Heading to Nova Scotia to study watercolors with Poppy Balser, I found a good reference for choosing easels in my email.
|Replacing a plank on the Stephen Taber, by Carol L. Douglas|
We were queuing for the ferry, which crosses the Bay of Fundy to the Digby Gut and from there to the Annapolis Basin. I was driving Bobbi Heath’s new SUV, which has Massachusetts plates. That gave me carte blanche to drive very, very fast (or so I said). The open road, my paint kit, and new places along the hard, cold North Atlantic surf—this is an idyll.
We’re in Digby to take a workshop from the superlative Canadian
watercolorist Poppy Balser. From there, we’ll
head north and around the Bay via Truro and Parrsboro. I haven’t been in
neck of the woods since my trans-Canada trip last October. It’s warmer now,
and I’m rested. This area has the highest tides in the world, and I have the
time and energy to paint them in each phase.
|The ferry dock at Digby, Nova Scotia|
I am moderately competent at watercolor, but Poppy has a loose, lyrical style that I admire and want to understand. This is, of course, the end result of a highly accomplished technique. There are lots of things I want to learn from her, including how she paints her lively, moving water.
instructor side, I try to discourage buying stuff just for my class. I don’t
like making people spend money. It’s been fun experiencing this from the
student side, however. The impulse to have something new for the first day of
school is strong.
Angelique at the Dock, 2016, Poppy Balser. She did the sketch for this at Castine, on the day we shared a Scotch Egg on the landing. I left, and she bagged the boat.
So I invested in some beautiful, new, elegant Rosemary & Co. brushes. I justify this by telling myself that, unlike oil brushes, it’s hard to destroy watercolor brushes. Beyond that, my watercolor kit was pretty good, actually.
Everything I own for watercolor fits in a plastic laundry basket, in contrast to my oil painting supplies, which spill out of my studio into every corner of my house. At plein air events, I envy the watercolorists their efficiency. When it comes time to frame, however, they get their comeuppance, as they have to fiddle with glass, mats and tape.
We had time to race around St. John’s lovely old streets to seek out the commercial harbor. Our goal of finding a greasy takeout for the ferry, however, was foiled. “Opening maybe May 16,” the sign read. Just like home.
We’re carrying four easels with us. One is a predecessor of
M32, and one is a Guerrilla
Painter Flex Easel mounted on a Slik
tripod. These are for our watercolors, because they have heads that can be
set horizontal. If space had been a problem, we could have used either of them
for oils as well. It was easier to just toss our regular kits in the car. In
Bobbi’s case, that is an Open Box M; in
mine it’s a pochade
box I made.
|As soon as Bobbi saw the commercial fleet at Digby she started wondering about property prices. It's beautiful.|
I was contacted by a reader of my blog, Olivier Jennes, founder of WonderStreet. He asked me to look at an article they’d just published about easels. They’re in no way connected with the brands involved; they’re just passionate about art and design.
I’ve read their review, and think it’s worth passing along. If you’re thinking about buying a new easel, you can find the link here.