I got back recently from a life changing trip to see my best friend, Pino. He lives in Chicago and the last time I visited him was the summer of 2017. This time around, we jam packed the trip from start to finish with rock climbing, camping, painting and even skydiving. I mostly wanted to talk about how life changing the skydiving experience was at a place in Wisconsin called, Skydive Midwest, but I also wanted to briefly talk about two paintings that I did while in camping.
The first painting was a plein air landscape that I did near a stream in Illinois. I was using Pino's acrylic paints and some cheap canvas that we picked up from Blick the day before. I had about five colors that I used and I didn't have a palette so Pino found a heavy flat rock for me to use. So everything was very against me for making a "great" painting, but I didn't care about that, I just wanted to have fun and paint.
The painting turned out really well and the reason is because I didn't care about it being "perfect", I just wanted to have some fun. The other painting I did while Pino and I were staying in a super cool small cabin in a place called White Pines Resort. Again, I was using simple acrylic supplies and a luncheables box as a palette. The portrait came out beautifully and I learned that it's nice to have good quality supplies, but you can also do a great painting with cheap canvas and a rock palette.
For the skydiving, I first want to say how awesome the people at Skydive Midwest are. They're so cool and made us feel super excited to jump. Pino had jumped 3 times prior and this was my first time. We ended up having to go back to the place 3 times because of weather conditions and got to jump on the day that I flew back to NJ. The whole process from boarding the small plane to jumping to landing on the ground took about 25 minutes. On the plane ride up, everyone was high-fiving and cracking jokes. So then you're up 14,000 ft. and everyone is sitting with their tandem partner, then a big door opens on the side of the plane which was very surreal. My tandem partner (super cool Brazilian dude) and I edged close to the bay door. We sat with our legs hanging over the side of the plane and you could see the curvature of the earth, which was beautiful and very strange.
The next things is that my partner said "1...2...3..." and then we fell forwards straight down in a minute long free fall. I wish I could describe the feeling of that but it's honestly impossible. It's like the world is hurtling at you so fast and your brain sort of shuts off. It felt like a really long time and yet short. Then my partner pulled the chute and we drifted down in a spiral towards the runway. The parachute ride itself was really beautiful and you could see the whole world beneath your feet. My partner even let me steer the parachute for a while which was really awesome.
After having done the skydiving and the entire trip, I basically feel fearless and that everything "ain't no thang". I really needed this trip to help me find myself again. Thank you Pino <3
I'm super excited to give a review of some artists products that I've been using recently. The products are made by MABEF easels and I purchased them from www.mabefeasel.com. I'm so impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of these Italian made supplies.
I just used the pochade box today to paint two small paintings and it worked beautifully. I rested it on my lap, which was a very comfortable position for painting outside and inside. I also purchased a field easel that has two arms to hold my palette box, which is something that I've been looking for for ages. The other items I purchased were an artists box that has interior metal compartments that are adjustable (it also came with a beautiful wooden palette with a slick surface) and I also got a small folding artists stool, which is very comfortable and I used with my pochade box.
Anyone who's thinking about painting en plein air (or anywhere!) should visit their website and pick up some of their products. The products are very reasonably priced considering the amazing craftsmanship and that they're made in Italy!
*This review was not sponsored by MABEF Easels. I'm simply a fan of their products.
I'm announcing some big news for this summer, 2019. I will be setting up an atelier where students can come study, develop their portfolios for college and learn traditional art techniques. I'm looking to launch the venture in June/July and am currently choosing a final location in Northern NJ. My long-time friend and brilliant artist, Asem Ahmed, will be joining me in teaching along with some very talented guest artists.
This is an idea that I've been considering for a number of years and will be reminiscent of 19th century ateliers where students could work from the live model and learn traditional techniques such as framing and canvas making. My years of teaching have been preparing me for this and I know now's the right time with the resurgence of academic art across the world. Stay tuned for more news as the summer draws nearer.
This past week, I decided to look at some easels from a company that my friend recommended called En Plein Air Pro. I checked out their website and decided to buy The Professional Series Oil and Acrylic Easel and the Traveler Package with Sunpak 2001UT Tripod.
For plein air painting, I have always used my Jullian Classic French easel, which I love, but it's pretty heavy and doesn't fold down easily. The En Plein Air Pro Easel's are very lightweight and fold down very easily. The watercolor easel even fits into a backpack. There's a lot of small touches that I also really appreciate about these easels. For instance, the watercolor easel comes with a collapsible water cup (made by Faber-Castell) that fits into the palette shelf. The oil painting easel comes with a turp cup that fits into its easel palette shelf. As a side note, the oil painting easel can hold canvases OR panels.
Both of the easels have sturdy palette shelves that have holes for standard brush sizes to keep your brushes upright and organized. The palette of the oil painting easel also has a value scale built into the palette. The palette itself is made of plexiglass glass and can be upgraded to tempered glass as an addition. I didn't upgrade because I prefer a wooden palette instead of glass or plexiglass.
One of the main reasons I chose these easels is because most of the pieces (aside from the tripods) are made in USA. The tripods are made overseas in Asia, but they're still good quality. All of the other parts are made in USA (Texas).
Another nice part of this company is that the shipping was super fast. I placed my order on Tuesday and got my easels on Sunday via Fedex. I field tested my watercolor easel today and I have to say it worked great. I plan on using my oil painting easel very soon. I definitely recommend these easels to the modern day artist/adventurer. Check them out and order one.
*This review was not sponsored by En Plein Air Pro. I'm simply a fan of their products.