Plein Aire sketch kit

Replacing my 500 sq. ft. Studio while traveling!

I have a huge, gorgeous studio at home with more art supplies than some art supply stores, but when out-and-about, I want the smallest and lightest gear possible! Of course, I'm never completely satisfied and am constantly changing what goes into my field kit - but here's what I'm carrying these days.
9x6 sketchbook and a pencil case
Inside the sketchbook, I keep some blank watercolor postcards and a few sheets of 5x8 watercolor sheets.
The pencil case contains a couple of fountain pens, a micron pen, pencil, 3 water brushes (flat, round, and a round brush pre-mixed with a 50% solution of ink, a folding brush, a rotring pen (with soluable ink), glue stick, and a vial of black ink.

The pencil case holds a lot of stuff!

Also, I can just fit in a small tin of watercolor paint - I'm using a Velaquez palette of Daniel Smith Ultramarine, quin sienna, and quin gold).

3 pans of color, a bottle cap for water, a couple of sponges, and a small binder clip
Underneath the tin, I used duck tape to fashion a thumb loop and a sleeve for the binder clip.  That way I can hold the little palette on my thumb or clip it to a sketchbook.

If the kit is small, I'm better about carrying it - but, of course, I'm never satisfied and keep adding things until it gets cumbersome and I stop carrying it around.  Then, I go through the process of purging out the extra until the kit is small again.  

If I know I'm going to do a lot of painting on a trip, I'll pack up a portfolio with a bunch of 1/2 sheets of watercolor paper and a couple of lightweight support boards.  Then, I allow myself one large canvas bag for whatever paint, brushes, and other stuff I can think of.  I just put away all the stuff I took on my last trip, so I don't have a picture of that setup.

Trailer project day

First a couple of maintenance tasks

After 8 years, the fresh water intake hose had come loose from its fiberglass housing - making it impossible to remove the fill cap.  A few dabs of silicon sealant should do the trick.
The green and white hose is the fill hose

Then, I saw that a wiring board had come loose and was rattling about on the floor getting roughed up by the electric power cord.  I had some double sticky Velcro that I used (I sandwiched in some foam tape to hopefully dampen road vibration) to remount the board on the side of the hot water heater insulation box.

Next project was to install a litter box

I'm starting to prepare for bringing my little cat, Fay Wray, along on my longer trips. Finding an out-of-the-way location for a litter box (where the dog and I won't be constantly stepping in it) is a top priority!
On my last trip, I emptied the cabinet under the furnace - finding new storage for the kitchen and cleaning supplies that I had been keeping there.
Next, the cabinet door had to come off.

Hmmmm . . . the hinges aren't held on with flat or Phillips head screws . . .where is my fancy screwdriver with the selection of Allen wrench tips?

I found an old IKEA reusable shopping bag that was just about the right size for a liner.  I taped it into the cabinet - that may cut down a bit on the litter getting kicked into nooks and crannies.  The pan is just a storage bin, and there's just enough room on the side for a scooper and some bags!

Will it be acceptable to the tiny princess?

I'll spend some time with Fay Wray in the trailer in the driveway before we actually go camping.  Wish me luck . . . 

Sun, water, and a sketchpad - great vacation!

Coves, tide pools, and sea stacks line the way to Cape Arago

Cape Arago tide pools and undersea garden - 7x7.5" - 30 min.

Cape Arago at low tide - 3.5x7.5" - 15 min
Sketching is like a meditation to me - I get lost in the process.  While sketching at Cape Arago, the following drama unfolded (as witnessed by a friend who was exploring the tide pools).  First, her attention was caught by a racoon screaming up in a tree about 70 feet above where I was sketching.  Then, the racoon fell out of the very tall tree, falling about 50 feet to land on the very steep hillside just to the left of where I was.  Then, he tumbled down the slope, attracting the attention of some beachcombers and their black lab.  The dog tried to chase the racoon but the beachcombers managed to call him back (loudly) and get him on leash. Then their children started to cry and scream that they wanted to see the racoon - this is when I finally tune in and look up to see what's going on.  Sheesh!

Waldo Lake - deep, clear water, pristine!

After 3 days touring around Charleston - Bandon OR scenic area, I traveled to Waldo Lake, near Oakridge, OR to meet some friends.  

Waldo Lake is Oregon's second largest lake and is entirely fed by snowmelt and rainfall.  Motors are prohibited on the lake (only small electric motors).  The water is so clear that you can see up to 100 feet down into the water.  While the mosquitoes can be very bad early in the summer (so bad that the Forest Service has a website dedicated to reporting on the current mosquito conditions!), by mid-August they have usually abated to a tolerable level.  I've occasionally been forced out by the bugs, but the last couple of years have been great!

This year my site provided plenty of sunshine for my solar panel, the Persied Meteor shower was just ending, and the sunsets were outstanding.  The clear water, extensive shoreline and little rocky islands made for really fun paddling.  As one of my friends remarked, "it's really a magical place."  She's right.
Waldo Lake - just West of the swimming area at N. Waldo Forest Service Campground - 3.5x7.5" - 20 min.

Home again - the cat shows her displeasure!

Fay Wray, my little 6 pound, pure-white sweet-looking maniac of a cat greeted me by biting me so hard she drew blood and left 2 puncture wounds in my forearm!  She had also broken her collar while I was away, so I replaced it with a very cute pink collar decorated with little black skull-and-crossbones - I think it fits her personality to a Tee!  

As I'm putting together longer and longer trips, I'm preparing to take this little demon along with me (daily cat care for an extended period is difficult to organize and still not really a good option for FW).  I've figured out most of the mechanics (cat harness, where to put the litter box, etc).  But, I'm not sure that gentle Molly, my greyhound, and I will survive the small quarters of my trailer with the determinedly bossy little Fay Wray.  

Lighthouses, pinipeds, and fresh fish!

The day starts in Bandon, Or. 

It's been a few years since I've been down this way - so I was interested in seeing the changes.  A very good art supply store is gone, but the very excellent chocolate store is still there -they provide scrumptious desserts to some of the restaurants in town (scored a great chocolate/caramel mousse dessert after a wonderful fresh rockfish dinner at the Edgewater restaurant last night).

Then it was on to a tour of the Coquille River lighthouse

The lighthouse has never been open for tours on my previous visits so I was anxious to see inside.  An added benefit was getting to meet Nina and Paul (Wheeling It blog ) whose delightful blog I've been following for awhile!

After lunch, it's time to check out some kayak put-ins 

I was interested in a couple paddles around Charleston, Or -just up the coast a few miles.  Plus, I wanted to take the scenic drive out to Cape Arago and check out Charleston, which has a very picturesque fishing marina.

The following photos barely do justice to the natural beauty of this area!  From the Simpson Reef view point you can see (and hear!) Thousands of harbor seals, California sea lions and elephant seals.  This is one of the few places along the Oregon coast where the seals pull out in large numbers - you could hear them from 1/2 mile away! 

Fisherman's wharf in Charleston, OR

The marina in Charleston has a lot of big fishing boats - and lots of small fish stores selling fresh off the boats salmon, tuna, crab and whatever else they caught.
We got a large loin of tuna and grilled it for dinner.  Served with a fresh raspberry sauce and stir-fried veggies - it was a really yummy end to the day!

Still foggy, but I found a power bush

Tonight I'm at Cape Blanco SP near Port Orford, OR.
Its a nice campground high on a cliff overlooking the ocean (well thru the trees).  Molly and I took a lovely walk thru the forest and then along the cape to the lighthouse.
My electronics and trailer battery are sucking up the juice (after 6 days with no sun, my battery was down to about 50%!). 
I'm enjoying a lovely fire - wood provided by a neighbor who was pulling out as I was pulling in.

Campsites are First come, first served here - I feel lucky to have found such a nice spot on a weekend.

can you count how many starfish in this picture?

Had dinner on the beach tonight

One of my workshop classmates found a great little beach that was totally empty of people.  It was not, however, empty of starfish!  The rocks were full of them!
We were there just before a squall hit.
Another gorgeous ocean-viewing day on the southern coast of Oregon!

Painting like mad!

Roll the dice for an assignment!

I'm taking a great watercolor workshop this week.  Each day covers a design element, then we roll the dice for a secondary element and then again for our color scheme. We're churning out 1-2 paintings a day trying to incorporate all the concepts - fun but exhausting.

Here's my effort for today

Not quite done but well on the way.

close up on his face

In weather news . . . 

While still pretty cool and foggy, there was just enough sun to charge my battery today!  Whew . . . I was really afraid my battery was going to discharge so far it would be damaged.  In still here for another couple of days so, I'll still need to be very conservative.

I walked around these rocks at low tide today and saw a gazillion starfish - from brilliant orange to a deep purple. They are so beautiful against the rocks.

The land that summer forgot!

And my last campsite was so lovely!

After 2 nights at Winchester Bay, I headed south to Brookings for my weeklong watercolor class.  But, although the weather report keeps promising partly sunny - it has been unrelentingly foggy and cool.  Not enough sun to even cause a blip on the solar panel. I've turned off the water pump and hot water heater, only powering the propane fridge which takes a bit of power and the occasional led light.  My phone and tablet get charged during class in town every day.  Hoping I don't kill my battery before the week is out!
Believe me, the picture looks much brighter than it actually is! And, yes, the site is nestled among among a lot of tall and dark trees!

Heavy fog all day
I can't believe I'm wearing wool socks and fleece in August!!

Summer weekend, Oregon Coast - no reservations! It all ends well though

It all started with meeting some Canadian friends at Seaside, OR . . 

I booked a couple of nights at Ft. Stevens State Park expecting that I could snag another night from a cancellation or a no-show.  The park hosts were encouraging.  I had a great site in "o" loop - just a short walk from Coffenbury Lake.
Time was too short to put my kayak in, but Molly and I enjoyed walking around the water.  The lake was peaceful compared to the campground!  O loop is very open and conducive to large groups - there were two separate groups of over 30 people.  At meal times, there was much to-ing and fro-ing with covered dishes.

I had a great visit with my friends but it was sadly cut short when I couldn't find another campsite.

Long travel day South - campground full . . . campground full . . . 

I spent a long day seeing nothing but full campgrounds, no rest areas, and only a single Walmart - eeek, was I going to get shut-out?  I was counting on finding a site at Winchester Bay - but at Reedsport I started to see signs for Dunefest, which turns out is a big deal around there!  

Sure enough, the marina was bumper-to-bumper!  I was resigned to taking the last spot - crammed between two big motorhomes (no power, no grass, just a parking spot) when the camp host, bless him, suggested an alternative!  The marina has an overflow area!  

With water on three sides, this grassy area comes complete with fire rings, picnic tables and almost no neighbors.   I SCORED!!
The beach tent cuts down on the wind

The solar panel worked great.

The view from my campsite.
Dunefest is a celebration of all things fossil fuel!  Huge motorhomes, all manner of dune buggies, ATV's, big jacked-up pickups, little scooters ferrying Jerry cans of gas out to the dunes . . . and miles of vendors.  Every 20 minutes or so a helicopter flies overhead giving tours of the proceedings from the sky.

I venture out on my bicycle, but soon return to the quiet of my camp site.

Camping Tip:  check expiration dates and quality of products in small markets.  You're probably OK with baked beans or other big movers, but I found exp. Dates as far back as 2010!!  And I still got back to my campsite with some fancy-pants tomato paste in a tube that I found was leaking.  Bummer.