4–> 40 First day with the new easel

2015-11-07 10.09.22

vitex tree with cool shadows

Saturday I took the new easel out for a test drive, and it was fabulous.  I think it’s perfect for what i wanted.  It’s from a company called En Plein Air Pro and it’s made specifically for watercolor painting.  What makes it that, you ask?  Well, I will tell you.  The plane of the paper can be any degree from fully horizontal to fully vertical.  Traditional easels made for oils and acrylics may have some adjustments, but there’s no problem with those paints being done vertically because they are fuller bodied than watercolors which tend to run when really wet!

2015-11-07 10.44.29

easel set up in the shade with the painting started

So I had about a little over an hour before needing to gallery sit at the latest Art Association show, so I headed out to Memorial Park to see what struck my fancy.  I wasted time driving around, looking at this view and that, but ended up coming back to this vitex tree with its cool shadows.  This tree is unusual in its sprawling trunks and scraggy appearance with the seed pods of this summer’s flowers sticking up all over in little points.

I knew it would be challenging…but OH those shadows!

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taking the easel indoors to the art gallery

So here’s the setup in the shade, for comfort and to not have the sun’s glare on the paper distorting the colors and values.  Because it was the first day, I didn’t have the paints squeezed onto the palette shelf that came with it, so I have the palette covered and have my existing palette on top.  As it turned out I only had 20 minutes of actual painting time so it was a good start but needed more work.

File Nov 08, 5 46 14 PM

Vitex Shadows 8″ x 10″ watercolor

Back at the gallery, it was great to have the easel and take up less floor space than dragging out and setting up a table, etc.

So, showing the work warts and all, my finished result is not what I wanted, but there were a couple of “aha” moments when it was all clicking and I realized I’d learned something..

One thing I learned in the workshop is that the instructor recommends to put shadows down first before the local color (in this case the warmth of the grass) because he feels it integrates better.  And I’m sure that’s true.  What I need to do in future is to be more sure of the value of my shadows because my first layer was too light and I went back in twice.  I know the shadow would be much better if it were laid down once.

The next thing I learned is that while I’m happy with the color blending in the foliage I need to have a better plan to get it right and somehow show a bit of those scraggly bits, but the wheels are whirring in my mind on how to do it better, so I’m expecting fun times of practice in the next couple of days.

All in all, it was a fun premiere of the easel, and I’ll tell you more about it with pictures in coming posts.  Thanks for stopping by!

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11 thoughts on “4–> 40 First day with the new easel

  1. How nice ~ all you’re learning and your experiences, thanks for sharing because I can really get a lot from what you have to say. Interesting about doing shadows first. I can’t wait to see how you like adding the umbrella to your set-up, too. Beautiful work.

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  2. I really appreciate my easel also. It enables me to paint more freely (standing). I too struggle with the value of shadows. How to show they are a very important part of why I am painting the scene without going all the way to opaque? 🙂

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    • good question. Michael Riordan talked about linking the shadow with the object, and he would drag out the color from the bottom out to the side and add cobalt to it for a quick shadow. if you stick with an “in and out” shadow, i.e. getting in with the right value and not layer it. making it clean. and using transparent colors like cobalt and ultramarine?

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  3. Pingback: 4–>40 Easel Features | Rachel Murphree Watercolors

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