My Set Up for Plein Air Watercolor
The day after Thanksgiving my husband and I had planned to go plein air painting. Little did we know when we woke up it was 43 degrees. That may seem like peanuts to a lot of you but for those of us who have lived in Florida for so long, it seemed a bit chilly. We decide to buck up and bundle up. Once we got out there it was very pleasant, either that or we were so focused we didn’t notice the cold!
Using the palette/tray on the easel with the cover on to do the drawing.
I have had a number of people ask me about this set up I’m using. After consulting a number of watercolor artist friends and doing a lot of research I settled on the En Plein Air Pro Easel. This is the Advanced Series Watercolor Easel. My husband got this for me for my birthday this year and I have been using it mostly for life drawing, sketching the model then adding some watercolor. For this I just bull clip my paper mounted to a piece of gator board to the top portion, paper support of the easel.
Painting with the palette that comes with the easel, cover off and slid under the palette.
The easel comes with a tripod to mount the paper support at the top, a palette with a slide off cover, a collapsible water bucket, and a case for the tripod and duffel bag to put it all in. I won’t go in to too much detail here, you can check it all out on their website. The stool is not included. Instead of hand carrying everything in the duffel bag. I use my market cart with wheels that I drug all over Paris.
It’s all fairly light and sets up in seconds. You can just get a version with a tray that fits on the tripod and not the palette. I thought I would get the palette first and try it. I can always order just the tray later and use it with my lighter weight sketching palette, to lighten things up. I also use the palette with the lid on as a tray, and set my other John Pike Palette on it for life drawing.
What I love about this palette is it has a large mixing area. The water bucket snaps on at the top under the palette and is in a very convenient location. I especially like that the cover slides off the top and then can slide under to give me a little extra room in the front for my brushes. The paper support also has a slide out brush holder, but I prefer to keep brushes on the tray. With the tripod legs extended out from just the bottom, it’s the perfect height for me to sit with my legs under the palette tray. I can also extend them out fully to stand.
There is also a tilt adjustment for the paper support, for those that like to work more horizontally. I was using a watercolor black and didn’t even need to clip it on to the paper support, I just sat it on the lip and it stayed put. I’m very picky when it comes to equipment. It has to feel right for me or I get frustrated. So far I am very happy with this easel! En plein air pro also makes a version for oil painters as well. I also paint in oils and can purchase accessories to turn this set up I already have into an oil painting easel too.
We had a good couple of hours and I feel like I got a good start on this one, so I will probably finish it in the studio!
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