October 10 - 17, 2015 www.pleinairfrance.com
In my local workshops, the day starts when we meet at the location at 9:30. I will do a demonstration painting on the first day until lunchtime, generally noon-ish. After that everyone picks a spot and starts painting. I work with workshoppers individually to help them bring about their own visions in their paintings. The following days incorporate more painting by workshop attendees, sometimes on approaches or exercises that I assign. The workshop-day ends at 4 pm. The France workshop day stretches out longer due to the relaxed lunch on the terrace at Cave Yuccas: afternoon painting can go past 6pm.
The workshop fee is included in the price for the painting holiday described at www.pleinairfrance.com and is paid through the booking form on that website. Holiday director Kate Kilbourne (firstname.lastname@example.org) will answer any questions you may have about the total package: locale, transportation, lodging, food, etc. Of course I'm happy to address any painting questions or concerns through email@example.com.
Participants of the Plein Air France workshop supply their own painting materials, except for thinner, which we'll have on hand.
My workshops are pretty informal and open to improvisation. We meet in the morning at the predetermined location, or somewhere convenient to it; lunch is bring-your-own (except for France); I do plenty of off-the-cuff individual demos or extended explanations, exhortations, etc, as needed. If everyone likes a particular spot, we'll stay there, and if not, we go. It's lots of painting and usually plenty of fun.
There is a materials list below, which is to say the stuff I usually use.
Easel for painting outdoors - examples include:
French easel - I use either one of these or a gloucester easel (particularly good for larger paintings). As far as I can tell, the best french easels currently generally available are made by Mabef.
Soltek easel - a variation on the french box easel; many of my workshop attendees use these.
Pochade box - very compact and convenient option for outdoor painting. Off the top of my head, brands include: Open Box M, EasyL, Guerrilla
A web search will display plenty of other outdoor easels.
Palette - most plein air easels come with a palette. I favor a wooden palette, or, for acrylic, a glass palette.
Rags, paper towels, or kleenex - for wiping brushes, general cleanup.
Something to paint on - stretched canvas, canvas board, primed masonite, primed paper, etc. Panels (masonite or mdf), either commercially prepared or prepared by the artist are what I prefer for smallish paintings. Preparations include: acrylic gesso application, an alkyd or oil ground, canvas glued to the panel. There are other preparations, but these will do fine. Commercially prepared panels are available at any art materials supplier.
Brushes - a selection of a few hog bristle brushes: chiefly a large bright (size 10 or higher), some rounds, filberts, flats - whatever you prefer. I use soft brushes as well, chiefly cheap synthetic watercolor rounds, though they are unnecessary for workshops.
Palette knife - you realize how important this is when you forget to pack it.
Paint thinner - I get what they call "odorless" mineral spirits from the hardware store. Art materials manufacturers make their own versions - touted to be safer, less toxic, etc - Gamsol and Turpenoid are popular varieties. ( If you get it from the hardware store, make sure it's not labelled "green" or "safer"- one of Kleen-Strip's thinners is labelled thus: it seems to contain some percentage of water and will not work for us.) I use the thinner for cleanup; it's perfectly good for use in painting as well, though I go the old-fashioned route and use artists' turpentine in a palette cup for that, chiefly because it feels better to me in the paint. Acrylic painters don't need any thinner but water.
Cans - I clamp (spring clamps) a coffee or soup can on either side of the drawer of my easel; one to hold brushes, the other to hold thinner. I also use spring clamps to hold my palette steady.
Here's a fairly good picture of my french rig, showing cans, palette, clamps, kleenex, etc.
photograph by Oliver Sin
Umbrella - an umbrella that you can attach to your easel is very nice; keeps the sun off of your painting and your palette. However, I have yet to get one that can stand up to more than a lively breeze and so usually do without.
Sketchbook and pencil/charcoal - please bring one.
Trash bag - for your used kleenex or paper towels, miscellaneous rubbish.
Paints - I vary my palette from time to time, but these are the usual colors:
White, cadmium yellow lemon or light, cadmium yellow medium or deep, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, quinacridone red, ultramarine blue, phthalo or prussian blue, sap green, raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre.
The core of this palette is a warm and cool of each of the primary colors, plus a few earth colors and convenience colors. I will be going over use of color, relative warm and cool colors, limited palettes, pigments off the beaten path, tonal values, plus anything else we can think of.
Painting medium - we won't really need anything but thinner for oils, though if you are particularly fond of this or that, by all means bring it along. For acrylics, I like to have some gel or gloss medium handy, but don't find it necessary.
I carry paint and brushes in and under the drawer of the french easel. Everything else I put in a small backpack.