A few days at the White River State Park was the perfect time to start working with pastels. I am rusty and working on techniques. I took a limited palette of pastels and a cheap-o easel. Boy was the easel a mistake, way too light weight to be useful. But that’s why I do try outs, to see what works and what doesn’t.
These are all small pastel sketches of scenes around our campsite in Chance the Chinook.
There are still a few things to do on my pastel carry-all. It is going to be useable as it is which is a good thing because we are going to the river and I plan on some creative time. At least one day is predicted to be 100 degrees but there is always early morning and evening when it will be cooler.
I discovered a few things like I have holes in my color range, especially in the violets and blues. Since I do a lot of landscape and nature work those colors are important. I also have holes in my lightest values. This box does not hold all my pastels so I need to make a few more of these. I really like that I can cover them, cinch them together and go but can still easily use them in the studio. There is enough room to put my hardwood backing board and papers under the cinches, making it an all in one. Just grab my easel and go
Remember, Ron and I are not woodworkers or furniture makers. We use what we have and make do as we need to.
I am always pleased when what I think a project will look like actually comes about.
We got the divided trays glued together to make the 2 sides. Then we put molding on the sides to make a 1/4 inch lip. This will hold the lids on the boxes. Quarter inch plywood was cut to make the lids.
I need to line each box with foam and then get some memory foam to attach to the lids. All of that will keep the pastels from moving around too much. I haven’t decided if I will actually hinge these together or just sinch them with twill belts or velcro. Probably one more day to finish and load this puppy up!
I have been organizing all my art supplies. My pastel collection has been growing and I need a way to store them, use them and be able to take them into the field for en plein air. My search of commercial pastel boxes that were within my budget was not successful. If you have known me for a long time you know that I am cheap, like to repurpose and if all else fails DIY.
It didn’t take long to know that I am at the DIY stage. I looked at all the pochade boxes I have as well as vintage art boxes and they were not going to work out. They were like Goldilock’s bears, either too big, too small but none were just right.
I looked at buying a couple of letterpress drawers/trays from old print shops but none were exactly right. So I started looking on Amazon which is the next best thing to thrift shops for odd purchases. I found these great lightweight divided trays. The size is perfect with a little tweaking. I plan to attach 2 together to make a larger tray. Then after the glue is dry on the 2 larger trays I will hinge them together to make a box.
Next will be adding a latch and a leather handle. The individual areas will be lined with foam in the bottom to cushion the pastels. Then I will need to make a foam lined lid for each side so the pastels don’t get too jostled around when I transport them.
While waiting for these trays to be delivered, I spent some time on the patio making my own sanded pastel boards. I have one more purchase of pastels coming and then I will be ready to get to work.
I have easels. I have a Julian Full Box . And they are all really heay. Too heavy for me to cart around for plein air. And the Julian is awkward. And heavy. And I am not a spring chicken who needs to spend time lugging around heavy easels. Where is the joy in that? I need a lightweight easel that can be used with any media I decide to use that day.
Good name brand plein air easels are darned expensive. That’s why many artists decide to make their own set ups. Over the years I have collected lightweight aluminum easels. I used them for display in the studio and for art tours or show and sale events. Surely I could figure something out…..figure something out without spending next month’s mortgage payment. It was time to drag out all my miscellaneous aluminum tripods and bits and and pieces to see what I could cobble together.
I had the base of the old Testrite plein air easel that was missing the top part for the canvas and one of the canvas clips. I found the table top Stanrite aluminum easel on ebay. Ron took a piece of one my misc. aluminum easels to extend the back leg of the table top. Then I could attach it to the stable Testrite easel. I love it, it is lightweight and extremely sturdy. The good thing about it is I can disconnect it and still use it as a table top.
There will still be a few modifications as I use it. I can use it sitting down or extend the legs to stand and paint. A good thing about the Stanrite is that even attached to the old plein air easel base I can change the angle of the painting . Im looking forward to some paint time soon!