Portable Painter Watercolor Palette

The opening photograph for this blog post was stolen from the Portable Painter website.  I hope they don’t mind.  It shows my new toy, but before I put paint into it.  It also shows the 12 half-pans that come with the palette that makes it very quick and easy to get started using it.

Steve Padden (designer) launched this product as an Indigogo project (like Kickstarter) and I ordered one immediately.  The Portable Painter website has a great video and I encourage you to watch it if you’re even a little bit interested in moving your paint on location.

This is what mine looks like once I put paint into it.  The half-pans that come with the Portable Painter fit loosely into their compartments and because of this I felt it necessary to anchor them in the box so they didn’t fall out if I turned the palette upside down.  I used little bits of double-sided tape for this and that seems to work well and because it’s so thin, it allows the half-pans to sit well in the case.

Normally I don’t talk about products I haven’t actually used on location but “use” when it comes to a half-pan palette is more about set up and take down than about actually using it for painting so I feel a bit more on solid ground here.  Sliding the two water containers off the case and clipping them to the ends is very quick and easy, as is reversing the procedure.  The mixing areas are similiar to others I’ve used.  I’ll take a brite-boy to those before actual use but they look great and provide about twice the mixing area of the Cotman Sketcher palette.   The one thing I would have liked to see is a place to put the metal clip while you’re painting.  It becomes an odd-man-out while you’re painting.

While I haven’t actually painted from it, I did drape it across my leg as shown in the video and that works very well.  Right now my water comes from a small bottle I hold in my hand so the two water reservoirs will be a nice improvement.  The kit should also work really well if I’m working on a flat surface as it’s quite stable with the reservoirs as feet.

Those of you who use the Cotman Sketcher palette, and there are a lot of you, this is a major improvement because of the water reservoirs and larger mixing areas.  This comes at almost no size or weight costs.  Here are photos comparing the Cotman Sketcher to the Portable Painter, with and without the water containers attached.

I’m not sure about current pricing of this item.  While its retail price is $30, it looks like you are still be able to buy it at a discount from the Indigogo launch site like I did.  The Portable Painter website will direct you there so if you’re interested, now is the time.

Sketching Animals That Don’t Move

What could be better for a sketcher than a place where there are hundreds of animals that don’t move.  Daniel Chagnon, an organizer for the Le Collectif des ateliers libres en arts visuels de Québec (CALAVQ) organized an event at la Fédération québécoise
​des chasseurs et pêcheurs.  This is a bit outside the domain of CALAVQ, which is primarily a portraiture group, but Daniel has been organizing more and more of these events and it’s very exciting to see.

I didn’t know that the Quebec hunters and fishermen had a museum/training center but this place is incredible for those of us scrambling to find winter sketching places.  It’s a bit of a drive but access is free, though they appreciate donations.  There is a lunch room with microwaves, vending machines, etc. AND several hundred taxidermy specimens just waiting to be drawn.  The hard part was deciding what to draw and being satisfied even though you didn’t get to draw everything.

There were a dozen of us sketching in the building and a lot of sketches were produced.  I found myself drawing too quickly and I was a bit disappointed in that.  I sometimes get ahead of my skis and it shows up in the results.  My attempt at drawing a wolf is a case in point.  I blocked it in quickly (ie too quickly and I got one foot in the wrong place.  I drew the eye incorrectly, tried to correct it, only making it worse.  Still, it looked like a wolf, sort of.  You might notice that it’s not displayed here 🙂

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), PLatinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I moved onto the wildfowl area and drew this elegant bufflehead.  Here I bumped into my watercolor ineptitude and had trouble obtaining a really dark black, but I was generally happy with the result.  Robert Bateman I am not.

After lunch I decided that since I’d drawn fur and feathers that it was time to draw a fish.  I like the small vignette surrounding this one.   Striped bass used to be common to the stretch of the St. Lawrence River around Quebec but they had nearly disappeared until the fishing and hunting organization started a program to build up their populations.  They are being grown and planted along the river and fishing regulations prohibit the taking of this fish.  From what I could read, the program is making good progress towards their reintroduction.

I slowed down just a bit, partly because of my early morning lesson and partly because I was just getting tired.  I think the result was more in tune with my norm…only a few mistakes (grin).  Thanks to CALAVQ and particularly Daniel for organizing this event and introducing us to the museum.  We’re heading back here on Tuesday.

 

Our Tuesday Group Hosted By Hubert Langevin

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I’m really behind in my posting but this event is so old that it’s starting to show up in the history books.  Way back when, about a week and a half ago, Hubert Langevin invited us to sketch at his house.  As a  big storm was predicted and we got to watch the snow going sideways through the large windows of his house as we drew objects Hubert had placed around for that purpose.  There were seven of us and we spent the day sketching, laughing and eating marvelous vegetable soup and fresh bread.  Lisette brought date bars for dessert.

I started sketching this smallish (15-20cm) clay woman.  She was so cute, even though she lacked a face.   Then I watched the snow fall, talked with everyone too much (I must drive them crazy) and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Then I sat down to draw a set of teacups set out as a still life.  We broke for lunch and then, with belly full, I returned to sketching tea cups, spoons and napkins.  My intent was to simply do a shaded contour drawing but somehow I got dragged down the rabbit hole of drawing all the decorations on the cups.  This was a lot of fun and not nearly as hard as one would suppose.  I hope you like it.  Thanks to Hubert for hosting us.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5), Platinum 3776, Platinun Carbon Black

February Croquistes De Quebec Sketchcrawl

Our next sketchcrawl should be a lot of fun.  It will also be warm, something that’s hard for us to achieve during the Quebec winter.  Yvan has arranged for us to gather at the Artothèque de la bibliothèque Gabrielle Roy.  This is the art collection owned by the Quebec library system.  They have agreed to host us, provide a room, and maybe even some easels to hold art while we draw from it.  We’ll meet on Sunday, February 12th at 9:30 on the second floor of the Gabrielle-Roy library.  You can get details on the Croquistes de Quebec website.

Yvan and I went there last week to see how things would work out and we had a ball.  Drawing from the work of other artists is a time-honored way of learning and I do it a lot, mostly by drawing pieces of sketches of sketches I like in an attempt to understand how the artist made the marks and what they were thinking when they did it.

On this day, however, I hopped a train to fantasyland.  Instead of my normal fountain pen tool, I picked up a brush.  I did a watercolor portrait, based upon a painting by Marie Leberge.  The work itself violated my detail-oriented approach and certainly, my lack of skill with watercolor and brush showed through.  Even so, I had a ball doing it and learned a lot.  I sure missed my pen, though (grin).  Anyways, be at this sketchcrawl.  We’ll have fun.

7.5×11 Fabriano Artistico CP, Daniel Smith watercolors, based upon portrait by Marie Lepage

 

 

Sketchcrawling With USK Montreal

I’m going to keep this short because we’re experiencing really low barometric pressure which is giving me a horrible arthritis attack in my knees and hands.  I’ll also apologize for the typos because my typing is being affected…bigly.

But last Sunday I was in heaven.  I met Marc Holmes for coffee before the event and when we arrived at the Pointe-à-Callière museum there were 30 or so sketchers waiting for the place to open.  The goal for the day was to sketch the Asian exhibition and it was a doozy.

The exhibit is on two floors and I probably should have made a quick run around to inventory things but I just started sketching these small clay figures.  They were simple, crude, and I managed to make them even more so when I went out in hall and tried to paint them while standing.  I was at least a couple of hands short for that exercise.

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon

I did those quickly, all the time thinking of heading upstairs in search of something better to draw.  The second floor had one display of larger statues, a bunch of pottery, kimonos, and a couple samurai suits.  I decided to draw a couple of the larger statue artifacts.  Those were fun but I really hope that some day I’ll get better at drawing while standing.

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon

The area around the samurai suits was pretty crowded so I decided to draw a piece of pottery.  Then I went outside and found Marc creating a masterpiece.  Watching work with watercolors is always a treat.  I never did add color to my pottery.

We only had 20 minutes left so we went back in and I decided to take that time to read about some of the smaller pieces which were at the other end of the first-floor room from where I had done my first page.  That’s when I saw it… a large door into yet another room.  Dare I say this was where thek really good stuff was?  Large buddah’s statues of all sorts, large busts of Asian characters.  Wow…and me with only a few minutes left before we were to rendevous for lunch and show-n-tell.  I quickly drew one of the heads, using pencil this time.  Yet another skill I need to work on.

We met for lunch and passed sketchbooks around.  USK Montreal has a lot of talented people among its ranks and it was fun seeing their results.  This day was pretty special to me and I hope to return for some of their future sketchcrawls.  Thanks, Marc, for organizing the event.