Barn Finished

Pennsylvania Barn. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Here he is and I managed to build on a good start. Those trees took

and could maybe have some more work done on them but I didn’t want to overload them. Pretty happy. Love the light in this.

Some intermediates

The Gurney Sketch Easel is Complete!

The Gurney sketch easel is complete!!! Painting has taken a little bit of a back seat this week as I finally decided to make a James Gurney style lightweight sketch easel. He has a fantastic video showing you the details and many more details on his blog

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Art Materials For Lightweight Sketching

The materials didn’t cost very much themselves. The wood was $15 and I have enough to make 4 more easels if I want to :-). The hinges were $10 and the little nalgene 2oz water jar was $6. Small neodymium magnets hold the water pot and the palettes to the easel. They cost around $10 and I have plenty left over. The easel fixes to the tripod using a t-nut and quick release plate which cost around $12.

My biggest purchase was the set of travel brushes that sit handily over the sketchbook for easy access. This was $40 but I suspect will get a lot of use.

Here are all the art tools laid out on the finished easel. The little paint palette is an ancient Daler Rowney watercolor palette with teeny quarter size pans. It’s highly portable and fine for outside sketching. The sketchbook is a pentalic sketchbook in the larger size. The smaller 5×8.5 version fits on more neatly.

Gurney sketch easel tin palette
Gurney sketch easel tin palette

Tools Needed to Make the Easel

I did spend a fair bit more on tools to construct the easel. I needed special forstner drill bits for the magnets and a spade bit to recess the t-nut for the tripod. Then there was glue, some clamps, epoxy putty for the hinges, screws, and oil for wood finishing (I found wood stain in the garage). I suspect after some use I’ll be making another one. Maybe I’ll try one a little bigger but who knows.

An Easel Shot with Sketch!

Here it is with a shallow tin as a palette which I’ve sprayed with white enamel paint. Good for gouache I think. This also shows the smaller Pentalic sketchbook which is still big enough for fairly detailed sketches.

Gurney sketch easel ready for action
Gurney sketch easel ready for action

Some Action Shots of the Easel

Here are some more shots! Can you tell I’m really pleased with myself? For its size and weight it really is a useful little thing. Can’t wait to try it out in earnest. Many, many thanks to James Gurney and all the wonderful helpful people on the facebook sketch-easel group


Still Life Reference Photos

Online classes are starting soon and I’m in need of some still life photos. I use these mainly for color matching and mixing exercises and need some good, clear still life references. Out with the trusty tripod and LUMIX ZS50, some coroplast board and assorted fruits.

White backgrounds are good for watercolor exercises

Fruit still life with white background
Fruit still life with white background

I like to have bright and light photos for my still life classes. The classes are great for practicing color identification and mixing and the fruit shapes are simple enough for beginners to tackle. These setups are intentionally a little, dare I say it, dull. They’re not meant to result in paintings you’d hang on your wall but a means of practicing skills that will pay off in your real paintings. An example video from my youtube channel showing how I approach these kinds of setups is linked below

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White wooden blocks are great for practicing values

white block value study reference
White block value study reference

While I had the photography gear out I took some photos of my white wooden blocks and colored spheres. The blocks are great for practicing painting values and the spheres for modeling form correctly. They seem simple but they’re not.

You can get a selection of blocks from Amazon. I get plain wood ones and simply paint them white with some acrylic paint.

Colored spheres are good for color exercises and modeling form

polystyrene colored spheres for color exercises
Polystyrene colored spheres for color exercises

These are 3 inch styrofoam balls which I’ve also painted using acrylic. They’re not perfect – the bobbly surface disrupts the smooth change in value so I might invest in some wooden ones. Good enough for now though. (Update: the wooden ones are much better). As well as white it’s useful to paint the same shaped block or sphere with different values. These are good for modelling form through value. Hat tip to Paul Foxton for the idea.