Saturday, May 26, 2018

Change your French Easel to a perfect Watercolor Easel DIY





I have always eyed Jospeh Zbukvic's easel with envy. I love how it opens up and allows him to use the drawer as a shelf to place his brushes and palette on it.

I have this old french easel which I don't like because it places the open drawer between me and the painting. For me to get close to the paper, I have to strain my back and lean over the drawer. Not a good idea. The same is true for pochade boxes. The box opens with the paper far away from me and the tray right in the middle of things. Again not a good design for watercolors.

Here is my fix for the French Easel. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT





Finally I am just about ready to announce something big. Something really really big and that will hopefully involve you and me painting together!!!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Watercolors? Make it a large Palette.

For oil painters, the idea of limited palettes is well ingrained. All you need is a warm and cool of each of the primaries and a white and you are basically good to go. This is something artists who start out in oils tend to want to migrate with them to watercolors. You wouldn't think of it for pastels of course, but somehow watercolors are seen as closer to oils in a manner.



That is not exactly true. As a matter of fact there is more in common between pastels and oil paints than with oil paints and watercolors. Mostly pastels and oil paints are used in opaque applications, while watercolors are transparent.



That is the key. It is well known that the more you mix colors, the less vibrant and more muddy they become. In the case of transparent watercolors, I prefer no mixing on the palette at all. If any mixing needs to happen, it is better for that to happen on the paper so that their vibrancy remains intact. That is why I have an embarrassingly large color collection on my palette. I admit that I rarely use more than a few at a time, but I like to have them there ready for use any time I needed them.



The less one mixes watercolors the more these colors reward you in the end. I understand that many of the colors on my palette are not single pigment colors. Some are mixes in their own right, but a color-man's mixture in the milling or composing process is very different from an artist's mixture. One is calibrated and ends up in a consistent product, the other is done in the heat of the painting process.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pochade 5th Anniversary - (Still as solid as a tank!)

After many tests and planning I built my pochade box five years ago and made the plans available online for everyone who wants to build one. Many people have bought the detailed step by step plans. They are just $2.99. I would love to hear from them through this post and hopefully receive photos that I can share as well. It would really be wonderful.



I never regretted building my own pochade as opposed to buying one. The cost was one big factor at the beginning. It cost me less than $100 to build mine. Actually much less. But that was not all. I initially built my pochade to withstand a lot of abuse. I noticed that the ones commercially available were too dainty and I needed something that can handle being outdoors regularly not just on occasion. Over the years my pochade has survived countless accidents including falling off the top of the SUV while I drove away, being dropped down a steep hill and tumbling into a stream. You name it it has survived it. I won't even mention all the small  falls, the bangs and tripod drops that I know the more dainty ones would not survive.



The best part is that I feel it is getting stronger every year! The caking of paints and dried oil in cervices has served to make it even more solid. It also gave it an air of experience. It has been in many battles and just keeps getting better by the day.



What is your pochade like? If you built one based on my plans, please share and send me photos to add to this post if you can.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Narrative In Design - A pastel by Clarence Gagnon


Lucille Rodier Gagnon, Olive and Edna Pretty at Sainte-Pétronille, Île d’Orléans / Clarence Gagnon - 1919

This deceptively simple pastel by Clarence Gagnon is a study in design and composition. The design is not simple or formulaic or done for aesthetics alone as we will see. It impacts directly on the subject of the painting in a way that builds a narrative that can only be told through this design.

At first glance the pastel is a simple image of three ladies sitting on a fence at the edge of a river. The scenery is de-emphasized in favor of the three figures that are painted in higher chroma (brighter), and harmonious colors that make them stand out from the rest of the painting. But is there more about these girls than meets the eye? What is the story?


The blue clothing brings the right and middle figures together in the shape of the letter M forming a bond between them. The white clothing does the same in the shape of a W between the left and right figures. Their harmony of color intermingle to tell us of a friendship or a relation of the three. But something is amiss. While the two figures on the left each has her own lines that signal affinity with the figure on the right, somehow this linear affinity is not shared between them. They are close in proximity, but they each have an underlying secret affinity with the figure on the right.



There is an air of deceptive calmness to the painting that is brought about by the horizontal likes that outline the river banks. these split the painting into three almost equal horizontal areas also adding to the seeming calm. It is when you divide the painting vertically that you start seeing the tension that Gagnon has placed in there. You can clearly see that the left and middle figure have their heads almost touching. This is counter balanced by the further head of the right figure. The direction of the torsos in the figure also echo this affinity of the left and middle figure and the alienation of the right one.



More importantly though if you also draw vertical lines to divide the painting you would see how the tension is so expertly placed. The two figure on the left occupy the calm center of the painting. While the right figure literally teeters on the edge. 

The scene is peaceful, but something is not quite right with the ladies in the painting. How complex are their relationship with each other? Are there secrets that are not shared between the three? Gagnon hints to that, but leaves us to build the rest of the narrative. What an amazing painting isn't it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Utility Tray Addition to the Portage Pochade Box

I just finished building an addition to the Portage pochade. This utility tray attaches to the pochade and helps me keep all my gear together and not lose things along the way.
PochadeTray
Here is the video on how to build it. If you need help let me know.