Painting from a Moving Car

Driving down through Switzerland the other day, we were stuck in traffic for hours in one of the prettier part of the Alps. These are a couple of quick sketches I did from the passenger seat using my cigar box palette.

Alpine Sketch #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Alpine Sketch #2. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I wanted to mention briefly that my cigar box has a lot of modifications for better functionality, in case anyone wants to try to make their own.

The cigar box palette.

In 1997 I lived in Paris and had a studio in an occupied ex-high school (Pole Pi or something or other was the name. The police took it back after I left and it is now an architectural university). There was a lot of old furniture still laying around the place and I made a large palette out of the back of an old cabinet. That palette is now the base of my cigar box, complete with the old thumb-hole which is now used to hold brushes when I’m taking a break.

I enjoyed that period of my artistic life and like having the memory around.

My old palette at the base.

Normally, cigar box lids are held to the box with paper. I replaced mine with real hinges.

My carpentry skills in all their glory.

The hinges in turn allow a small gap for the metal easel board-holders to slide through and hold the palette. I use a clip to keep the wind from blowing the lid shut.

Hooking a cigar box to a metal tripod easel.

Cigar boxes and prochade boxes are brilliant for the quick set-up times. Often you’ll see a fleeting effect (or a fleeting view, if you’re in stop-and-go traffic), and the speed of setting up and starting to paint becomes important.

My Palette

 

My ultra-portable cigar box palette.

My ultra-portable cigar box palette.

I’ve been asked a few times lately what my palette is, so I thought I’d put a post about it.

(Updated in May of 2014:)

Outside:

  • Titanium white, from either Williamsburg, Old Holland, or Michael Harding.
  • Cadmium Yellow from Williamsburg or Michael Harding.
  • Zecchi’s Roman Ochre.
  • Cadmium Red Light (Vermilion substitute), from Zecchi or Williamsburg.
  • Cadmium Red Medium from Williamsburg.
  • Cadmium Orange, from Williamsburg.
  • Cerulean Blue, Williamsburg, Zecchi, or Old Holland if I’m felling flush.
  • Ultramarine Deep from Old Holland.
  • Cobalt Blue, either Old Holland or Harding.

Inside I use hand-ground Lead White, and hand-ground Ivory Black for portraits and still life.

Sometimes I glaze my landscapes or portraits with Alizarin, from either Zecchi, Old Holland or Robert Doak.

The palette I started with included Naples Yellow, an earth red (Pozzuoli, English…etc), and Veridian. I have also used high chroma purples for specific projects with irises and such.