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En plein air

Reeder’s paint box

Happy New Year!

I wanted to start off 2014 with a little post about an easel/paint box I have made. Actually, I built this quite some time ago, it just didn’t make it into my blog until now.

As some of you may know I like designing and building my own…well, everything.  My last plein air easel was quite a bit smaller and required a separate case for my paints and things. I liked that one, there was never anything wrong with it, it was just another way of going about it.

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The 5th Annual En Plein Air Painting and Auction

On Thursday July 25th I will be participating in the 5th annual En Plein Air Painting and Auction event in Huntsville Ontario. Come for a chance to bid on my painting! I will be there with 20 other local artists and dignitaries creating paintings live on the streets of downtown Huntsville between 9am-2:30pm. Live auction begins at 3pm in Partners Hall – Algonquin Theatre. All funds raised by the auction go towards art bursaries for students who are pursuing a fine arts education.
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Studio in the woods

This painting is of the front door of my studio and gallery Spring Lake Studios. I painted most of this outside and finished it up indoors. I have painted this building a few times but this is the first one that I feel accomplished what I was looking to capture.

I love plein air painting but I am also very much a studio painter. It’s an interesting process and journey discovering all the different ways to paint and  be inspired. I find that much of my plein air works  are the beginnings of  paintings that I end up finishing in the studio. Starting a painting on location or working from studies or sketches done from life gives you invaluable information.  Photos alone always seem to be lacking some vitality, not to mention accuracy in tone and colour.

My studio and gallery is a special place for me, it was once the studio and gallery of my grandfather William Kratzer who was a landscape painter here for more than 30 years. Although we rarely painted together he showed me it was possible to make a living as a painter and that it was a viable occupation. That is a really big deal when you are in the early stages developing yourself as an artist in a world that doesn’t always consider it a ‘real’ job. I will always thank him for that.

Renovating this studio space over the last few years has been a labour of love and I am working to have it ready to open for spring 2012. Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming workshops at the studio and at some great locations in the neighbourhood for some painting en plein air.

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Build your own plein air easel.

This is a project that I have been looking forward to completing for some time now. I am very happy to have this finished and look forward to getting out and putting it to use.

The outside dimensions are 12 x 16 inches and it was built with 1/4 inch plywood with 3/4 inch ripped pieces of pine, but you could use hardwood as well.

The palette is plexi glass that I happened to have. I would like to change this to glass when this one gets too difficult to clean. Underneath I have a piece of linen toned to a neutral grey. Since I like to paint on toned grounds this allows me to mix on the colour/tone that I will be painting on.

I built this entire easel with scrap materials that were left over from other projects, including the stain and clear coat. The only thing I purchased for this was something called a t nut, which is what allows me to fasten the easel to a camera tripod.

The side hinge was the only piece of hardware I had difficulty in sourcing. So much so that I built my own using  two metal L brackets that I bent straight in a vice and with a hammer. Along with some washers, lock washers, two bolts, nuts and a wing nut to tighten and hold it in position, everything works perfectly.

The other aspect in this design that was difficult to decide on was how to keep the panel I would be painting on in place. I was considering fabricating my own hardware as I did with the side hinge until I came across Jim Serrett’s site Pochade Box Paintings. In his post on How to build your own Pochade Box , where he goes into great detail (and I highly recommend reviewing this post) he show’s how he used a small bungee cord through slots to hold the panel in place. I thought that was brilliant. It works great, it’s inexpensive, lightweight and you can tie a quick knot in it for smaller panels.  Many thanks to Jim Serrett.

I first saw this design at Open Box M and just loved it. If you are looking at purchasing a plein air easel instead of building your own I would take a look at the Open Box M site as well as another great easel design  at Alla Prima Pochade. They have a wonderful design as well.

Here are some more images of the easel to give you a better look at it and to help show you how it was built. If you have any questions about it feel free to post them or message me.

Happy Monday!

With an unfinished panel to show how it’s held in place.
and from the back, showing the bungee cord.
3/4 inch piece of plywood where the t nut is installed.
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