I have a grand new tool for plein air work. For months, my back has been telling me to stop — stop walking, stop talking, stop bending, and certainly stop picking things up. It’s feeling a bit better, but it still ouches when I bend and if I pick up more than 5 pounds.
My plein air equipment was composed of a stuffed packback, a folding chair, and a box to hold wet paintings. Manageable, but definitely more than 5 pounds. Jer has filled in, driving me to painting spots and picking me up, but that seems unfair to him — and it robs me of my GDI status.
This gadget, called an Austin Crate, is a bit like a rolling luggage cart. It not only folds into a flat package but its handle can be pushed down separately, so it can sit in the car trunk holding everything I need. It not only unfolds to hold all my gear, but it also sits beside my stool on site and allows me to arrange my work without getting up and down to pick up all the things I forget or couldn’t hold the first time I pulled things out of the backpack. The gear always seems a bit much — the palette, the palette paper, the mineral spirits, the rags, the brushes, the paints, and the canvas (which I generally find leaning against a tree halfway up the block, where I set it while I decided on what spot was the right one to paint at.) Having everything right beside me makes me positively beamish.
As you can see above, it was a good day for color. And below too:
One of my kibitzers told me about these trees — but that was after I had seen and recorded them for myself. The building isn’t really pink, but the red from the trees blended with the gray of the stucco, and turned it all an amazing lavendarish-pink.
But I had other aims for the afternoon. This is what I painted:
This is a corner of Buckman Elementary School, a big part of the Buckman neighborhood. It’s also an arts magnet, and while it is the standard red brick building in a “C” shape, the two arms that stretch out from the center are wide and inviting. If you look closely, you can see a kid’s caucus in front of the flagpole (Mid-right on the photo). I was there as classes were let out, and my spot went from peaceful brushing to riotous discussions of what I was doing. It was great fun. And my back thought it was heaven. I haven’t looked at the painting yet to see what it looks like. –June