James McGrew Plein Air Workshop Materials List
Since this course is about nature as much as it is about painting, I will be flexible in your choices for materials. I offer demonstrations in oils but you may choose another medium (acrylics or gouache/watercolor, temper, pastels, etc). I encourage use of oils for many reasons including: environmental and personal health, permanence, versatility in working properties, and better salability of your finished work. In addition, with oils you can actually paint in the rain or mist of waterfalls. Recommended items:
PAINTING SUPPORT/MATERIAL STORAGE:
I have used many supports, but for years have preferred my pochades made by OpenBox M (1800 473- 8098 or www.OpenBoxM.com). Its a durable, lightweight, excellent design manufactured in Wyoming by a company that really surprised me with exceptional customer service. For long distance backpacking, I use the open box M. 8×10. For larger paintings I use the 12×16 and for mid sized paintings, the 10×12. I use Gitzo carbon fiber tripods with quick release plates attached to each of my camera bodies and pochade boxes for rapid switching between units.
BACKPACK OR BAG: fit your supplies and easel in easy to carry bag(s) backpack.
PALETTE: wood or safe glass palette usually provided with an easel and built into pochades.
Colors is a personal choice so you may use whatever you’re comfortable with and own. My recommendations and my usual palette includes the following: Minimum: Ultramarine blue, either manganese blue hue or cerulean blue hue, cad yellow lt, cad yellow dp., yellow ochre, cad red lt, alizarine (or athraquinone or quinacridone), transparent earth yellow, transparent earth red, titanium white or Ti/Zn mix white.
Additional colors that are often useful (but not required): cad orange, cad yellow, cobalt blue, burnt sienna (and pthalo green if you promise to never add white/opaque colors to it or use it to paint anything green).
Buy artists grade paints if you can. Avoid economy or student paints. In addition, inexpensive paints are often more toxic than chemically pure pigments in quality brands. Any of the following paint brands work well and each behaves uniquely: M.Graham, Gamblin, Vasari, Old Holland, Winsor & Newton, Blocks, Holbein, Utrecht, Maimeri Puro, Sennelier, Williamsburg, LeFranc & Bourgeois, Rembrandt. If you are purchasing oil paints for the first time, you may wish to contact me for advice. For plein air painting, I use M.Graham almost exclusively. They’re a small company made in Oregon that produce exceptionally high quality, heavily pigmented, durable, slow drying, brilliant paints. The owners care about artists and the environment.
SOLVENT: turpentine, mineral spirits etc: I prefer Gamblin Gamsol its the least toxic and least flammable of the major brands. (I don’t require a solvent). Do not fly with solvents on commercial aircraft.
OIL: such as walnut or linseed oil. For clean up and brush washing, I prefer oil rather than solvents. You might want a squeezable tube to add clean oil in drops as well as a small palette cup of clean oil. A larger container filled with oil is great for washing brushes.
CLEANUP AND PROTECTION: Old tshirt or paper towels for wiping brushes. Produce bags for trash storage. Gloves keep paint off skin (vinyl, latex, nitrile, etc from the hardware or art store).
BRUSHES: Assortment of any good quality bristle brushes ranging from #6#10 flats and a couple #6#10 filberts. For fine detail and crisp edges, I use Rosemary and Co. mongoose long flats in the same sizes.
PAINT KNIFE: for mixing paint and modifying paint on the canvas
PAINTING PANELS: You may use any good quality painting panel I prefer fine oil primed linen mounted on gatorboard or birch ply. Always have a handful of panels ranging from 6×8 11×14. I often paint up to 16×20 but you should only bring a larger panel if you feel extremely confident in your painting skills and abilities to complete a painting in less than two hours. I prefer New Traditions Art Panels.
WET PAINTING STORAGE: some french easels and pochades offer builtin capabilities for storing wet paintings. Many commercial wet painting carriers also exist, or you can easily make your own.
CAMERA: For immediate feedback, bring a digital camera. Most plein air landscape painters naturally tend to compose a scene roughly between about 35mm and 70mm focal lengths (in terms of full frame 35mm photography).
PERSONAL PROTECTION/CLOTHING: Hat, sunscreen, insect repellant, water bottle, some sort of rain gear, dark shirt or apron that won’t reflect sunlight onto your painting.
A few recommendations on materials:
1) ALWAYS buy the best materials you can afford especially paints and substrate. This does not mean the most expensive, just be sure its professional quality. You do get what you pay for with artitst’s materials.
2) keep your materials as simple and convenient as possible easily packed into one bag/box/easel, etc. No palette knives in carryon luggage. If questioned by security, say that you are carrying vegetable based artists supplies rather than “oil paints.” Though I’ve never had a problem.
If you have any questions regarding materials, please ask me in advance.
Some useful online art supply resources:
www.mgraham.com Walnut based Oil paints, solventfree mediums (My favorite paint)
www.gamblincolors.com Linseed based Oil paints, mediums, low toxic solvent, & info.
www.vasaricolors.com Handmade linseed oil paints and traditional mediums.
www.OpenBoxM.com the finest pochade boxes and wet panel carriers I have found as well as a wide selection of plein air supplies/accessories.
www.dickblick.com wide range of supplies on line or in stores of major cities.
www.utrecht.com wide range of supplies at good prices.
www.raymarart.com Panels and carriers.
www.canvaspanels.com high quality panels, brushes, paints.
www.newtraditionsartpanels.com Diverse range of top quality panels (my choice)
www.artisteaselplans.com Plans to build your own pochade box or easel.
www.rosemaryandco.com/oilbrushes/masterschoiceoils (best brushes on Earth when it comes to precision and subtle work.)