On Thursday, as we were packing for Flintridge, I was waffling about whether to paint in oils or watercolors. My watercolor kit is tiny and very portable, and lends itself to going back and forth between painting and photographing. I get to work really fast, and things stay pretty loose because you just can’t micromanage watercolors while painting on location. Oils are more of a commitment: they entail setting up the painting box on a tripod, donning a smock and rubber gloves, and making sure I’ve got a canvas carrier on hand in which to transport dripping wet canvases. I wanted to paint in oils, but because I was photographing the Young Horse Qualifier for a few magazines, the logical choice seemed to be watercolors. After all, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting paints on the cameras, and even if watercolors get on clothes, it washes right out.
But I couldn’t decide. My usual response to this is to simply pack everything. We were just driving the few hours up to Flintridge, we were pretty much unencumbered except for my prodigious load of toys, and we had already dropped Tinto off at Camp. Anything painted while holding a terrier is bound to become abstract art by some means or another…. So I don’t even try.
My painting travel kits are organized according to medium. Watercolors and oils each have their own bag, and the items in each bag are dedicated for painting on location. Everything always stays together as a set, because there is nothing worse than driving or hiking out to a location and discovering that something intrinsic to the artistic process was never packed. I am as picky about this as I am about my camera bag, which is also very carefully organized. So it was with great dismay that I realized that in my watercolor bag were paints, paper, towels, water bottle…. but no brushes. The brushes travel in the pockets of a sturdy placard that doubles as a support to paint on, and the whole thing, placard, pens, pencils, two flat wash brushes and three Winsor Newton Series 7 sable brushes which are so finely made that they form the shape of a perfect flame when wet, had simply vanished. Usually when something disappears while I’m packing, it resurfaces the minute I get home, but so far it is still nowhere to be seen…. Sigh.
So my decision was made for me – oils it was!
Flintridge Riding Club is in a valley just outside Pasadena, and immediately next door to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The valley creates some beautiful misty morning light and often brilliant afternoon sunshine, JPL has been known to teach horses about incoming helicopters. It’s an old-style show grounds, with a covered grandstand and lights for evening classes, and huge live oaks for shade. The food is always wonderful, the club members and staff work hard to make everything shine, and there is always a place to sit at a table and watch horses go – in other words, it’s a civilized place for a dressage show. As soon as I walked in, I knew that oils would be perfect for the atmospheric light and the shadows cast by the ancient trees.
I completed 5 8″x 10″ paintings during the weekend. They’re available for between $300-$350 each, and they’ll be ready to ship in a few days once they’re dry enough to pack. Enjoy!