Saturday, December 31, 2011

Winterizing The Plein Air Gear

We finally have snow,  which means that the winter plein air season can finally start up here. I am getting ready for a trip to Algonquin park for a few days of winter painting soon. So it is time for me to winterize my gear.
Winterizing the pochade is one of the essential rituals of the season. I love working on a glass palette in the summer, but glass is not a good idea in winter at all. Glass and metal are out of my gear in winter. They conduct the cold too readily and when you are out in the snow, that can make your paints harder to work and your painting experience shorter and less enjoyable.
So off comes the glass (notice the nice value setup below the glass. I will miss that), and on comes a fresh piece of plywood.
1 3
Next I season the plywood with oil and later with leftover paints in several layers:
There are times though when painting while standing in the elements is just not possible. Its not really the cold, One can dress up for that. Its the wind or the snow that drives you back. In cases like that, it is a great idea to paint from the comfort of the car. For that I have a simple setup that consists of a steering wheel easel and a passenger seat  tray that holds my open pochade (used as a palette), brushed, tools and of course the turp can.
I actually have a can screwed into the tray and I simply slot my portable turp canister into it (where the coffee cup is now) . It is much safer that way. I don’t get any tipping accidents. Speaking of accidents, this whole setup is placed over a large drop cloth that covers everything from steering wheel to seats. It is too easy to get oil paint on the interior and i just don’t want that.
Here is a quick look at the back of the steering wheel easel. I keep it very simple because I don’t use the setup much, but it works very well and the simple clip on the top is all you need to hold a panel in place while you work on it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Outdoor Winter painting

Winter has always been a time when I have enjoyed outdoor painting. Mind you it is not always easy to paint outdoors in winter. Sometimes you have to retreat to the comfort of the car to paint from behind the wheel. For that I have devised a steering wheel easel that I don’t leave without. It is always better to be out in the open though, but sometimes it is just not possible.

First Thaw, Oil on panel, 8”x10”

You may think that the temperature is the deterrent. It isn’t. I have painted in –25C with not much difficulty. The temperature is not the issue. Wind though is a killer. A still cold crisp day is a blessing. But any sustained wind will test even the hardiest of winter outdoor painters.


It has been a mild winter so far with not much snow down here in the GTA, but I hope to making up for that soon. I am heading to Algonquin park in the second week of January for a few days of winter painting. That should be a lot of fun! I will be staying in the town of Whitney – minutes from the park’s east gate.

Being outdoors in winter is knowing how to dress for the occasion. I hope to post a full description of my winter gear soon. When you are out there and comfortable, there is whole world of colour and harmony to discover and enjoy painting. But comfort and safety are key to a successful outing. No use loosing a finger or an ear to get a painting done… I am no Van Gogh Smile

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Art Installations… Art?

Have you been keeping track of the latest mishaps in installation art around the world?

It seems that the almighty Damien Hirst had one more twist in his on-going saga with Cartrain, a teenage collage artist. Damien had ripped a concept of incrusting a skull with diamonds from his friend John Lekay who in 1993 made a skull incrusted with crystals. Damien’s “For The Love Of God” sculpture was made in 2007. When Cartrain made a collage of the diamond encrusted skull, Mr. Hirst was able to confiscate the work by bullying the kid’s gallery owner to release the collage to him or face legal action.

The kid recently retaliated by going to Tate where an installation by Mr. Hirst called Pharmacy was on display. Part of the display was a box of HB pencils which the young Cartrain swiped and subsequently put a note of ransom for in exchange for his collage. Hirst then sent Scotland Yard after the kid and they charged him with swiping the pencils. The value of the pencils somehow became half a Million British Pounds because they were in the installation!! Yes folks I can’t make this up. The 17 year old kid was charged with swiping a box of HB pencils that somehow ballooned in price from a few dollars to half a million British Pounds. Hirst also claims that his installation was irreparably harmed by the removal of the HB pencils. Oh my! The installation is worth 10 Million British Pounds!!! I say the kid was in his right to artistically express himself in a performance art as a parody of the installation no?

Fast forward and jump a few miles east to the Ostwall Museum in Dortmund, Germany where a cleaning lady cleaned a bucket that was part of an installation art that seemingly cause £690,000 damage to the bucket. You see the bucket was supposed to be dirty. The artwork in question was a Martin Kippenberger installation entitled 'When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling'. Again I am not making this up. I simply don’t have the imagination or the boldness to value crap at that high a price!

Now do me a favour and watch this Youtube video of a TED presentation. Interesting commentary on installation art and the state of art today eh? Tell you what, I am with the cleaning lady too. But what I most want to know is who values these installations? How do they value them? And who in God’s name is paying for this crap???