL, USA who wrote, “You can tell Floridian plein air painters by the way they scurry from shade to shade. Out in the Everglades, we don’t have too much trouble with the moose but we do have to keep an eye out for the occasional gator or cotton mouth.”

And also Frances Topping of Charlestown, RI, USA who wrote, “I am not in favor of encouraging people to get ATVs for any reason – gas, destruction of environment, noise pollution, etc. I agree it makes previously inaccessible areas accessible but at a price.”

And also Kit Miracle of Jasper, IN, USA who wrote, “I paint from the back of my bicycle. My biking and art has taken me all over and I have even won a grant from my state arts council to record my county in paintings.”

 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Mobile methodologies

 

 

From: Louwtjie Kotzé — Jun 23, 2008

Now you’re speaking to my heart! We travel extensively throughout South Africa, towing a caravan. One of the best sceneries I had from our caravan window, was the sea on both sides in Buffalo Bay, near Knysna, where the caravan park is on a piece of land jutting into the sea.

From: Melissa Evangeline Keyes — Jun 24, 2008

When I’m setting up with my plein air group, they seem very busy. Fussing with their gear and chatting. I set up, glancing at the scene before me, and thinking how I will paint it. Then when I’m ready to paint, I still just gaze at the depths and layers of colors, and shadow, imagining how to go about the craft of painting.

Perhaps I’ll ask the ladies if they’ve studied the “Be Here Now” and how to stop that little yakking voice of the Ego, so that real silence and creativity can manifest. The ladies will look at me like I’m nuts.

Perhaps I’m helped by being progressively more hard-of-hearing. Or will deafness be a blessing in disguise?

From: Barbara Loyd — Jun 24, 2008

While painting pastoral scenes “out in the country” a pickup truck is a great mobile studio. One can set up an easel in the bed and/or a small folding table to hold supplies. A folding chair is handy too. That way, the “subject” livestock were close by, but not able to nibble the supplies or the artist!

From: Nicole Hyde — Jun 24, 2008

My trusty Soltek easel is my plein air weapon of choice (light, easy, sturdy), but someday, I’d like a “Paint Mobile” like a painting friend, Walt Gonske, has. From his base in Taos, NM, he travels around in an odd-looking vehicle he’s reconfigured that allows him to paint standing up (he’s very tall) in the back of it during inclement weather. It’s got a lot of canvas storage and art supply space along with room to hold whatever a travelling artist requires. It’s quite the set-up and one day I’d love something like it.

From: Jim Norman — Jun 24, 2008

Mobility is an issue for large format photographers, as well. We’re often carrying some 30 pounds of camera, lenses, film holders and tripod. In many places, ATVs are either not permitted or are unable to function. The decisions about what to carry is most important, and never perfect. Making do with what you have is part of the process, and may even positively contribute to creativity by causing the artist to concentrate on utilizing the available tools. There’s also something wonderous about working in the environment being depicted, rather than in a studio far removed from the subject matter.

From: Veronica Funk — Jun 24, 2008

I was so excited to read this letter as I am absolutely enamored of my pochade, so much so that I posted a picture of it on my blog on June 12. I call it my studio in a box. Not only can you venture out anywhere in nature with it, but it also works wonderfully in local cafes, on a local sketchcrawl (cafe, park, etc.), on the back deck, and on the kitchen table while preparing dinner for my family (though, unfortunately, at times the dinner becomes a tad charred). My family refers to it as my laptop. (By the way, love the new layout of the letter.)

From: Cassandra James — Jun 24, 2008

I’m besotted with the possibility of capturing a scene immediately with little of this other life intervening – and definitely agree with you that it must be kept simple – the work and equipment that makes it possible.

A simple palette of 3 primaries, a dark and light, a small squeeze bottle of refined linseed oil, which is the binder in most of my pigments anyway, so not adding anything new to the mix, and clean-up with Master’s soap in the little round plastic container that’s very light. No problem. It will even bring back a dried brush. And I can get through a painting without using more than two brushes most of the time – so they’re light, too.

I just bought a Soltek easel and haven’t become quite accustomed to it as I was with my French Julian – which just began to crack in critical places, so had to go.

But it comes with a backpack, which I had to modify to fit better, but is very light and easy to carry into the field – Yes, there’s something very noble about keeping it simple and doing good work. This is the advice I got from a genius musician in Austin once when preparing for a student’s wedding. ‘Keep it simple’ – such good advice for us all, too, especially when working in the field, where it’s too easy to be seduced by it all and try to capture too much.

I’m off to North Carolina for 3 weeks in another two, to paint 10 or 15 canvases. Can’t wait.

From: Karuna Johnson — Jun 24, 2008

Today my friend Gerri and I went mobile to a local riverine park. She lay on her belly on the ground to paint! I set up on the park table, which had no bench, allowing me to belly up to the table. I even took my Soleil white painter’s umbrella. So I can’t say my setup was backpack ready, and our 2 cars were just steps away. But a picnic lunch and a much needed summer day (hard to come by in the NW of late), fresh air and the beauty all around were a good combo with our watercolor regalia. More to come!

From: Leilani — Jun 24, 2008

We are snowbirds, traveling by automobile to the mountains for summer and the high desert for winter. My mobile pastel paintbox allows me to paint while my husband drives. It takes snapshot observation of what is passing by and a creative memory to compose, but the unevenness of the roads makes looser painting easy! Some real gems have come from this arrangement. Oh, the box? It is a discarded, thin, rectangular cardboard with a clam closing lid, hinged so to speak on the short side. The opened top leans against the car dashboard and fortified with a thin acrylic panel is my easel, forcing me to paint at arm’s length. The bottom of the carton holds 2 boxes of pastels – spare in quantity and one exclusively of neutrals. A cotton cloth spread at the side and front catches dust and checks my pastel choice. A packet of baby wipes is great for clean up when suddenly the time comes to stop for tea. I grew up “making do,” and still at 70 years I’m blessed to find pleasure in the wise use of small spaces, recycling discarded boxes and making art on the go.

From: Hans Mertens — Jun 26, 2008
From: Jack Dickerson — Jun 26, 2008

I seem to have this unreasonable fear of painting in public. Several of my artist friends have invited me to paint with them on the marshes, etc.. But my fear gets in my way. I suspect it is a fear of being judged, and then also of not being able to concentrate, and then also not being able to pull together pieces like I do in my studio. But I also suspect it is more complicated than that. Perhaps I also need to learn to NOT be distracted by all the detail in front of me—as in the studio I can simplify and compose without distracting detail. I guess that is an art in and of itself—all about composition. Any suggestions?

From: Janet Sellers — Jun 26, 2008

What about llamas and camelids? For walking terrain… we have lots of them in Colorado. Art backpacking without the weight on one’s own back.

From: Carol — Jun 26, 2008

Take care working in enclosed spaces. Some art materials produce vapours or fumes which could be bad for one’s health. Many years ago I heard about an artist who used felt pens in his car and eventually experienced damage to his nerves and muscles.

From: Edna — Jun 26, 2008

It sounds easy but I am haven’t tried it .

From: John Mix — Jun 26, 2008

I have enjoyed making my own paint boxes to suit my style and whimsy. Last year I bit the bullet and purchased a pastel box/easel from Open Box M for a plein air workshop with Lorenzo Chavez in Taos, NM. 400 buckaroos made my checkbook wince but its been the real deal on the land. Instead of using it only for pastel, I made two box inserts–one is glass-bottom lined for an oil palette, the second is committed to my pastel array. Easily switchable, I can follow the need of the moment, weather, or whatever.

From: Valerie Kent — Jun 26, 2008

You cannot imagine how excited I am to be going to a mobile studio on July 16th – on the River Baroness, a rivership cruising on the Seine with my small group of fellow art travellers. We will be painting from Paris through Normandy while floating from one paintable view to the next. We will visit Claude Monet’s paradise at Giverny (and his blue and white kitchen is the cat’s meow). I did this trip last year and it was unforgettable. Included is a visit to Van Gogh’s Auvers Sur Oise. This had to be my favourite place ever. I had a lump in my throat as I recognized painting after painting since the town has not changed at all. As I stood in the corn field with the crows wheeling about I thought of Van Gogh’s pain and the last day of his life. A short time later I visited his grave, and that of his brother Theo beside him, and recognized that poignant moment and what I felt would be with me forever.

From: Susan Warner — Jun 26, 2008

I love your letters and enjoy reading the comments as well! Of note regarding this subject is that Georgia O’Keeffe, one of my favorite Painters, used her car as a Mobile Studio in Taos, N.M. in the early 1930’s. She had a Model-A Ford, which she purchased as a statement of independence and against the wishes of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz the Photographer. I believe she removed part of the seat and worked inside to keep out of the Sun.

I have not traveled as extensively as some of your writers but have always enjoyed drawing and painting ‘on site’ as well as taking supportive photos to use as reference. The immediate intensity of Color is a unique part of the experience!

My husband is a Nature Photographer and we have often spent the day outside together, pursuing our own views of Nature in our individual ways, Camera and Brush.

From: Geraldine O’Riordan — Jun 26, 2008

I live in Cork, Ireland. As most people know over here we get four seasons in one day, so it is necessary to travel light. I have a medium sized van and very often I am confined to this for my outdoor work. One of my tips for cropping my compositions is to create a frame on the window with masking tape. I find this helps me to concentrate on the area I wish to paint. I’m never pleased with my work on the day but when I put them away and take them out again weeks later I find them much more exciting and atmospheric. Never throw away al fresco paintings or sketches! They will be the cherished mementos in time to come!

From: Margi Hennen — Jun 26, 2008

As a longtime admirer of yours, I was disappointed to read that you drive an ATV. I understand that it will take you where you might not otherwise be able to go – maybe we weren’t meant to go there? In NS we are currently going through a heated exchange with government re these vehicles and, among other things, what they do to the environment, habitat and the sounds of the forest.

From: Arial Perspective — Jun 26, 2008

Jack, what you’re afraid of is real! For some of us, painting in the open air, there is just too much information flying at us, something we can control in the studio, but on location it can really freak us out!

I’ve experienced the same problems you mention and after I don’t know how many years, I’m finally making progress. First, I plug in my iPod and listen to Joshua Bell and his violin. Second, I take lots of time to focus on a scene. I do thumbnails, maybe a value study (breathe a lot) and really get acquainted with what I want to paint. I usually do an underpainting in watercolor, then I begin to relax and enjoy the process. By the time the watercolor has dried, I’m feeling comfortable with the scene and ready apply pastel. Sometimes I do an oil painting. Sometimes it doesn’t work and I scrape it off and start over.

It really takes a lot of patience, practice, and forcing yourself to focus. I nearly gave it up many times, but in the past year, I’m finally getting it. One thing I do understand about myself is that one painting takes just about all my energy. Two would do me in. Some of my artist buddies can pump out several paintings in a plein air session. I’ve long ago given up competing with them.

From: Rose-Marie Burke — Jun 27, 2008

Running an ATV through the peaceful wilderness and swizzling a brush laden with cadmiums and other chemicals into the pristine waters from the side of a kayak. Somehow a dark shadow has just passed over the beautiful image of nature.

From: Lyn Cherry — Jun 27, 2008

I use my personal mobility vehicle or my painting friend pushes my wheelchair as far as she is able to access areas that obviously can’t be too far from the roadway. But I won’t let being partially disabled and on oxygen keep me from getting outdoors once in a while to paint. And it is partly your letters that inspire me to do that. As I wrote to you a couple of years ago, “Thanks for being a pane in my window on the world!” Since that time, my world has widened. Thank you, Robert! Also, I have forced myself out of my comfort zone and painted in a surreal style, a far cry from my usual work. Mostly due to you and the letters from your readers.

From: Lee Doherty — Jun 27, 2008

We live with our feet in two worlds: 25 miles from Washington, DC and all its museums, yet surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of acres of woodland (much of it state property) and wetlands with a creek and a run flanking our property lines. When I began plein air painting a few years ago, I used a hand-me-down backpack, an aluminum easel, and a bungeed cardboard shirt box with foam-board spacers to carry wet canvases. It all weighs 7 pounds including paint, palette, turps and a few brushes. Later, I bought a Julian easel/paint-box and used it a few times. I found it heavier, clunky and noisy, and went back to my jury-rigged beginner set-up. At age 60, I doubt I’ll live long enough to paint every bend in the creek and the banks of the run in all seasons. Granted, it’s not the wilds of Canada or a remote area. When the creek floods, some trash washes through from the surrounding suburbs. Still, it’s great good fortune that I can walk out the back door, across the field, and be set up in the woods, ready to paint within 30 minutes. I’ve never seen or heard a human soul. There are plenty of conversations with curious deer and talkative owls. I get through the pathless tight spots and go where my neighbor on his noisy ATV cannot! The only real inconvenience is trying to schedule safe time during hunting seasons, when those with a different reason to be in the woods come out.

From: Ron Unruh — Jul 02, 2008
From: Steve Moore — Jul 07, 2008
From: valerie norberry vanorden — Aug 29, 2013

I keep a couple of cosmetic bags full of art supplies in my vehicle. I have watercolor pans, watercolor pencils, spray bottles, paper, pencils, sharpeners, etc. The cosmetic bags are about 8″ deep, enough for a half-sheet of paper. Then when the mood grips me, I am ready. I often take my “sketching bag” into restaurants with me to sketch until the meal arrives. The cosmetic bags are waterproof, have zippers and handles, and retail about 9.00 new.

 

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