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There will be color hors d’oeuvres and tasty demos of pastel and watercolor at noon each day of my open studio (click for catalog page), Oct 10, 11, 17, 18. Click for map.

I’ve always loved an essay by Henry Miller in “Paint as You Like and Die Happy” about hungry painters discussing the juicy names of colors like hors d’oeuvres!

My plein air pastel boxHere’s the container for my tasty new pastel palette. Good enough to eat?!
I researched many pastel boxes and easels ’til settling on this Heilman backpacking box. I might like a larger box, but not a heavier one. Then I made a switch from my trusty but weighty French easel to an old camera tripod, attaching a “quick release” gadget from the photo store (Glad I brought my filled pastel box and tripod along to work it out.), inserting the Heilman metal easel into the two pre-drilled holes in the opened pastel box. This, theoretically, lightened the potential load by 6 pounds. I attach my Bestbrella to the tripod legs. I can carry all into a deep backpack.

My new plein air pastel set up is a work in progress. It was a dramatic move to peel and break off chunks from my collections of many years, stored in several kinds of boxes, mostly Unison, Rembrandt, Nupastel, Sennelier, with additional samples from Terry Ludwig, Diane Townsend, Schmincke, and more. Sometimes I’ve bought pastels in sets, when they come in their own box, sometimes by the stick. Creating and recreating order after making each painting, light to dark, warm to cool, more or less, and cleaning the pastels to let their color shine through and speak with each other, is an intellectual, meditative and time-taking experience.

Pastel painting in progress Mendocino Headlands West 3  Pastel painting in progress Mendocino Headlands West 2Pastel painting in progress Mendocino Headlands WestI had my misgivings about the stability of this set-up. So far it held up well painting during Mendocino Open Plein Air, which was a week of extraordinarily calm and sunny coastal weather. http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/pleinair.

The blue flag was for viewers to find the “celebrity artists”. I was the pastel specialist, a good motivation for setting a deadline to reorganize. And two weeks before I taught a Mendocino Art Center workshop “Lively Pastels”. I’ll teach this again April 16-17, 2016.

It’s harder to detach the box than to set up. Inside, I use a table and/or a studio easel and keep carrying pastel paintings outside to knock off the extra dust between layers.