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Friday, April 27, 2007

My Paintbox and Setup

Last weekend was the first really nice, warm weekend around here in a long time, and I was able to get outside to do some painting on location. My winter paintings are done mostly from photos, so it was nice to get back outdoors again. I painted along the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath near Griggstown, NJ.

Here are some photos that illustrate my setup:

Here you can see that I found the only shady spot in which to setup. In summer there are a lot of shadows to hide under but when the trees are bare, you can really roast in the sun! Also, it's very hard to paint with the sun shining directly on the canvas and palette. It tends to blind you a bit and makes it very hard to accurately see the colors you're mixing.

This gives a little better view of my setup: it's a home made wooden paintbox which has room for my tubes of paint in the main body, and I can carry 2 8x10 panels in the lid of the box. Which is important because it's hard to carry wet oil paintings around in the field. But stored in the lid of the paintbox, there's nothing to worry about. My paintbox mounts on an ordinary camera tripod, and disassembled, the tripod, paintbox, brushes and other supplies all fit in the little knapsack lying on the ground. With that on my back, I can easily walk for miles to my painting location.

I wanted to show this closeup so you can see that my colors match the actual scene fairly well. The photo of the finished painting below was done under artificial lights, and looks very different from the photo done outdoors. I think both are accurate, it's just that a painting does look very different depending on the lighting.

"Towpath, Early April"
8x10 oil on canvas on board

On my walk back, I saw this little guy crawling along the towpath. It was just about an inch and a half long - you can see an ant on the turtle's back for scale.


  1. I've always wondered what kind of setup is used for painting from life. It must feel very freeing to be able to go wherever you want and just capture a scene in a painting.


  2. It is a nice feeling when I can walk around somewhere and then setup to paint where I like. But it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes the simplest things get in the way, like finding a place where I can legally and safely park my car, that's not too far from where I want to paint. Busy roads, lack of roads, private property... there are a lot of things that prevent me from getting to some places I would like to paint!


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