Art In History Art Blog
I think many artists are discouraged from working out of doors by the problems of putting together a kit which is portable and not too complicated. I have settled on the French Easel, an ingenious piece of equipment designed for the purpose.
My first paintbox easel, almost fifty years ago, cost me c.$250 and lasted me ten years without complaint. Since then I have tried a number of name brands and found them all a disappointment: none lasted very long without breaking down. There may be a really well made one out there, but I don't know what it is.
Instead, I have decided to consider my easel a consumable item. I now buy the easels two at a time at Ocean State Job Lot for $50 apiece, and assume they will last me a year.
The box contains everything I need to work outdoors, except the painting panels themselves. Actually, I have taken to also carrying my medium bottle separately, to keep the box from getting too gummy too fast. The two compartments below the sliding tray contain my brushes, dry in one, wet in the other.
For painting on site, I use prepared hardboard panels, gessoed and toned. They are not only much less expensive than canvas, but are much more portable and more durable. I keep about 20 of them of different sizes and shapes in the back of my car, always at the ready. I'll talk more about the panels another time.
For me, a key piece of equipment that is often overlooked is a visor, or billed cap. It is amazing how much more you can see with your eyes shaded, even if the sun isn't an immediate problem. If, like me, you wear glasses, it is crucial, since light getting behind your glasses will reflect off the inside of your lenses.
An even more esoteric clothing problem is your shirt! I have found that wearing a white shirt, or one of a strong color, interferes with my color judgement. I can see the shirt reflected in the painting, and the reflection moves as I move. Not good.
Lastly, if you would like to head off the beaten path beyond the distance where it is comfortable to carry the box by its handle, I recommend a packframe. I have one rigged up with two bungee cords which I can comfortably take a mile into the woods, or even up a small mountain. With my box and packframe, I am truly free to go where the paintings are.