Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tippette #25 - HomeMade Travel Easels

Tippette = Snippet of a Tip (in watercolor).  One per day...during April...right here!  Tell a friend!
HomeMade Travel Easels

Since I'll be taking a group of students to Venice for a plein air workshop in October, we're starting to think about the best (and lightest) products to take with us on the plane.  An important consideration is our easel.  While there are several (ok, not really that many) good watercolor travel easels out there, they can be expensive. Many artists have gotten creative and have made their own.  Here are a couple of ideas that really make sense.

Camera tripod & plastic drip tray
Anne P. says this about her easel:  "I bought a drip tray at the hardware store, drilled a 3/16th's hole in it so the mount would fit through it to attach to the easel.  It was a little wobbly, so I added some foam carpet padding I found in the garage!  The drip tray was big enough to hold an Arches block and a small cup of water."   This setup really makes sense, and for an overseas flight, we might need to come up with an alternative to the plastic drip tray...anyone have thoughts on what could be used?  How about an aluminum baking tray?  Anything else?

Another artist, Jane C., came up with this idea:

Camera tripod & cigar box (or pochade box) - cups clipped on, left & right.
She says: "There are two ways (at least) of attaching the box to a tripod. For my box, which was a little heavy, I ordered a "universal tripod mount kit" from Judson Art Outfitters, the folks who make the Guerrilla pochade boxes. It costs $17.99. Gives the setup a little more stability. However, on a smaller, lighter honest-to-goodness cigar box, I have also used a little piece of hardware called a "t nut", found at hardware stores for about 99 cents. The little bolt on your tripod mount fits into the threads of these pieces of hardware. You drill a hole in the bottom of the box,  pop (from the inside) the t nut into it, and you now have something into which to screw the mounting plate of your tripod. You should just bring that top mounting plate of your tripod with you to the hardware store, to make sure you get the correct diameter of t-nut. They come in different sizes."

One thing I've personally done before is cut a piece of a "rubber gripper pad" (like you put under a rug) to the size of my tray.  It keeps things from rolling around too much in there.

I personally either use:
1) My Eric Michael’s En Plein Air Pro Easel (Cheap Joe’s has it for about $160 although it was $120 when I bought it: – Part # PROEASEL2).  It comes complete with a palette shelf, water pail, portable watercolor palette, and bags to carry everything in.  Video of the easel setup is here:

2) Or, if I'm painting closer to home AND I can throw whatever I want into my car trunk AND I don't have to haul stuff a long way, I like to sit in my folding chair and use a TV tray for my regular sized palette.  You'll see in this picture that I use that blue rolling box in the foreground of the picture to put all things into, and I put down an old blanket or shower curtain or vinyl tablecloth under me if I'm out there barefooted.  It keeps the ants at bay for a little while (or, at least you can see them coming!).

Thanks to my two artist friends for their 2 excellent ideas today!  Do you have others to share with us?  What's worked for you and what things have you learned to avoid?  It's all helpful to us!

Come with Helen K. Beacham and Kelly Medford to paint Venice this October...
Two Spots Left!
click HERE for details!