A number of years ago I painted at an antique car show near my home. As I took a break from my second painting I noticed another oil painter rendering a Volkswagen Beetle as he talked to a couple who where watching him paint. While I marveled at his composition I heard him tell the two people, ” I F*****G HATE PAINTING!” Shocked by his words, I found myself returning to my work, brushing off any negativity that I felt.
His outburst struck a chord and the memory came to mind later as I reviewed why, at times, I might dislike the painting process. A tirade of frustrating memories surfaced, ranging from my aching joints to misplacing my art materials or altogether forgetting them at home. All of these troubles of painting en plein air can discourage even the most dedicated painter.
For many years I attempted to create a self-contained easel with attached supplies for easy access that would bring joy back to painting on location but with little success.
I had fashioned a hard case from ABS sheets whereby the necks of the tubes fit into holes drilled along the top. This worked to keep my paints safe and in one location but was cumbersome and time consuming as the caps had to be off in order to replace the tube necks through the holes then recapped, nor were they able to hang from my easel. I put the idea on hold until a friend turned me on to a social media post that dealt with this problem in the studio.
This was as simple as driving rows of nails into a piece of ply wood and mounting it on a wall that allows the tubes of paint to hang from their bases with binder clips. I was excited by this method and eagerly set about making my own. Now all my tubes of paint are easily inventoried and organized by colors and brands. Painting in my studio is more fun and productive – there’s no need to search for paints and inventory is always kept up.
This idea re-kindled the driving force in developing a system for organizing my paints while working en plein air and soon after, I applied this technique by modifying a hanger with hooks made of heavy gauge wire to hold the tubes to the side of my Easy-L. This was very helpful as the paints were now within easy reach but they still had to be set up before I could paint and removed from the hooks afterwards, which meant tubes were still carried separately in a bag which I had to rummage through, locating the required paints. Any ideas of containing them in a designated place proved to be inadequate and the binder clips soon started rupturing the thin metal tubes due to crimping and shuffling about inside the bag during transport.
Eventually, I completely re-configured my design after exhausting all attempts of using the binder clips. I like the idea of hanging the paint tubes from the caps in slots as found in art stores and decided to design with this concept in mind, discarding the binder clip idea completely.
I began to entertain the idea of using ABS plastic again. The hard case from my first idea was perfect for the desired result. Through much brainstorming as well as trial and error, the cases came together and as they say, “The rest is history!”