Painting on a Plane
This petite watercolor study was painted while in flight over the ocean, using a reference photo of the sill in my room while I was in college at UMASS a few decades ago. The same couple of photos from this wintery, persimmon and whiskey decanter sunny afternoon have inspired prints and paintings before (here and here). There’s something nostalgic and life-surveying to paint from photos snapped a long time ago. Have you ever used your own family photos, or your grandparents’ vintage photos as references for art-making?
Comparing Watercolor Travel Palettes
I tested the Van Gogh Pocket Box watercolor set while traveling, so I’m sharing my results here in case it’s useful to you. Compared to the Winsor & Newton Cotman travel watercolor set, the Van Gogh box is slightly larger (and as such, it has 15 wells compared to W&N’s 12 wells of pigments). The case has a round #6 travel brush inside, and a separate, nested tray insert you can pull out to expand your mixing area. I’m using the inside cover of the box to hold a pool of water and a mixing space in the photo above, because my airplane surface area is so tiny. (I’m also using a round #12 Pro Arte Midas Touch travel brush, similar to this one, and a sheet of lightweight 8×10 foam core as a support for my paper, held in place with masking tape #becauseIwasinahurry.)
I removed the #6 brush and the extra mixing tray before traveling, since I’m accustomed to using a small palette; airplane tray-tables can be a best-use-of-space challenge. By removing the tray, the pans of color fell out of their little cubbies and rolled around the interior of the case like dominoes, but I just slid them back into a spot each time I used it. This could be annoying to someone who likes their colors in a specific arrangement, so I’d suggest leaving the extra tray in place if that’s how you roll. If you don’t like the colors that come with the palette, you can slide these half pans out and replace them with others, or buy empty half pans and fill with your own pigment choices from tube watercolors. (Leave enough time for them to dry before traveling though.) Overall, I like the Van Gogh Pocket Box just as well as the Winsor & Newton travel palette. The pigments wet easily, responded to mixing very well, and lifted off the paper for lightened passages effectively.
Using Creativity to Climb out of Grief
After the fires and mudslides in my community, I’m relieved to see people starting the slow climb out of grief and loss. For the folks who lost everything, I can barely comprehend where one would start to rebuild a life. My own experience of successfully moving through bereavement is rooted in creativity. I hope that people who don’t consider themselves creative will take the leap to give making (anything) a try. The links below are encouraging essays on the life-affirming salve of creating something new to contradict what has been taken away.
- A registered nurse writes about the power of making things with your hands as a comfort for grief and loss.
- A Harvard University lecturer and author talks about the surprising connections between grief and creativity.
I hope you are making things – in the studio, in the kitchen, in the garden, at a keyboard, or on the couch. No expectation of the outcome, for that will surely cramp the process. Just make something. #fortheloveoftheprocess
🙂 Happy Art-Making to all of you… Thanks for so many kind emails and comments after the Thomas Fire and the Mudslides. We’re all dusting off, standing straight, and getting back to life. I so appreciate every single note; I’ve shared them with my friends here in Ventura.?
I’ll see you in the next post –
Maxfield Parrish never lacked commissions, critical acclaim, prizes, the resultant fame or other rewards for his artistic endeavors. He seemed to search for a means to balance beauty in every detail, every brush stroke; his graphic designs combined with proportion, subtlety and grace. His vision came early in life and it flourished to the end. Consequently, Parrish works are timeless. He led an extraordinary life and designed its style as neatly as he laid out masonite panels on which to paint.
Then, abruptly, in 1931, Parrish changed focus. Halting all that had made him successful and famous, he began anew, as a landscape artist. His father, Stephen, had followed exactly the same pattern. After years of critical acclaim as an etcher, Stephen Parrish suddenly became an easel painter, painting landscapes until he died in his 90’s.
Maxfield Parrish followed his father’s pattern to the letter. Famous for illustrating everything from toys, games, magazines and book illustrations to advertisements and art prints, he painted only landscape scenes after 1931. Maxfield Parrish died in 1966 at the age of 95, at his beloved New Hampshire home, The Oaks.~from Maxfield Parrish – a Retrospective, by Laurene S. Cutler