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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A Compact Plein Air Set Up for Pastel

'The Path on the Left'             6x6             plein air pastel           ©Karen Margulis
In response to some questions about my plein air set up I am sharing this post from the archives!

 It has to be compact and light. Everything has to fit in my backpack. Over the years I have continuously downsized my plein air set up. I remember the days of dragging a rolling cart filled to the top with painting supplies. Set up took forever. I could never find what I wanted in the cart full of unnecessary stuff.  It was discouraging and plein air wasn't something I enjoyed.

Until I downsized! Now I have several different downsized plein air set-ups. I keep them always ready. The type of painting situation helps me decide which set up to bring.  Today I will share my Compact Travel Light Set Up.

'Blue Ridge Memories'          6x6       $65
Travel Light Kit: Heilman double sketchbook pastel box, Heilman easel attachment,  Oben AT3400 tripod

Everything fits in my Orvis backpack with room to spare. I will always carry this on the plane. I have room for extra travel needs such as my toiletries and iPad mini.  I use an Oben AT3400 tripod which folds up to 16". It will fit in the backpack but sometimes I put it in my checked bag if I want extra room in the backpack.

Heidi checks out my set-up. Here you can see the inside of the Orvis backpack. I love this pack because it sits so well without flopping over. I used it to weigh down my tripod using a mini bungee cord. It also has plenty of outside pockets.

This is all of my gear. I am using a Heilman double sketchbook pastel box. I put the metal ease attachment into a small stuff sack to keep it protected. I have my backing board with bankers clips. This is actually a hard plastic board which will hold paper. It is called an Artworks Book from Easel Butler.  I have a pouch for baby wipes, a zippered pouch for miscellaneous supplies such as tape, watercolor set, alcohol, fixative. I also have 2 black portfolio folders by Itoya. I use these to store my paper and the finished paintings.

Here is the Heilman box open. I have an assortment of Terry Ludwig pastels on the left and Girault pastels on the right. I do vary the selection depending on my location.  I don't preselect my pastels before I start painting since my palette is already limited!

Here is the entire set up. I was asked about the stability of this set up. I did notice some shaking but I am a fairly aggressive plein air painter so I did hold onto the board to steady it some. If I was a kind and gentle painter it wouldn't be as noticeable. It really didn't bother me. I am trading size and weight for complete stability and to me it is well worth it!

In April I will be taking this set up with me to teach a plein air workshop in Dripping Springs Texas. There are still a couple of spots available for this fun workshop in a beautiful place. Come paint the bluebonnets with me!

If you'd like to see this set up in action watch my plein air demo video on YouTube click HERE


Heilman Designs
Easel Butler Artworks Book
Itoya Original Art Portfolios


katybee said...

Lovely painting Karen. And since It's snowing here in northern New England yet again, seeing spring blossoms somewhere is heartening.
And great tips on downsizing for plein air and travel. I'm curious if you see yourself using this set up instead of your Gogh box or in different ways?

Karen said...

Thanks Katy! I love the Gogh Box and will still use it. I was looking for something thinner so I could get more travel things in my backpack. When I don't need the extra room I will take the Gogh box!

Sandi G said...

Thank you for answering my question re palette choices for pleinaire. Wonderful demo.
Last year I bought a Sienna box and I really like it. You are so right, about not dragging a bunch of stuff with you, better to keep it pared down. It sleeted today ugh!
Next week spring may come to NY and I might be able to get out there. Watching your video is very encouraging and inspires me to work outside more.

robertsloan2art said...

Oh wow this is interesting. I've been tempted by the double sketchbox Heilman for some time, it looked so great and I thought I'd be able to get quite a lot of half sticks into it. Your color choices are naturally different from mine due to style, but a close look at the photo revealed that I'd be able to fit all my Ludwigs into it!

How much was that tripod? It looks awesome. I don't know if I'd set up exactly like yours or just use the aluminum clip board if I'm doing 6" x 8" or 8" x 10" or smaller. That'd fit on the easel attachment just the same.

It's very cool. I love the way you could get everything into your carry on if you don't need much clothes on a trip. You come up with the best setups sometimes!

It's great that you can choose which one fits the trip you're doing. The Gogh Box one was cool too and also that mini setup in the zippered bag you took on the cruise. You've drifted farther in the direction of limited palettes, the combination of Ludwigs and Girault is so elegant for textures.

As for previous article, I think I need to play with Ludwigs on Mi-Tientes, since the pads are so handy for going out!

Tim Moore said...

wonderful...we are moving as as i was packing up painting supplies, i stared wondering what, how i would carry what i need,since we will be on a mini vacation then rent for awhile..most supplies will be in storage, so finding a way to carry while we travel is going to be fun!..thanks for the great ideas and naming your equipment..

Polly Birchall said...

So interesting to see your equipment! And particularly love the light on your first painting

Barbara said...

Such a timely and helpful post as I am waiting for the delivery truck to drop off my Heilman Double Sketchbox! - a birthday present from an indulgent husband. Not dragging all those supplies around will be so freeing and will get me out more often. Now, if only Mother Nature will bring on the Springtime.... Happy painting!

vonee said...

I am curious to know which set up you will bring to France this summer. I am trying to decide whether to buy the Heilman or trick out my own ape box. Sadly I missed meeting you by one workshop the last time you were at Stan's and I will miss you in France too as I am in the second group!