Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oak Lake Art Center

During a recent phone conversation I had the pleasure to speak with Ed White, a former pro football player and Executive Director of the Oak Lake Art Center in California, and had the chance to hear a little about what they are doing at the Center. The Oak Lake Art Center’s goal is to provide art as a complementary medical healing tool to healthcare providers. The Center also offers programs to help artists get back to nature. They have programs that include hands-on workshops, didactic lectures, and interactive discussions. Ed was discussing the possibility of incorporating Plein Air painting as a healing tool into the Center. It’s wonderful that art can be an enjoyable pastime and an instrument to heal as well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Brush Cleaning Tips

  • Don't let your brushes soak in solvent, it can seep into the ferrule and weaken the glue holding the bristles in place.

  • Don't strike your paint brushes against a surface. Striking the brushes can damage the ferrule and cause bristles to fall out.

  • For hardened paint on brushes, clean by soaking in a pot of distilled vinegar for an hour, then proceed to bring the pot of vinegar to a simmer until the brushes are clean. Rinse brushes in warm water afterwards.

  • Never allow a brush to stand or be stored standing on its tip. The tip will become malformed.

  • For a malformed brush tip: soak the clean tip in brush conditioner, shape the tip and wrap in butcher paper overnight to hold the shape. The tip should be reformed by morning.

  • Synthetic bristles can be restored by placing the brish in hot, but not boiling, water. Be aware that nylong bristles can dissolve in such solvents as acetone.

  • Watercolor brushes need to be washed in gentle soap and warm (not hot) water. Anything you would feel comfortable washing your own hair with is good enough to use for your watercolor brushes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Alicia's ThumBox™

A few days ago I was asked which size Guerrilla Painter® pochade box I use and why. I get this question a lot. I guess choosing between the 9x12 and the 6x8 isn’t so easy. Many of you know I actually have both sizes. Today I want to give y’all a peak at my 6x8 ThumBox™… and at the same time an unplanned glimpse into my own artist/pack rat insanity.

It all started in January of 2008. I started falling in love with the display 6x8 ThumBox™ here in the office. It was so little and cute. I already had my 9x12 and was using it often enough. I really had no business getting another pochade box and yet it was only a few weeks later that I took home my own little ThumBox™ for oil painting. I immediately began dreaming up plans so that I could get everything I needed and more to fit in this bitty pochade box. I had no trouble at all getting everything into my 9x12, but the ThumBox™ was a whole different ball game. Monica kept telling me to keep it simple – that was the point – limiting yourself. However, I was determined to complicate it right up. I got the palette extension… and then cut a hole in it for my Mighty Mite. One Mighty Mite wasn’t enough so I got one of each size. I went into my local framing store and had a piece of Plexiglas cut to fit on top of my wood palette and glued that in there for my palette**. I sewed a small pouch for my paint tubes to live in and it hangs off of the front of my box. When I’m plein air painting, I like to have access to my tubes. Monica suggests squeezing the paint onto the palette before you go out and leaving the tubes at home, but where’s the fun in that? I pack more paint than I need, over 15 short handled brushes, a few palette knives, two Mighty Mites, and sometimes even a painty rag under the palette.

I was so proud of my stuffed little modified box that I was taking it out to paint whenever I got the chance just to show it off. 6x8 panels got to be too easy so I got the Slip-In Easel and began painting on 8x10s. The slip-in easel lives inside my box lid since my 8x10s won’t fit in there – the paintings live in Handy Porters™, which I carry separately. My micro mini fold up stool is small enough that it gets strapped onto the outside of the box when not in use. The lightweight tripod (aside from the wet painting carrier) is the only thing I couldn’t figure out how to get inside or strapped onto the outside of the box.

I love both of my boxes like children, but the ThumBox™ is definitely the baby of the family and it gets to go on all of my vacations with me. My 9x12 stills makes it out with me on occasion and it definitely looks a lot more organized on the inside. With all my stuff… er, uh, necessary supplies, they weigh about the same in the end.

**The Plexiglas palette (don’t use ordinary glass – it’s dangerous because it can break) is something I couldn’t live without as an oil painter. I used an epoxy glue to attach the Plexiglas to the wood and after seven months or so it broke apart and came loose. I glued it back on there with hot glue and that lasted for a little while (I think the mineral spirits destroy any glue after a while and it’s always going to come loose). I can also recommend the Poly Pro Palettes we sell, which work well as a substitute for the wood palette.

-by Alicia

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Staying Warm

Winter seems to have finally set in here in Colorado, and with the exception of artists living or traveling in warm climates during the winter, staying warm is a major issue when plein air painting. Below is a great article by Aaron Holland on how to dress when the temperature drops. Aaron currently resides in Wisconsin, where he doesn't let the cold stop him from getting outdoors and painting.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tips for Tripods

When using a tripod for painting plein air with a pochade box, use the legs - not the head - to level your box. Start by really tightening all the head adjusting knobs, then set up the tripod and attach the box. Now adjust the legs for angle and length to level the box.

When installing a quick release plate, install it at an angle rather than square with the tripod mount. This will intrease the stability of the pochade box on the tripod and will reduce the tendency wobble.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why Use Canvas Panels Instead of Stretched Canvases?

Stretched canvas has its advantages for larger paintings because of its light weight. For smaller plein air paintings stretched canvases offer some disadvantages:

  • They are bulky, subject to damage and heavier than most panels of the same size.

  • Additionally, a stretched canvas is in contact along its edges with the wood stretcher bar, which are very high in acid, and the canvas becomes seriously weakened over time wehre it is in contact with the wood.

  • Paintings on stretched canvas eventually require restoration that usually results in mounting on a ridgid panel- so why not start out with a panel anyway?

Panels are an excellent choice for pocade boxes because they are so thin - you can carry up to 4 panels in our 6x8 ThumBox™ and 9x12 Guerrilla Box™, while you can only carry one stretched canvas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tips for Painting Foliage

For some, painting foliage can be a very difficult endeavor. When plein air painting, it's practically impossible to ignore the trees and brush in the area; so understanding the basics is very important. Here is a nice link for those who would like to learn a few tricks about painting foliage. It is done with watercolor, but the techniques can easily be used by acrylic and oil painters as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Website

We are happy to announce the launch of our new website – we have happily moved on into the 21st century, and know you will find the new website a snap to navigate and enjoyable to use. Our new link-rich homepage will help simplify your selection of Guerrilla Painter® pochade boxes and accessories. You can browse through all of our items using the various methods on the right side bar, or search for a specific item. We are also pleased to introduce the “my account” feature to help you manage your orders.

Now on you will be able to purchase and redeem gift certificates online. This means that you no longer need to call us just to use your coupon or gift certificate (although we always love to talk to you). We will also offer all the great features from the old website as well; such as being able to choose between paying on the site or via PayPal, requesting a Catalog, links to find local dealers, and so forth.

We would love any feedback, suggestions, or questions to make our new plein air website more useful and enjoyable for you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Guerrilla Box™

"My son just bought me a 9x12 Guerrilla Painter­® [box]. I've just completed my 2nd 9x12 painting and I can't tell you how much I enjoy using this pochade. Everything is so well thought out. This box has what no other box has, space to carry enough supplies for a week. All I need now is Mighty Mite brush washer and one of your good tripods and adapters for 8x10 and 6x8 panels. Also an umbrella kit. Once I get these I think I will be retiring my [old pochade box]. Thanks again for a wonderful product."

-Bill, Conneticut

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter Plein Air

As the weather gets colder, some like to take advantage of unseasonably nice days and take the chance to get outside and paint. Michael Chesley Johnson did just this last winter right after picking up our ThumBox™. Check out this link to his blog to see what he had to say about his experience:

Monday, November 17, 2008

If You Aren't Already Painting Outdoors and When You Travel...


Painting outdoors (en plein air) - what could be more rewarding than to keep a journal or add to a scrapbook with your own painted illustrations done on the spot? Or how about hand painted post cards done on your travels to send to your family and friends? Or, if you don't sell them first, your paintings will become treasured family heirlooms to be passed down to future generations.

But above all, there isn't anything like seeing the world through the eyes of a plein air painter.
  • Everything you look at becomes more interesting - you'll see so many details you never noticed before.

  • Every color is richer and more vivid - you'll discover colors you never imagined.

In the 19th and 20th centuries many people considered painting outdoors from nature one of the essential pursuits of a well rounded person - no wonder, because there is no better way to achieve intimacy with nature and the world around you. Today outdoor (plein air) painting is experiencing a renaissance among people looking for a rewarding and contemplative way to enjoy the outdoors and deepen their appreciation of nature. Men and women alike report painting out in nature to be deeply satisfying. What a wonderful outdoor activity to be enjoyed alone of with like-minded companions, your partner or spouse!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jamie Williams Grossman

It's great to see the variety of ways artists set up and use our pochade boxes for painting or drawing. Jamie Williams Grossman, a New York artist, gives us a peek at her ThumBox™ setup on her website and shares a bit about her favorite tree she painted with it.

Jamie is a Signature Member of New York Plein Air Painters (NYPAP). She serves on the NYPAP Advisory Board and also as the head of their Lower Hudson Valley Chapter. Jamie has taught oil and acrylic painting at Putnam Arts Council. Her paintings have been featured in USA Weekend, The Journal News, Plein Air Magazine (twice), Putnam County News and Recorder, the Catskill Region Guide, Poughkeepsie Journal, and Bedford Record Review. Jamie paints mostly in oils and acrylics, but frequently uses other mediums such as pastel, gouache, watercolor and casein. She nearly always paints from life, with subjects ranging from portraits, homes and figures, to animals, landscapes and still life. Plein air landscapes are her favorite subjects (especially the Hudson River), and she has exhibited in galleries in many areas of New York State and Connecticut.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lascaux 498HV 2-Way Reversible Acrylic Adhesive Price Increases

Lascaux 498HV, made in Switzerland, is the best. It is widely used in museum conservation work. It is similar to acrylic gel medium in working properties and cleans up easily with water. Once dry it can be reversed or reactivated with Xylene, a medium strength solvent. It can be used in its aqueous form as a regular adhesive, or when moisture is undesirable (such as with some oil primed canvases) it can be reactivated to make a moisture free bond.

We love the stuff and our customers agree. Some of you have already noticed that we no longer carry 498HV in 16oz or 32oz sizes, but only in one-liter size instead (1 liter = 33.814 ounces). The 1 liter bottle is more expensive than the 32oz bottle was and you probably want to know why.

We brought in our last order of 498HV three years ago when it was less expensive. Also we got it in five-liter buckets and we did the repackaging in 16 and 32 oz containers ourselves. Our most recent purchase is at the current higher price and in 1-liter packages that the supplier produces.

This leaves many of you looking for something else to use for making your own canvas panels. Well, of course, we have another option: Miracle Muck.

Miracle Muck EVA Reversible Adhesive is a less expensive alternative. It is non-yellowing and can be reactivated with heat (read: hair dryer). It forms a solid bond and works extremely well for attaching canvas to board. It cleans up nicely with warm water. It is low-acid but not acid free.

Yet another option is Yes!Paste. Widely used by artists for years, it is falling into disfavor because it is not fully archival. We will be discontinuing it, but still have some on our shelves – but not for long.

We will continue to carry 498HV because we know it’s the best and we think it’s worth every penny.

-by Alicia

What Happened to the Good Ol' 12x16 Guerrilla Box™?

Many of you remember that not too long ago we were carrying a 12x16 Guerrilla Box™ (seen here in use by Shaun Horne in Canyonlands, Utah), and now we have painters wondering what happened to it. Guerrilla Painter® discontinued the 12x16 size last spring and will not be making them again. The 12x16 pochade box looked and functioned much like the 9x12 Guerrilla Box™. It was bigger and heavier and had almost an obscene amount of room for artists to pack their supplies under the slide out palette. For most people it was just too much. However, as you might have guessed, once it was discontinued we had a rush of people who suddenly realized they couldn’t paint without it. Well if you’re one of those folks that won’t be satisfied until you get your hands on a 12x16 Guerrilla Box™, we do have a few available as “seconds” boxes (second meaning cosmetically blemished, but 100% functional) for $149.99, 25% off the retail price. We have about a dozen left in our warehouse. These boxes aren’t for sale on our website – you have to call to get your hands on one. If you have any questions, or are interested in the 12x16 seconds, please feel free to email or call toll free 866-762-4233.

by Alicia

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Edward B. Gordon

A German artist named Edward B. Gordon contacted us after receiving our Guerrilla Box to let us know how much he loves it and made comment about it on his blog

Most artists will agree that you need to devote at least 30 minutes a day to creating some kind of art. This can be a small sketch, a finished painting, or a preparation for a future artwork. Edward turned this idea into a daily blog in November of 2006, which has now has turned into a wonderful showcase of the progression of his painting over the last two years
"When I started this A Painting A Day blog, inspired by Duane Keiser, in November 2006, I thought I give myself half a year to produce every day a small painting. 600 daily paintings later I am still at it. To paint and finish every day a small painting for this blog, has become part of my everyday life. I would not miss it for anything in the world, that daily exercise. This blog has become my diary – a painted diary. Some of those daily paintings will be sketches used later for larger works, some will just remain a reflection of a moment of the day." - Edward B. Gordon

Monday, November 10, 2008

Backpacker Painting: Outdoors with Oil & Pastel

For those looking for some excellent reading on Plein Air painting, Michael Chesley Johnson has written a new book entitled Backpacker Painting: Outdoors with Oil & Pastel. 12 demonstrations, 72 paintings and 125 illustrations pack this 164-page paperback. To order the book and for more information, please visit the "Books" page of Michael's webiste:

There will also be a companion DVD that will be completed in the next few months.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Remembering Stanley Sporny

At the end of last month, Stanley Sporny unexpectedly passed away while walking in the woods. An accomplished artist, Sporny earned a BFA in painting at the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA at the Philadelphia College of Art. As a Fulbright Scholar, he moved to Sri Lanka for nine years where he skillfully entwined the rich sights and sounds of the area into his artwork. For nearly two decades he has inspired students through his teaching at Marshall University's College of Fine Arts in Huntington, West Virginia. Over the years he has designed and given life to a number of murals along with the aid of his students and his paintings can be seen in prestigious galleries and private collections throughout the nation.

Sporny was a teacher, a mentor, an inventor, a musician, an entrepreneur and a true visionary. He also developed a line of non-toxic mediums and solvents for oil painting, The Sporny Solution, which we have sold for many years. His death is mourned by the staff at Judsons Art Outfitters as well as many in the art community.

His family has set up a memorial website for those who wish to share their memories about Stanley Sporny.