Thursday, October 19, 2006

Plein Air Appurtenances1

Pochade box or half French easel 2
Mahlstick 3
Clam gauge cropping rectangle 4
Dirt and powders mulled with oil of flaxseed: Thalos, quinacridones, dioxazine, ochres and umbers -- from Naples and Sienna, burnt and otherwise -- titanium and cadmiums, manganese, ultramarine and Prussian all crimped tight in tubes. 5
Viva towels 6
Sable filberts and liners, badger and hog bristle implements 7
Brass matching cups fixed up with white spirits 8
Tilley hat 9
Dipteran spray 10
Steel Italian painting knives 11
Scraper Blade 12
Post cards 13
Dog biscuits 14

1Alternate title: Fun with Footnotes. It's also fun to use French. When my wife asks what I'm going to do today I like to say, "I'm painting en plein air." It captures the spirit better than "painting outside."
2I have different sized pochade boxes and portable easels. I'm always trying to find a lighter one that holds more stuff.
3By far and away the number one question I get is, "What is that stick for?" Maybe 9 out of 10 men ask it. Look for an answer in an upcoming post.
4On Cape Cod an artist can go into any hardware store and buy this small aluminum rectangle that has a 1" x 2" window that can be covered with the thumb (I make hash marks at standard proportions) to turn it into a cropping tool that fits on a keychain.
5The synthetic colors and their Latin names show their beginnings in a laboratory. Highly chromatic and with powerful tints they overwhelm the old faithful earth colors named after hometowns where they were sifted from the dirt. "Burnt" colors are just that, turning reddish in the process.
6Forget these and pack up and go home; no other brands compare. Soft and absorbent enough for an infant's spittle.
7The hairs of these brushes mimic the personalities of the various animals.
8Apparently 100% petroleum distillates paint solvent is less toxic than the traditional natural turpentine from the larch tree. After a couple hours it becomes apparent where the term "spirits" came from.
9The other day a tourist said to his wife, "Look at that funny hat." It can be amusing when others think you can't hear them. The Tilley hat is a stiff white cotton safari hat and its rim snaps up on either side. There is a secret panel for a $20 bill.
10I don't need it very often here on the Cape where the sea breeze keeps the mosquitos away.
11There are cheap knives and there are good ones. The former a stiff trowel the latter a thin flexible blade that makes a "ping" when plucked.
12A sharp, flat-sided blade for leveling excessively flamboyant dried brushtstrokes from a painted surface.
13Of my work of course. I count on word of mouth and it's surprising the interest I'll get from onlookers on location. If someone says, "That's good. Maybe you'll be in a gallery one day." I can pull out a card and show that I really can do better than this piece of experimentation that you see before you.
14Carry a few biscuits and you can be the St. Francis for dogs wherever you go.

-Doug Rugh

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