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Photo - Plein air set up on Pamet River
My plein air set up on the Pamet River in Truro, Cape Cod.
GETTING STARTED - If you've never picked up a brush before, congratulate yourself. An exciting adventure awaits you. And like any new enterprise, having the right outfit can go a long way in helping to insure success. If you haven't already done so, I recommend going over the Basics Page and make sure the various ideas, principles and approaches are clear. Not that you have to master the exercises immediately, think of them instead as windows opening on to the possibilities of what lies ahead. Equipped with both some basic directions and a kit packed with the proper materials, your journey should be more than pleasant. Or as the bumper sticker on the Maine fisherman's pickup truck proclaimed, "The kick is in the catch, not the keep!".

EASELS - Either a full or half French easel, one of the new aluminum jobs, pochade box with tripod or any of the other portable easel / sketch box arrangements compatible to your painting approach. Err on the side of simplicity, here. I've seen masterpieces painted on a canvas propped against a rock with a fishing tackle box for supplies. So don't go overboard.

BRUSHES & PALETTE KNIFE - For oils and acrylics, two each or #7, #5, #3 and #1 bristle flat, round or filbert (your call) and a small rigger for detail stuff. Watercolor and gouache painters need one each of a #7, #5 and #3 round sable (good brushes are critical for these mediums so be sure and get the best you can afford), a 1 inch flat sable or synthetic and a small rigger. A palette knife is useful for all mediums. Be sure to get the kind with the inverted handle rather than the more awkward model shaped like a table knife.

PALETTE - Wood or Plexiglas, or tear-off paper for oil painters. Paper tear-off for acrylics. Watercolor and gouache painters will need either a white butcher tray or one of the many plastic palette on the market. The John Pike palette is the best of these.

PASTELS - Same color palette as above in no less than 5 gradations for each color.

PAINTING SURFACES - Canvas board, masonite panels primed with gesso or stretched canvas are all possible choices. You'll need at least 12 panels for a 5 day class in sizes of either 8 x 10, 9 x 12, 11 x 14 or 12 x 16. You may want to throw in a few squares for variety. Acrylic and gouache painters need the same size and number in cold press illustration board panels. Bainbridge # 80 (single or double weight), or Crescent cold press are equally fine surfaces.

Watercolorists should have the same size and numbers in either a cold or hot press surface no lighter than 140 pound in weight in either sheets or blocks.

Pastelists, the same size and number of various pastel papers in colors of your choice so long as the tone of the paper is no darker than a middle gray.

PAINT THINNER, TURPENTINE, WATER - Oil painters should bring at least a quart of paint thinner, odorless, turpenoid, whatever, for a 5 or how many day class along with a jar with a coiled wire on the bottom (Silicoil makes one for about $5). Water based painters need a large water container (at least a quart in capacity) for swishing out brushes.

COLORS - Whether painting in oils, acrylics, watercolor, gouache or pastel, you'll need the following colors:

Either thalo red rose, permanent rose (Windsor Newton trade name for thalo red rose) or alizarin crimson
Cadmium red light
Cadmium orange
Cadmium yellow medium (opaque mediums), new gamboge (watercolor)
Cadmium yellow light, pale or lemon (opaque mediums) aureolin (watercolor)
Thalo green, Windsor green (Windsor & Newton trade name for thalo) or viridian
Both ultramarine and Cerulean blue
Large tube of Permalba, Utrecht or Grumbacher (Superba) white (oil), titanium white (acrylic), Windsor Newton permanent white (gouache)

MEDIUMS - For oil, 3 parts turpentine to 1 part stand oil or any of the gels such as Resin-Gel, Win-Gel, Zec, etc. Water based paint seldom needs a medium or gel except acrylics, which responds nicely to any of the various acrylic gels on the market.

MISCELLANEOUS STUFF - Paper towels or rags for cleaning, razor blade scraper for your palette, screw on umbrella for your easel, sketch book, pens and pencils, a camera and plenty of film and lastly, don't forget the bug spray. If you don't have an art store in your neighborhood, the following list of suppliers all have fine products at decent prices:

Pearl Paint - Anything you want Classic Artist's Oils - Oil paints only, but excellent colors.
Utrecht Art - Anything you want Art Supply Warehouse - Anything you want
Open Box M - The creme de la creme of pochade boxes and accessories for the serious plein air painter. Get a catalog and see for yourself. RayMar - Oil and acrylic painting panels
Jason Ornstein - My favorite framer. An extensive array of styles, good prices and fast delivery anywhere in the U.S. No website, but you can call him at 203-795-4826 or email Judson Plein Air Outfitters - Probably the most complete outfitter of en plein air impedimenta anywhere in the country with surprisingly affordable prices.

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