People often ask about the best equipment for plein air painting so here is a look at my kit and some links to suppliers.
I have two kinds of easel that I use outside: a French Easel and a panel/palette holder on a tripod.
The French easel is the one that looks most like a traditional easel. It’s made of wood, has a tray on the back to rest my brushes, brush washer/turps can etc. There is a drawer at the front to store tubes of paint and the palette sits on top of this. It’s a very versatile piece of kit that can support anything from a tiny board a few inches high to large canvas four feet across.
Jullian Half box French Easel JB40
I also have a more lightwight kit in the form of a Palette/Panel Holder from Open Box M. This sits on a tripod with a quick release plate and has a small shelf for brushes, dipper etc. A spring clamp system holds panels up to 20 inches across.
The tripod I use with my pochades and Open Box M panel holder is a Velbon Ultra Rexi L. It’s light weight, packs up small and is very sturdy. The legs are able to open out wide which is great for setting up in windy locations and when set up normally it takes up very little room – ideal for street scenes. I recommend using a tripod head with a quick release plate as that allows you to set up and dismantle your kit quickly. I have found a small Manfrotto ball head is ideal, it’s compact in size and rock solid.
Velbon Ultra 655 – updated replacement for the Ultra Rexi L.
Manfrotto 494RC2 Ball Head with Friction Control
Painting at Lands End.
Pochade: Open Box M. Tripod: Velbon Ultra Rexi L.
Dipper. Oil on board, 4 x 10 inches.
Palette Knife. Oil on board. 4 x 10 inches
I am very proud to be showing with the NEAC again this year. I have shown in this prestigious exhibition for the last 6 years. This year, for the first time, I sent in some little still life paintings to show that I do occasionally paint subjects other than my plein air landscapes. I was delighted that the judges liked them.
The day I painted these pictures I had gone in to my studio to paint a large picture from one of my location studies. But, as I looked at the dipper sitting on my palette I became intrigued by the way it seemed to blend in with it’s surroundings. Layers of old paint have built up over the years creating a patina-like finish on both the palette and the dipper. I realised that it could be painted by reproducing the colour, tone and shape of each mark.
These paintings and many of the others in the show can now be seen and purchased here.
New English Art Club.
Mall Galleries, London SW1.
26 November – 5 December 2010
I rarely paint inside, prefering to work ‘en plein air’. This week I have been painting some larger studio pictures from my location studies so I thought I would share these photos taken around my studio.
Click to view full size. See below for details of my favourite suppliers of oil painting equipment and materials.
I always use the best quality materials when I am painting. Here is a list of my favourite suppliers and what I buy from them:
Bird and Davis The UK’s oldest artists’ stretcher frame manufacturers and suppliers of best quality linen canvas.
C Roberson and Co High quality oil painting mediums and gilding supplies. Founded in 1810 – past customers include Turner, Whistler and Sargent!
Cornelissen and Sons Artist’s Colourmen since 1855. The best looking art shop in london. Brushes, goldleaf and other bits and pieces.
Gold Leaf Supplies Online seller of gold leaf and gilding supplies
Michael Harding Handmade artists’ oil colours
Old Holland Highly pigmented oil paints made to traditional formulas
Rosemary and Co High quality handmade brushes from Yorkshire
Winsor and Newton Professional quality artists’ oil colour
I spent the yesterday painting the snow at Harefield, Great Missenden and somewhere in the Chilterns (above) – warming up in the car as I travelled between locations.
The wet snow was mixing with the paint on my palette. Titanium white soon resembled ice cream and my brushes froze but it was a good day.
I will post some photos of the paintings later.
The plan was to paint in Trafalgar Square at night after the rain.
The rain stopped for just long enough for me to set up and start painting. But, 25 minutes into the picture the rain became so heavy I had to pack up. You can see how far I got in the picture above.
Above: Rain water on my palette.
- Raindrops on my palette
This evening I found myself rushing to try and finish a picture before the rain started. I was set up on a hill and could see the rain sweeping towards me across the valley.
The rain won on this occassion. I often finish pictures in the rain and sometimes even start them in the rain. Working in oils it is possible to carry on in quite bad weather when my watercolour colleagues have long packed up.
It is quite easy to remove enough water from the palette to keep painting just by giving it a good shake (remember to remove the dipper first). In theory the paint stays in place and the water slides off. In practice, well, that depends on how much you like to thin your paint.
If you have any tips or comments on painting in adverse onditions you can add them using the comments link below.