This past weekend my fabulous husband gave me a wonderful gift of a getaway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was just an overnighter, so I didn't have a ton of painting time; but I did have enough to do this little mountain study.
I also spent part of the trip scouting around for future painting sites.I was in the town of Nellysford, VA (near Wintergreen) which has long been a favorite of mine. In the past though, I have always been able to scout while my husband drove. Driving on my own through this gorgeous countryside, I realized how oblivious I have been in the past to what a white-knuckle a drive route 151 can be (sorry honey!) It wasn't very easy to ogle without also risking driving oneself off a cliff. I did find a few spots to pull over though, and even though the leaves haven't yet made their autumn transformation there, it was still stunningly gorgeous and inspiring.
The above painting is really a study. I was mainly interested in getting a feel for the planes and shadows of the mountain. I struggled with the canvas panels I brought though. They were oil primed linen, which are supposed to be primo, right? But I found them to have a both a heavier weave and yet to be much slicker than I am accustomed to, at the same time. It might just be a matter of getting used to them, but they gave me problems last weekend and I felt like the surface was a major distraction.
I also learned that my over-reliance on my handy dandy rolling bag has caused my plein air painting gear to get a little hefty. I love using the Soltek easel (when it's functioning properly) when I'm around town, but if I am going to get back into traveling I really need a lighter setup for my backpack. I do have a very light setup already, but it has proven almost too light for me, and I find it to be so much less stable-feeling than my Soltek or other pochade boxes I've used in the past. I also have become extremely reliant on the large paint-mixing surface of the Soltek (which I have expanded even further--more about that in a future post). So the tiny mixing area of my current travel box makes me feel like a giant in Munchkin-land.
Yet again, I may just need to get myself accustomed to the change. But I've been finding myself eyeing another paint box of late (here we go again!). I've had my eye on it for a number of years. It's by Alla Prima Pochade. The models I am considering are either the Bitterroot or the Bitterroot lite. I can always rationalize needing an auxiliary easel for travel and for use in case my Soltek breaks down again. They seem really well made and are so intelligently designed (I've seen them before in action.) But will either one significantly reduce my setup size while still allowing an adequate paint mixing area? That is the question.