Portability

If I’m going somewhere that I might paint, I don’t want to spend hours packing gear, so I spend more time than I should collecting painting travel packs.  That does not presuppose that I am actually “painting mobile.”  I just have this need to be prepared.  And acrylics do not really make for easy travel sketching.  (I am secretly envious of watercolour artists and that is the one thing that may make me overcome my fear of watercolours.)  Acrylics are more of a plonk and paint situation.

We have a summer place, and I have painted there for many years.  I started doing the doors, because I didn’t want to have plain white or off-white doors.  The summer place is more of a place to play.  I keep my paints in a small suitcase, because we cannot leave them there in the winter.  The heat is turned off, and paints don’t take freezing well.  It is easy to carry about and then you only need your support and your source of water. The compact rolling table and stools were purchased from Canadian Tire many years ago.

But when that kit is at the cabin, what to do when you are travelling from home?  There is no shortage of supplies at my place.  20160712_200452Of the two dark wood French easels, the larger is my daughter’s.  A gift from a previous employer who appreciated her creative and organizational skills.  She is away now, so it is included in my supplies, but I have always been hesitant to use it.  (Not really mine to dirty up.)

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My Daughter’s Easel

The smaller French easel (open below) is mine.  I found it on Kijiji for $25 and quite love it, although I haven’t used it much as I paint at my drafting table most often.20160718_093355

The shopping bag contains a paint box easel and wash caddy, towels and gear.20160718_092822

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It is what I would take when a friend invited me to come to her paint group.  I didn’t stay with them, but it was convenient so I’ve kept it together.  Sometimes I visit my neighbour and we paint together.  (The plastic chocolate box is my wet palette.)

Then there is the blue bag, 20160718_092452which I have put together most recently.
It contains the paints, wash can, cup and boards that I intend to use when I get my act together to Plein Air paint.  I can grab it and my French easel and I’m ready to go.

The organizer holds basic sets of Golden Open paints, Windsor and Newton Artisan water mixable oils, and some cheap watercolours.  All these are things I have been collecting for about a year and I want to try for Plein Air.  My last experience with “partial” Plein Air was impeded by the struggle with drying time.

But that is the subject for another post.

I would love to hear about your experience with being “mobile” with acrylics.

Struggling with Workflow

Does anyone else struggle with workflow?  I so often feel like I’m fighting my paint and supplies and organization.  Do I paint flat on my drafting table, or do I paint on the table easel?  Or do I paint at the French easel?  Do I set the clean brushes to the left  and the paint to the right or vice versa.
Right now the table looks a bit messier
than the photo in20160712_200323 yesterday’s post (which dated from February).  Paint and water to the right of me, and brushes and rags to the left of me.  Light over my left shoulder.  When I paint on paper I tape it to the hard-surfaced placemat, scored at Pipers for $1.
20160712_201109I watch many artists on Youtube and always pay attention to their workflow.  Clive uses large buckets of water, Nagualero uses a small washpot, Cinnamon uses a beer cup, Jane uses a pickle jar.  (There are links to all these people in yesterday’s post.)  I like my brushes clean so I use a jar for prewash and a commercial wash container with two sections for further wash and super clean water.  See – I’m a clean brush fanatic.  And I have a pad of paper towel with an absorbent pad beneath to dry off the brush right away.
 Acrylics carry the challenge of drying quickly, so I’ve tried all sorts of pallettes.
Plain disposable paper pallets. tin foil, peel off acrylic pallettes, wet pallets, well pallettes with paint I have “globalized” according to a method by David Jansen (no I didn’t use their products).  Globalizing has real potential, and is essentially adding a retarder to the paint.  I’ve used home made wet pallettes and commercial ones.  Didn’t find that there was much difference, although the commercial paper that goes in the top of a wet pallette is less prone to wrinkling than wax paper or parchment paper.  None of it really has felt comfortable to me.  I always seem to feel I’m fighting the paints.  Don’t mist and they dry, mist and some get runny.  And all of this results in me wasting time messing with the workflow when I want to be painting.  I just can’t seem to settle.
I would like a pallette where I can globalize my most commonly used paints and keep them stored, and sealed, but have a flat, damp surface so I can blend and add less commonly 20160712_201021used colours.  The watercolour pallette on the left has potential, It is my newest acquisition (thank you 50% off coupon at Michaels).  Perhaps it will be my solution, but it is rather small and the blending surface is smooth but not damp.  I had such hopes for the round well pallette, which was a gift from my husband when I started this journey, but there is no mixing and blending space.  Perhaps some day I’ll design my own with a sealable set of wells (6 – 8) and a wet pallette space all in one.
That’s my grumbling for today.  I would love to hear about your experiences, and your suggestions would be welcome.
Next time, let’s talk about portability.

 

A Year in the Making

It was February, and I was sitting here with my morning coffee, looking at a pile of snow outside and being thankful.
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Teachers may not realize what a creative pursuit their job is, but they are always building lesson plans, creating teaching resources, writing lectures, crafting responses, and presenting those to a captive audience, to whom they must adjust instantly and constantly.  That is creative.  When I retired, that outlet disappeared, and a few months into my retirement I was looking for a new avenue.  I had dabbled in One-Stroke Painting, developed by the generous Donna Dewberry, for many years.  It was something I did with my mother, that gave a form of instant gratification.  But I wanted something more, so I spent some of my new-found time on the internet and discovered Youtube Tutorials!!!
At first I just watched, but one lady caught my eye, and my ear.11037482_10153125320891668_4409469571222735558_n  Her tutorials were detailed and well paced for me, and I had all the materials at hand.  And she was a Newfoundlander!!  Allison Prior made painting a picture so accessible that I just dove in.  The scenes were familiar, from our surroundings, and so my first pictures came to be.  This was my very first from Allison.  Through her I gained the confidence to push on.  I was even lucky enough to have an afternoon with her in person as she lives not far from me.
But there were others out there on Youtube and I continued to explore, finding Clive Powell of Clive5Art  with his many tutorials, tips and tricks to make acrylic painting accessible, and his love of Bob Ross, whom I had been watching since the 80s.  He spends remarkable amounts of time on connecting with his art family, through his many videos and his social media efforts.  Then came Len Hend from Australia, whose style is so loose and free (so different from my tight hand) and in whose online course at OpenLearning I continue to participate.  More recently I’ve watched the work of the Art Sherpa, Ginger Cook, Painting with Jane, and Nagualero.  What all these people have in common is their keen and sincere desire to help others unlock their artistic abilities and video tutorials are fabulous because you can paint along, pausing as needed, or watch repeatedly without trying the patience of the instructor.  And many of them will respond should you have a question.  I know, I’ve done it.  And there is a lovely lady, Shirley, who is half a country away, with whom I correspond privately, who is trying to expand my knowledge of colour theory and fine art methods.
20150820_140305Eventually it is time to move beyond slavishly reproducing the lesson.  That’s where I started, in February 2015, but it’s no longer what I do, and that tells me that I’m growing into my own talent.  I don’t yet think I have a “style” (there is so much out there to be explored) but I am bringing myself to my work now.  And that’s a little daunting.  The horizons (and the amount there is to learn) are endless.

Re – APPEARANCE

I’m amazed at how much time has passed.  I have always been inconsistent in journalling, so it was not unexpected.  Work, other creative pursuits, familial responsibilities, all filled my time and I thoroughly enjoyed them.  Now work has dropped off that list, and I find myself with more time to explore art, and drama, and music, and reading.  So here is to a the appreciation of aesthetics.

Römischer Weg

Today we visited a very special German city, Trier.  My first introduction to the town was when I was a teenager.  Germany had not yet realized the aesthetic value of the Roman ruins that were being excavated and you could walk through the rubble of the archaeologists’ finds.  It wasn’t pretty…you didn’t pay entry fees…it hadn’t become a tourist attraction.  20 years later I brought my husband to experience the city.  The streets were no longer torn up, and the ruins were better groomed, but it was still more of a pilgrimage than a sightseeing tour.  We ran from Porta Nigra to Basilika in the rain…without a tour map, depending on the helpfulness of strangers in the street to direct us.  Today, about 15 years later, there are entry fees for everything, tour booklets in multiple languages, and a museum with multiple guards per floor.  2000 year old structures have weathered time, weather, siege and world war.  Yet among the pockmarked stones thousands of thoughtless people have scrawled names, initials, symbols, showing no respect for the global treasures they are defacing.   If you ever find yourself in the Mosel Valley, make your way to the city that was once on par with Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople.

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Porta Nigra - One of 4 gates on the 6.5 km long city wall. The only one still standing.

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View up the 3 levels from inside.

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Along the corridors defenders could repel any attack.

After the Romans had left the city, the Porta Nigra was reincarnated as a church; rebuilt on at least two occasions.  Today it has been returned to a more original state, although the rounded end that would have been the nave of the church remains.

Through the windows of the Porta you can see the countryside, the city, and the Dom.

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Across the river

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The Dom with the Liebfrauen Kirche next to it.

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View into the city from the 3rd level of the Porta. I wonder what a centurion would think to see this?

Walking into the Altstadt we arrived first at the Dom (cathedral). This structure, started 1000 years ago, lies on the foundations of Roman buildings dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries (anno domini). Beautifully appointed inside, with vaulted and carved ceilings and imposing memorials and altars, the Dom houses the Shroud of Turin, which is exposed for view only about every 10 years. Whatever your beliefs, it is an impressive and solemn monument. The Dom museum houses codex & book covers from the early middle ages, carvings from even earlier, and reliquaries from holy men and women, including St. Peter and St. Andrew. Next door is the Liebfrauen Kirche, completely different in style – light and airy.

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Reliquary of the chains of St. Peter

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Reliquary of the sandal of St. Andrew.

Also now used as a church, the Imperial Palace, built by Constantius, and later taken over by Constantine the Great is now the Protestant Basilika. The giant audience hall has had numerous incarnations; as a royal residence, a bishop’s residence, a fortress,
and a courtyard.

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Massive in size, the rubble of centuries has raised the level of the ground around the Basilika.

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The inside space is immense. Can you imagine walking up its length to bring your complaint to Constantine?


Hygiene was of great importance in Roman times, and Constantine had a great plan for the Imperial Baths. While it never came to fruition, most of the structure was completed and then repurposed. There were aqueducts and heating mechanisms, and underground hallways for servants.
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This is only about a third of the structure, which continues off to the right, and is still being excavated.

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A sense of the height. Courses of varying coloured stones were laid, to decorate the building.


That brings us to the Amphitheatre. The location for animal fights, gladiators and executions, the amphitheatre formed part of the city wall, and its entrance was one of the gates.
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This picture, taken from the upper level of seats, gives a sense of how large the arena is.


OK…so I have a new favourite word. The entrances into the seats were called vormitoria
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Love the funnel shape of the Vormitoria...pour them in...vomit them out!

Here it is…the required panorama. What the Christian saw before the lion was upon him.

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Here kitty, kitty.


Below the arena floor are a series of rooms and drains that housed animals and the condemned, and from which each could be brought into the center.
And if you are around Trier in the summer time, the gladiators still compete in the Amphitheatre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Sounds like a rollicking good time to me.

Schritt in Meiner Fergangenheit

So you may have noticed that there has been nothing from me for a while.  Or, what is more likely, your lives have been so busy, and My Musings are such a recent part of it, that my absence hasn’t impinged on your consciousness yet.  I’ve had little time to follow the WordPress world either. 
The title of this piece probably gave a few hints.  My heritage is German, and we are visiting family, and taking the time to see some places special in my memory.  I’ve been visiting here since I was a small child.  Slowly my German family has winnowed down to 3 aunts and a handfull of more distant relations and I don’t know that I will be coming here for much longer. 
We are Rheinisch…so people of song, humour, and more than a little good wine.  Ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit; and here are a few shots from my tablet. Not the greatest quality, but a good record, none-the-less.

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Bismark Tower at Waldeck bei Ingelheim

The attraction here isn’t the tower, as impressive as it is, but the 4 tigers at the neighbouring Pension and Gaststaette, 2 of which were bred and raised here. 

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Join me in the pool?

There are rabbits and finches and peacocks also, and sometimes goats.
The first part of the trip was spent near Mainz, so you need a shot of the river, and of the Markt at the Dom.  If you ever go, be sure to visit the Dom Cafe for wonderful kuchen.  And the fleischwurst is good too.

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Rheinallee


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Markt am Dom

Took some time to visit the Frankfurt Zoo too.  The remarkable thing about this zoo is not really its animal collection, but the success it has had with its various breeding programs and that it sits deep in the heart of a big city, yet is accessible and quiet.

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Johnny, Johnny, John come along, come along. There are monkeys in the garden sitting in the sun.


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Are you lookin' at me?


Sometimes art can be found in the most unexpected places. Like the dining table at my aunt’s seniors home.
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Wonderful Watermelon

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Wonderful from all sides.

And then it was time to follow the Rhein north to my parents’ home town. (Yes, I know it’s Rhine in English. That’s only for you uninitiated.) So if you are driving along the Rhein there must be castles.

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Die Pfaltz.


Don’t try passing here without paying toll in the Middle Ages!
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Imposing!


Can you imagine the hours of sweat and blood that went into constructing one of these fortresses?

And there must be vineyards!

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Terasses of wine vines along the Rhine.

So now we’ve reached the favourite home of Kaiserin Augusta and Kaiser Wilhelm. The Confluenza of two most important rivers, once ruled by the Roman Empire, and a city full of surprises. I’ll leave you with a few last pictures and hope you’ll visit again for another installment.

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Kaiser Wilhelm am Deutsches Eck


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Panorama of the Schloss.


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Wobble Wall

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Careful!!! He spits!

Small Pleasures

For so many of you, the spring has advanced to summer.  I sit here looking out at 4 degree Celsius, and the threat of ice pellets and snow.  That after a week or more of wonderful weather that has popped the buds and hatched the flies.  Little stalwart flowers have made our spring bearable.  We must be grateful for small pleasures.

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 Sorry I’ve not much time to tell a story today.