Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The art books are going too!

I'm quite sure that Julian has an excellent library of art books - and I'm looking forward to reading some of them.  However on the journey down and while I'm there I want some of my comfort zone books with me.

Particularly since I'm Learning how to paint with oils in Provence.

I realised how long I've been planning to paint in oils when I took a look at my shelves to find the oil painting books.

Here's the books I've bought in the past - with particular reference to the ones I'm probably taking with me.  I'm including links to the websites of artists which is another way I buy books - because I ask the question "Do I like the art that the artist produces?"

General information / compendium
Single author - oil painting instruction
Squinting eliminates the unnecessary
  • Brushwork Essentials - by Mark Christopher Weber  (North Light Books 2002) This is a book which I bought on the basis of a recommendation in an earlier exercise about "best books" on this blog.  It's the only book I've ever come across which shows you which brush to use and how for which effect.   
  • Colour and Light in Oils by Nicholas Verrall (Batsford 2004)  This is a painter who is very positive about the use of colour - particularly in countries around the Mediterranean.  His book also focuses on how to bring space, depth and light into oil painting.
I've also got quite a few books (understatement!) which focus on some of the greatest painters working in oils - such as John Constable and JMW Turner.

The ones I'm inclined to take with me are the books by Curtis, MacPherson and Verrall - and quite possibly the brushwork book too.

Over on Making A Mark today I have a post which poses the question Which are the best books about oil painting?  It asks for suggestions as to what are good books.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

My Art Materials - or why it's a good idea to take a car!

This is my checklist of art materials and equipment for drawing, sketching and painting in Provence.  It contains some top tips from people more experienced than me at painting plein air in oils.

I thought I might as well put it on the blog and then I can't lose it!  I'm bound to have forgotten stuff I need to take so this will keep being updated as I remember it!  Hopefully it will be complete before I set off on 9th June.

Now I know it looks like a lot but I am going to be in Provence for three weeks and this is a painting holiday not a sightseeing one.  Plus I've got six days of travelling there and back when I'll be fitting in sketches to break up the journey.

Plus I'm driving - and that's what I buy a decent sized car for - so I can take art materials on holiday!

  • Moleskine sketchbooks (A3, A4 x 2, ordinary size)
  • Moleskine watercolour sketchbook
  • Panorama sketchbook?
Dry Media

Unison Pastel Sets at Walden Pond
  • My complete sets of Unison Pastels - seen above during a plein air outing to Walden Pond in Massachusetts
  • My Pastel Art Bin (more portable!)  So sad to see that they don't seem to be making these any more - I really like them.  However they won't take Unisons which is why I've always kept mine in their boxes.
  • Lots and lots of coloured pencils + pencil wraps + pencil cases

Water based media
  • Schminke paintbox - if I can find it
  • Gouache - but whose? / do my old tubes still work?
  • Black brush roll and Brushes for watercolour / gouache
Oil paints
  • W&N Griffin Alkyds (need to buy / including 200ml white / need to decide how these are best carried)
  • W&N Liquin
  • W&N Art Guard
  • W&N Art Gel
  • Brushes for Alkyds - to buy 
  • Palette knives for Alkyds - to buy
  • Cheap nutcrackers for if lids are hard to open (tip from Vivien Blackburn)
  • Zest It
  • Disposable Palette Pad
  • Really Useful Boxes for paint tubes and other art media
  • Baby oil to clean brushes and clothes!  (another tip from Vivien Blackburn)
I'm also looking at oil bars as maybe a half way house for me -see Winsor & Newton's page Artists' Oilbar - Oil Colour at your Fingertips

Paper and supports
  • Pack of Arches sheets cut down to usable sizes
  • Arches HP Block
  • Ampersand Colorfix (Fix colourfix to mountboard?)
  • Mountboard cut down to usable sizes (plus gesso? / plus watercolour ground?) 
  • Oil Painting Pad (A3?)
  • Baking Paper to cover wet paint (that tip was from Sarah) 
  • Cling film to cover palette (that tip was from somebody else - I forget who) 
Links:  Paper and Non-Canvas Supports - Resources for Artists
    Art Equipment
    Me on my Phillips Chair - nearly 20 years ago
    Sketching Pura Ulun Danu Bratan by Lake Bedugal in Bali
    Check this gallery for the pastel painting completed at home
    Various chairs and stools

    I'm going to take different ones have different weight for different circumstances - plus we're a party!)
    Drawing boards and clips
    • Different size sheets of 5mm foam core for drawing board 
    • LOTS OF BULLDOG CLIPS (can you tell what I often forget?)
    Easels and pochade boxes
    Vivien - who understands my problems with carrying too much weight / the need to maintain balance at all time (or else I fall over due to very dodgy feet!) - suggests I forget the pochade box and easel and use something lightweight as an alternative - she's now written up her advice in the email below as a proper post re what she takes on painting holidays
    Consider as an alternative,  a simple plastic food box - the kind with clip sides is good.  That's what I took to Cornwall.  Though I took my easel I never actually used it!   I hand hold my work - you can use the lightweight board you use and clip your sketchpad and palette to it with bulldog clips.  The liquin and palette knives fit into the box as well.   Brushes in an old padded envelope rolled up.   Then baby oil and rags and tissues plus your oil paper sketchbook and it all fits into a lightweight rucksack.
    Vivien Blackburn (Painting Prints & Stuff)
    Painting media equipment
    • baby oil and wet wipes - for cleaning up
    • Masking tape
    • roll of kitchen towel 
    Pastels and Pencils media equipment

    Camera etc
    • Camera + charger
    • two new SD cards
    • spare batteries + charger
    • Camcorder + charger + new SD card
    • iPad + mains lead + USB cable + up to date software
    • card reader
    Venice shopping trolley
    doubles as Artcart
    Other essential equipment

    • Sun Tan cream / sun block
    • long sleeved shirt for if I'm in full sun
    • insect repellent plus cream for if I get bitten (guaranteed!)
    • Visor to keep sun out of my eyes.  I don't wear sunglasses while using colour.
    • Hat with decent brim
    • Baby Oil and wet wipes - clean up equipment
    • Shopping trolley from Venice - this from a holiday where I gave in and realised that the shopping trolleys were an excellent way of getting stuff around really easily 

      Even if it's just for ourselves!

      • BluTak for displaying work without damaging walls 
      Books about Oil Painting

      But that's another post.......

      Saturday, 28 May 2011

      Learning how to paint with oils in Provence

      My challenge for this painting holiday is to learn how to paint with oils.

      I've got enough time and hopefully enough good weather to make some progress.

      However I'm a bit wary of the drying time, (given I've got to transport paintings home plus all the rest of the paraphernalia associated with being away for four weeks).  I've been with people painting with oils in Provence before who were completely stumped as to how they were going to transport wet oil paintings back home on a plane.

      Which means I'm leaning towards using Alkyd oil paint instead as this is quick-drying and that will mean I'm hopefully transporting paintings which are dry.
      All colours in the range remain workable on the palette for 4 to 8 hours, and are touch dry on the canvas in 18 to 24 hours.
      Winsor and Newton - Griffin Alkyds
      I'd be very interested to hear from anybody who has used either or both in what will hopefully be a warm/hot summer climate.

      Colour Palette - what's available and what I will need

      Below is the colour chart for Winsor and Newton's Griffin AlkydsThis is the table of information about composition and permanence which indicates all are rated extremely permanent or permanent.  Now to work out which ones to get!

      Winsor & Newton Griffin Alkyd Colour Chart
      click to see larger version on W&N website

      My experience when going abroad is that there is usually a colour which is quite unlike anywhere else. 

      I've already asked Julian (Postcard from Provence) what his recommendations are as to colours.  I remember when I first went to Provence feeling a strong need to get some naples yellow very fast.  I also couldn't work out what colours made the sky colour or the universal blue house paint of Provence.

      Julian suggestions for blues are as follows
      • Manganese blue or ceruleum and ultramarine
      • cutting ultramarine with cad red to get that hot dusty blue/grey which is so south of france
      • the deep blue of looking up away from the sun I usually manage with ultramarine and ceruleum or manganese mixed 
      My Queries

      Since this is a virtual house party, I've listed my queries below.  Do feel free to join in! :)
      1. What colours do I need for Provence?
      2. Does anybody had any experience of using Zest It with Alkyds?  I'm very keen on using something which is non toxic.
      3. Which brushes work best when painting small paintings with alkyds?
      In my next post I'll be ruminating on easel versus pochade......

      Tuesday, 24 May 2011

      First Things First

      OK, I am getting my priorities right here, got my ticket to fly, brought and paid for, got a passport, up to date with an unsmiling,  recognisable photo.  Now, the most important thing is to sort out what I am taking.  I am talking art materials here, not books or even clothes but paint, paper, drawing implements, brushes, boards etc.

      What I plan to do is work out how many paintings I can do in a day, how many days I am staying in Provence, add a few more for good luck, gather it all together then weigh it.

      Then clothes will take up the spare space, or not.  I could always wear a lot of my clothes, all at once for the flight!  Luckily Katherine has offered to take my oil paints with her as she is driving down and air planes don't like to take oil paints.  So I have a few colours arriving in the next day or two and then they will head off for the big city from Cornwall in a lovely parcel.

      I am getting very excited, and the countdown thing on the side of this blog is making it worse...only 17 days to go!!
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