Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Great Outdoors Test Run

Steve finished working on my test plein air setup today by making a wooden shelf for my pastel box and converting a cheapie tabletop easel to fit on the tripod. Today was quite overcast, so not perfect for plein air painting, but we decided to head out for a test run this afternoon anyway. The little easel actually did okay despite being very lightweight and simplistic, and the tripod seemed quite stable using my backpack as a weighted support on the center post. We still need to arrange a small shelf to hang on the side of the box for all the little extras, like pencils, shapers, erasers, blenders and such, but for the test run today, the bare-bones were fine, and I just grabbed accessories from the backpack as I needed them. Having a shelf will definitely help with comfort and convenience, though, making those items more readily accessible without the constant bending and rummaging.
DIY Plein Air Pastel Setup
Fry enjoyed the views from the river rocks while I got started on the preliminary sketch.
Fry and Me
And he came over to supervise while the painting was being blocked in.
Fry Supervising the Painting Block-In
We still need a few more tweaks to get things exactly like I want them, but so far, I have to say I'm pretty impressed with Steve's handiwork making me a DIY plein air setup!
DIY Plein Air Setup in Action

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ready for the Great Outdoors

Steve and I have been busy this past week, working on making a do-it-yourself plein air pastel box to replace my old makeshift one that finally gave out, and we finished it up this evening. Steve picked up some wood and made the basic box along with the wood dividers to create the pastel compartments, and put a nice brass latch on as well. We took the leather carry strap off my old half-French easel that I no longer use in the field and used it for this box.
DIY Pastel Box Closed
A piano hinge holds the box sides together and allows the box to open flat for resting on the easel shelf. Steve made thin wood panels lined with foam to cover and cushion the pastels during transport, while I fastened canvas offset clips to  hold the panels in place when the box is closed. A divot was cut out of each panel for easier removal. I also attached screw eyes to the back of the box which hook onto locking levers attached to my French easel, keeping the box secure while painting. We used extra-thick cushiony drawer liner for the pastels to rest on in their respective compartments, and the cushioning, foam and divider strips were all glued down securely.
DIY Pastel Box Open, Panels in Place
My pastels are generally arranged more or less according to value, although I unfortunately am not strict about maintaining that and frequently find the different values "visiting" each others' compartments...
DIY Pastel Box Open; Panels Removed
The photo below shows the foam cushions glued to the panels, with spaces between them matching up to the pastel compartment dividers, to provide the panels a snug fit over the pastel compartments on each side of the box.
DIY Pastel Box Open; Panels Removed, Showing Foam Liners
Looking forward to taking the new box out for a test run!