Thursday, August 22, 2013

Summer Morning, Ebb Tide Marsh and Packing for Plein Air Travel

6"x8" oil on linen mounted on panel
For more information, or to purchase, click here.  

Summer mornings of acid-lemon green grass
shimmering in warm air.

Sunlight is melting through the trees -
cresting the upper most branches. 

The heat doesn't pass the treeline...
not until the sun arcs over the tops.

Then the marsh wakes up
alive with noise...
a 'quiet noise' of its own nature...
bugs, birds, breeze.

And I have captured my prize, 
and am on my way home. 

Do you have a refuge? A place you love to go, to "get away from it all"? Hopefully it's got a better view than your basement! What a good excuse to get out into nature. Away from cell-phones, deadlines, commitments. They will all be there anyway, waiting for your return. Having a refuge (especially one that's not much further than your back yard or neighborhood) is a good way to balance life!

Now, how to balance packing?? At this point in the summer, after much travel and toting my gear around locally, I need to sit down and re-organize my back-pack. (Yikes! You can see what a wreck it is now!) This little bag has been SO handy. It's a little rolling back-back I bought at Walmart for about $35 many years ago.  And yes, it has been used as carry-on on some air-travel trips and checked baggage on other airline trips.  It's taken a beating and still survived. But it's just the right size for making you keep your gear light so that you can carry it on your back if you need to, OR roll it on its wheels with the handle extended if you wish to do that.  I usually carry bug-spray, baby-wipes, paper-towels, bull-dog clips, plastic grocery bags for trash, a painting apron to keep clean as possible and have pockets handy, a wide-brimmed sun hat with a cord/strap if it gets windy. 

For my paints I take one tube of each color that I'll need. For trips lasting several days to a week, where I'll be doing a lot of painting, I'll bring two tubes of the colors that I tend to use a lot of: ultramarine blue, cad lemon yellow, and Titanium white (or a large tube of T. white). For longer trips I'll take two sets of my paint colors, each set bagged separately.  For some locations, it's not possible to go buy new paints if you run-out. I always put them in zip-loc baggies, just in case one of them starts to leak or ooze. You just never know. Anything I can do to help stay clean is the better way to go. For now, I bag up reds together, blues together in their own bag, and then yellows in their bag, etc.  For the longest time I'd only use a warm and a cool of each primary, plus white.  At this point, I do like to carry along some transparent colors to use as under-painting.

 Also, Guerilla Paintbox is running a special (33% off & free shipping) recently on their little Mighty-Mite brush cleaner- (that green lidded thing below). It's small and handy enough to fit in tight spaces.

I've recently learned to pack a pair of wind-pants in the front pocket of my pack during certain parts of the year. It can be bitter cold in some areas if the wind picks up, and they are light and don't take up too much room. 

So the thoughts are how to do this with as little weight to haul to the airlines, yet have only as much gear as you truly need!

In my brush pack here, you can see that I've been suffering from a recent case of B.A.D. (brush acquisition disorder). No I don't need all these with me on my upcoming trip! 

I'll keep my canvases fairly small on this trip. Usually when I'm flying I keep my panel sizes under 9x12...and 8x10s have been a big favorite of mine.  Below is one of my favorite products: Raymar art panels. When they came up with the thinner, lighter weight panels called "Feather Lite", what a difference that made. It doesn't look like much, but those panels weigh a lot when they're all stacked up together. I love their oil primed canvases, but they do make a nice smooth finish acrylic gessoed canvas that's less expensive yet still has a nice surface to work on.Oh, and that funny looking grey plastic box in the first picture of gear is one of Raymar's wet-panel holders. It's for 8x10s but will hold 8x8s or 8x6s as well. It's a great little holder and VERY light weight. That's the best way of getting those wet paintings back home!

So, along with all these gadgets, I take bull-dog clips (did I mention those already?)

They are handy for clipping your trashbag onto something so that it's not flapping in the wind (so annoying), or anything else you might want to clip down tight. They are handy. I usually bring 2 to 3 of those.

Last of all, I have 2 favorite travel easels.  I love the medium size Artbox & Panel setup that I have, but to really scale down light I've been using an OpenBoxM - the small 8x10 size. It fits into this back-pack really well, and is light-weight, but big enough to handle an 8x10, 9x12, possibly larger, but those are the sizes that I work in with this when I'm keeping things as light as possible.  
 The tripod that I use with it has its own carrying case, so I throw that over my shoulder as well, when I need to hike in to my location. 
There it is in the long black zip-bag. This is the only piece that doesn't fit into my back-pack. When I fly, I put this piece in my regular suitcase that goes with the checked luggage.  It's relatively light as far as tripods go, but it's pretty sturdy. It's a SLIK F740 (see the ArtBoxandPanel website).  I've had other tripods that have been disastrously difficult to use, or too heavy or too light. This one is 'just right'. 
 So your mission, if you choose to accept to watch me take this mess and organize it into something I can travel with next week!

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