Thursday, April 18, 2019

Getting Ready for Travel!

It's time again to think about travel and tinkering with a new handmade painting platform. My friends know that I love to tinker with making art gear and sometimes I enjoy that part more than actually painting! I really like all the designing and brainstorming to make something simple and inexpensive.

I travel several times each year, which always revolve around plein air painting! I'm getting ready for a trip coming up next month to Cape Ann, Massachusetts and we will be flying. We got the cheapest flights, and I don't intend on checking a bag. We are renting a house which has a washer and dryer, so I am going to try to pack few clothes. But I also need to have a smaller amount of art supplies, since everything will need to be carry-on luggage.

While I enjoy working in oils and pastels, and have traveled with both, I decided to get out my dusty watercolor paints and jump on the "urban sketcher" bandwagon. I've been studying up on this style of painting, which uses permanent ink to sketch the scene, and may or may not end up with watercolor washes to enhance the design. I tried learning traditional watercolor painting about 15 years ago, but found it tedious. Because I can be much more free with the sketcher style of painting, I'm going to try it for this trip. Here's a shot of all the gear, which I will detail later:

Watercolor gear travels very easily. I have a travel tripod and decided to made a platform for it to work on the sketches. I can also use the platform on my lap, if I decide that is more comfortable. I thought you might enjoy seeing my project and the gear I plan on taking.
For the platform, I am using a piece of thin Gatorboard which is a very rigid type of foam core board. I may be using loose watercolor paper and so I covered the board with clear Contact paper to protect the board's paper from moisture and to make it easier to remove the tape holding down the paper. I also wanted some type of ridge along the sides and bottom so that there was a lip to keep things from rolling off the board. I attached one layer of mat board, about an inch wide, to the edges. I wanted something that was fairly flat so it wouldn't be in the way when drawing.
To attach the board to the tripod via the quick connect plate, I mounted a t-nut to a 3/8" thick, 9" x 2.5" wood board. Then glued that wood to the underside of the Gatorboard. No real need to use screws for this. Then I put some decorative Duck tape onto the wood and surrounding Gatorboard for strength and protection. Overall, it is very lightweight but very sturdy.
 I ran out of one roll of Duck tape, and had to use another design to finish!
Here is my travel tripod in its bag, along with a 16" laptop shoulder bag. The platform fits perfectly into this bag, along with most of the other gear.
They fit perfectly into my tiny carry-on luggage, although I may not take the shoulder bag on this trip, as I will be taking a backpack also.I figured I would put all the art supplies (the heavier items) in the wheeled luggage, and put my lightweight clothes into my backpack for traveling. I am likely to have my luggage searched because of all the weird art things. Seems like this happens every trip. So I'd like to have all the suspicious looking things in one bag.
Here's some actions shots! Here I have taped down a piece of watercolor paper on the contact paper covered platform. I've put a piece of kitchen cupboard liner mesh under my watercolor palette to it doesn't move around. I have a tiny water jar that has a magnet on the bottom, so that can stick nicely onto my palette. (I'm taking larger leak-proof water containers also).

 Here a 7x10" Arches watercolor block fits nicely and stays put with the mat board edging.
I'll also take a neat 3.9 x 9.8" Arches watercolor block. Looks like a great shape for painting landscapes! And some Arches 300#  paper cut into 5x7" and 4x6". I always take way too many painting surfaces, but I'll have choices:

In this tin are my pens, pencil, several brushes, some white gouache, and in the lid, a flexible ruler, and pieces of artist's tape. I'll take a small roll of tape also, but having a few pieces in tin is a easy place to store tape (which gets used over and over). I have several brush cases but this jewelry tin was perfect.

Here are more views of stuff I'll take. I do want to take this kit out into the field in the next few weeks to see what I need to tweak!

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