Friday, April 23, 2010

Watercolor Palettes - Homee, Holbein, Craig Young (Oh my)

I've spent the last 2 days researching metal folding watercolor palettes for plein air use and have come to the conclusion that what I have currently - a plastic 'Homee' palette which I think I purchased from Art Xpress, is looking better all the time!  I have the 'small' size.  It offers more mixing areas and has a small rubber 'seal' around the edge which keeps my pigments moist and also helps prevent spillage when closed.  The clear plastic mixing area that fits in the lid is removable for cleaning, so the white lid itself it can also be used as an extra mixing area if needed.

However, lately I've been toying with the idea of using a palette I can hold in my hand, as I sometimes feel I can't get to my colors fast enough when painting.  I've tried different ways to position it closer to my board while painting en plein air, but I still tend to 'hit' the easel with my brush a lot when going back and forth between palette and board.  Since my left hand is usually just holding extra brushes, thought I'd try holding a palette in it instead (and could still hold a brush or two/my small mist bottle).  So that would require a palette with either a 'thumb ring' mounted underneath the palette or a thumb hole, neither of which the Homee palette has.

I really like the palette used by Alvaro Castagnet, but after much, much searching to find the maker of this palette, I discovered that it is way out of my piddly little price range, not to mention that the waiting list to get one is months.  It's one of those little jewels that I can only dream of some day owning, if ever.   Craig Young is the maker of these beautiful watercolor palettes, and I literally mean 'maker', as each one is hand-made, signed and numbered, thus the high cost (approx. $400.00 USD for the 'Paint box' model which I like).  They are truly works of art.  You can see them on line at the Paint Box Company.  Drool away...

The following are threads that led me to Craig Young's Watercolor Palette:

Wet Canvas - This Wet Canvas thread is finely where I found it.  At the bottom of the page are images of the long anticipated arrival of an artist's one-of-a-kind Craig Young Palette which had just arrived to his home.  As your scrolling to bottom of page to view images, pause to view an image another artist posted of a Craig Young painting.

Painters Online - Artist 'Harry' describes going to Young's home and workshop to pick up his palette in person.

Well, in my dreams.  If I do purchase a palette, it will probably be Holbein's 1000 series which Art Xpress is offering for a great price of around $72.  A lot of artists seem to like this palette (I think it's what Zbukvic is using in his videos).   Be sure though, if purchasing one, that you get the Holbein brand, as there are some Holbein 'look alikes' out there.

Well I was thinking, there must be some way, since I like my Homee palette just fine for now, to rig something so I can hold it in my left hand while painting.  This is the ceramic artist in me, making one's own tools is part of the fun of being a potter (but I'm always trying to think of ways to 'fix' a problem).  I thought of a small plastic oil/acrylic palette that came with an old paint box I bought at a garage sale a few years ago.  Even though covered with dried up paint, I knew all it needed was a good scraping and it would be good-to-go.  It has the perfect shape - about 5" wide x 10 1/2 " long - perfect to velcro my watercolor palette to!  Using Velcro would enable me to quickly remove it for cleaning, storage, or to use laying flat.

I scraped the paint off and here's what it looks like:
 The thumb hole for this little palette is very comfortable, which is why I saved it. 

Then, I laid my open palette on it to see how it 'felt'.  It felt just fine on my arm, with the paints at the top, just like I prefer.  The lid, or large palette area rests perfectly against the inside of my elbow.  Now, where's that extra black Velcro tape I saved from my last hair-brain project..  then again, that Holbein 1000 sure is purdy...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finished Snow Scene, Alvaro Castagnet's New Video, Rene Beeldendkunstenaar

I've been a bit busy lately with things other than art, but that should be no excuse for not painting! However, I like to be able to concentrate solely on my art when doing it. I'm now between 'projects' around the house so am anxious to get out and paint.

Below is the finished snow study I last posted, which was unfinished at the time.

I still have a couple of things I feel the need to correct, but for the most part it's complete enough - just need to tone down the moss covered rock in the foreground and add the same color a couple of places elsewhere.  Also the small burnt red 'roof' in the upper-right background is distracting; in hindsight, I should have omitted it all together. Of course it's close enough to the edge of the painting that it can be omitted when framed. Or I could 'lift' it out some with water and add more trees.  Also, there's  a tangent effect going on between the large and tall skinny trees in the left foreground, creating too much tension and drawing my eye away from the focal point (the fallen trees and ravine to the right), but not much I can do about that.  I just placed them too close together to begin with and I should have angled or slanted the smaller tree to the right instead of swinging it back to the left.  Adding a light colored limb with a couple of others at different lengths to the left side of the tall young tree that's in front of the larger tree, I think, would help break that up though.  Anyway....

I recently received Castagnet's new video and really like it.  He gives more detailed info as he's painting in this one it than the last one i.e. specific colors he's using as he's painting.  Yes, I realize that specific color being used is not important and that it's all about warm vs. cool, and value; however, I do think it helps us the viewer 'student' know, especially when working in watercolor, whether that warm or cool color is opaque, semi-transparent, or transparent, and even what brand is being used as brands do differ in color and other characteristics.  I just wish he would occasionally demo something other than paintings with architectural subject matter.  That's just personal preference though, I'm sure that he paints those because that's what he's 'passionate' about.  And I'm still able to glean from the demos what I need in order to learn better technique.  I'm hoping that Zbukvic will do some countryside landscapes on his next video. He probably will as he seems to really enjoy painting them.

There are a couple of artists' blogs I'd like to share with you, but will just mention one for now as I'm short on time at the moment.  His name is Rene Beeldendkunstenaar, located in the Netherlands.  His blog site is . When checking my blogroll updates,  I can scan like lightening through my RSS feeds and spot his work immediately.  I really admire this man's dedication to plein air, not to mention his paintings.  Rene's paintings truly capture the essence of plein air. My reaction to his paintings is visceral and I relate very strongly to his taste in subject matter. Enjoy, and 'til next time, happy living and creating...(and I'll try to post sooner next time!)