My Setup

"Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated" -Mark Twain

HA! I'm always looking for an excuse to say that. Anyway, beside being a slack ass this week and only posting once, my camera broke on top of that! I think I have to say good bye to my cheapo but trusty old Canon a75. :( Anyone got any budget conscious suggestions for a camera?
I actually painted this morning but now I have to get another camera or wait til a painting is dry enough to scan.
Anyhoo, this was the last picture I was able to take with the camera:

I thought this might be a good excuse to list my meager setup, so here goes:

  • 9x12 Guerrilla Box Pochade Box - I bought this used from painter Tim Shultz and never have looked back. I love this thing! It keeps all my messy junk in one place. I was a freaken disaster area before I got this thing. btw- I recently painted the slide out palette black (then urethane coat) so that it would better match my black gessoed painting surfaces.
  • Hang-Up Brush Caddy - This is great for holding my brushes on the side. I actually fill it with rice also so that brushed stand nicer.
  • Rope or bungie paper towel holder - To the rings in the front I attach a rope or bungie cord to hold paper towels there. Usually I also have a plastic bag underneath it for trash.
  • Heavy Tripod - Ok you got me, I don't know the specific type. I actually borrowed it from my step dad who used it for astonomy (Thank you Bob!). I love it because it's heavy/sturdy and the head moves very fluidly.
  • Clip-on Halogen Light - This is a cheapo clip-on halogen desk light from target that I use for illumination on the Pochade box. I use some defusion on it to soften the light and cut down on glare.
  • Robert Simmons Bristol Brushes - (Flat or bright) sizes 2,4,6, and 8. I used to have fancy soft brushes, but these ruffians make great texture and keep me from fussing with details.
  • Black gessoed Masonite - I use simple precut masonite. With a knife, I gesso it with a very thick white gesso. Then once it's dry I lightly brush on black gesso. The last coat is some kind of quick spray varnish. This is just to make the gesso less thirsty so it doesn't suck up to much oil from the paint.
  • Krystal Seal Bags - These comes in just the sizes I need and are great for shipping and archival.
  • Lukas 1862 Oil Paint - Titanium White, Cad Yellow Lite, Cad Red, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Thalo Blue. I like the Lukas paints because they are well priced, and have a nice creamy texture. I was tired of battling paint that was thicker (or inconsistent).
  • Mason Jar of OMS - I use odorless Mineral Spirits because it's cheaper and I can't tell the difference from Turpenoid. The little mason jar fits in my box, it completely sealable and I put a little standing screen in there to rub the brushes against.
  • Liquin or Galkyde - Really either is fine as a medium for me. I think I prefer Liquid because it doesn't dry as quick, though it's still good to go in 24 hours.
  • White chalk pencil - Used to draw in basic composition on the black gesso bkg.
  • Q-tips (medical grade) - My wife gets these from the dental office but I think you can order them. You can see one next to the chalk pencil under the painting. They are longer and stronger than normal cute tips. They don't come apart and are great erasers!
  • Duct Tape - I use a loop of duct tape to hold the masonite in place while I paint. Sounds stupid doesn't it? It works.
  • View Cacher - This is for framing compositions. I hate using my fingers and I always feel a premodonna auteur when I do. This little baby is adjustable and nuetral gray. Seen next to my closed jar of OMS. http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-supply/catalogs/0065300000000
  • Paper/Cloth for Background - I buy a good bit of randomcolor paper in big thick sizes from the art store. Sometimes I use cloth (frabric or thrift store), but the paper makes it easy for me to try different backgrounds.
  • Still life Stand? - Nope. Haven't come up with a good solution yet. Soon I'd like to mount a board to a tripod that I can raise and lower. Right now I often stack random stools around the house to get it at the level I need and then put a drawing borad on it for a platform. I put clothe or paper on the drawing board and often against the cheap wooden easel behind it.
  • Key light (not pictured)- I use this simply light stand http://www.dickblick.com/zz551/14/
    I don't use the cromalux or any daylight temp bulbs. They just look violet to me. I use a 75 watt halogen spot which seems to give me cleaner light with good color response.
  • Diffusion and Blackwrap (not pictured)- My lighting savvy brother gave me some diffusion and black wrap. The diffusion plastic is great for softer lighting (and also on my halogen). The Blackwrap is just like heavy matte black tinfoil. I wrap big pieces on the light if I want to shape it more or keep it out of my eyes.
That's all I can think of for now. Let me know if anyone has suggestions or questions about my setup. It's a work in progress for sure. :)

related posts:
What I've Learned (after 120 paintings)
Digital Starts - Photoshop, but it's exactly how I paint anything.

See available paintings | Email me about a commission


Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Thanks for all the commentary on your supply's. I've been wanting to ask you some a few question's that you've answered here. I'm sure I'll use some of these ideas in my next set up. GREAT post!

experipainter said...

I just got MacPherson's book yesterday on your recommendation. I've read it pretty well right the way through already, and it's wonderful. But I did find it strange that he makes not one mention, if I haven't missed anything, and I did look hard, of what mediums he uses in the different paintings he shows as examples. Nor does he give any advice about laying paint on--brushwork, wet-on-wet techniques or whatever. I know he's recommending for many quick paintings done plein air, but what thoughts do you have on any of this I wonder? How thick are you using the paint? I really have had trouble with this sort of thing--getting paint to lay down over other layers, etc. (I'm a beginner type, as you can tell.) Thanks for your great posts--and paintings.

Jeff Mahorney said...

Thanks guys! :)

experipainter- Good questions.
He uses galkyde with a little thinner mixed in. And h's not painting super think at first when he's laying in the masses (but it's still opaque). Thick brushstrokes are saved til the end (fat over lean).
You know what would really answer those thinkness and medium questions? Watch his videos:
Smartflix is a great way to rent painting videos on the cheap (relative to buying them)

Lorrie Drennan said...

Dear Jeff,

Thanks for the comment on my blog the other day.

I came to visit you today (LOVE the advice about the duct tape! Duh! I will be using that one!) and got to looking around and realized I had been here before in the past. I had seen the art monky entry about the crayon game and the one about the guy that painted that one painting on his lunch hour.

Isn't this art/blog community great! The old famous guys used to hang out together and comment and help each other and drink wine. So I think I will go open a bottle of wine!

Nice visiting with you. Great work, by the way. I feel you camera pain. Mine died two weeks ago or so. Try Buy.com

Jeff Mahorney said...

Thanks Lorrie.
You bet, that new painting of yours is just awesome. I do love the community. It's especially nice to know someone out there is think about the same things I am. :)

I'll figure something out for a new camera. Right now I'm on borrowed camera time and low on funds.

James said...

On the camera, I use a Canon A540. I would suggest something in that line because it is just above the point and shoot price range, but it has manual modes, shutter priority, good white balance control,and manual focus. I use it for shooting my blog artwork and for reference shots. It was the cheapest camera I found that could do real photographic control.

One thing I like for shooting my artwork is setting the manual focus and using the 2 second release on a tripod to avoid blur.

I am glad I did not go for a dSLR.

Jeff Mahorney said...

James thanks much for the advice. Forgive the photography noob question but, What's the advantage of shutter priority (et. all) over auto? Where are you seeing better quality?

James said...

With control over shutter priority or aperture you can do some photographic effects like getting some blur intentionally with water etc. Aperture priority can gives you control over depth of field so that you can have a background blurry (think taking a picture of a flower.)

Those photographic effects aren't important to photographing the artwork for the blog. They just let you explore some of the things that photographers worry about.

The white balance setting, fairly good zoom, and 2 second release are what I use for photographing artwork. It works better than my last point and shoot.

Dennis said...

Hey Jeff i stumbled upon your page and have to say that your work is awesome ...thanks for sharing and thanks for the information about your painting area ... very good. I was wondering about your light diffuser... what type of plastic is it? will it melt?... where can I purchase it?
thanks, Denny

Dennis said...

...oh ....and the blackwrap too!

Jeff Mahorney said...

Sorry Denny, I'm lookin for the same answer myself! My brother, a key grip in the film biz gives me these goodies. I actually don't know where the hell in town to get lighting stuff. :(

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