Meeting Notes, April 23, 2015

At today's meeting Loretta, Thomas, Tim, Steve, Charlie, Bill, Betsy, Kristina, Marty, Dave, John, Kathy, Mike, Tedd, Eunice, Brenda, Jeanne, Thomas C and me Celeste. 

Today's suggested table topic: How do you set up your palette?. (Or palette "management"... Do you have tips for us about your palette)?

Celeste: I started painting with my paints set out from right to left with the white and yellow on the right side ending with the cools and darks on the left. This was because I took a workshop with Kenn Backhaus. I found out later that this set up was not typical and that Backhaus is probably left-handed. I'm right-handed. When I put my colors the opposite way it felt better for me and I have done it that way ever since. I have noticed that many really good painters paint with just the primaries...but they add a green to their palette. I brought in a painting where the green seemed to be a real help in the scene.

Eunice: I took a workshop from Ted Goerschner.  He came up to me one time and said (pointing to my palette) "no that doesn't go there ....that goes there ...and no that doesn't go there... that goes there". So I did adopt his layout and have used it ever since. I use a glass palette. I have stopped using any kind of tear-away palette.  I took the Joanne Mehl workshop this weekend and it was fantastic! I learned a lot. 

Tedd: I went to the plein air convention in Monterey. I had a wonderful time. There were over 700 people there. There is no question that it is expensive, but it is so worth it and so much fun! I can't say enough great things about it. I recommend that you go next year.  I painted several paintings. The wind was relentless.  It was difficult to paint but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also really enjoyed meeting the woman who makes the Rosemary brushes (a favorite brush of mine). I brought in three paintings from my trip

Mike: I use Eric Weigardt's method for setting out a palette (watercolor).

Kathy: I have been taking Jennifer Diehl's workshop so I am using her method of putting out a palette. I put white on the left and burnt sienna and raw umber in the middle with warms and cools on either side. I took a workshop with Ovanes Berbarian and he has you layout paints in what he calls turtles. (Each dollop is the same size as a turtle). This is to ensure that you will "paint like a Millionaire". During the time I worked with Ovanes he had a system of immersing his entire palette into water at the end of his painting session. When it was time to paint again he would just retrieve it from the water. I brought in two paintings of baby chicks. 

John: I use ultramarine and raw umber in my palette and I add colors to either side. I use acrylic. I am working on a 4' x 23' mural. I have searched for the right surface to paint on. I have landed on using flexible plywood. You can bend the wood and it doesn't break. (Editor's Note: during John's demonstration bending the sample it did break!  We laughed ...but we could see that the material is really indeed just right for a mural). John brought in a painting on the flexible plywood.

Dave: I have a system of clamping my palette onto my easel. I set it up the same way every time. I put my grays in the center. I put the colors on either side. I put all my paint in the refrigerator when I'm done. I brought in a painting that I did recently at Crystal Springs. It is painted in acrylics. I also brought in a figure painting from my archives. 

Marty: I use a palette on a big table. It is a big piece of glass. I learned to do this from Kat Sowa. I also adopted the Ovanes Berbarian way of putting gray on the side. I have done a new painting of children in the water. I am trying to capture the light!

Jeanne: I have a Soltek easel. I use that palette that came with the easel. The Soltek provides wings that fold in and if you keep the center of your palette clean you can fold your paint into the easel and transport it that way. I took a workshop from James McVicker. He encouraged me to use a lot more paint. I am going to Studio 30 on Fridays. I really like going there!  I remember once I was looking at the model (probably perplexed-like) and Za said to me: "it's just a tree Jeanne, consider it as a tree". (Laughter)! I am more of a landscape painter than a figure she was pointing out that shapes and colors are shapes and colors no matter what you're looking at. I brought in a painting from studio 30. 

Kristina:  I am trying to do better cleaning my palette as I go. I have a razor blade for this. If I don't scrape off my palette regularly I can get lazy and make some wrong decisions. I do paintings with my "leftover" paints. This is just for fun. I have noticed, however, that some of my leftover-palette-paint paintings are better than my other paintings! I brought in three.

 Betsy:  I'm a watercolorist so we use watercolor wells. We set them out the same way every time. I like to be generous with my paint too. 

Brenda: I am back from Monterey. I was there during the convention. I got to paint with all my Portland friends there. It was difficult to paint in the wind. I also didn't feel very well during this trip. I went to a place on the coast called Garrapata. The changing light was a challenge. You have to remember where your darks and lights are going to go. You have to make a plan and memorize it. I was frustrated with my painting and I realized I need to put down more paint ....more paint! So I did and in the end I was so pleased with how it came out. I have it here and I will pass it around ...the paint is still wet in the middle. The paint is so thick it is a bit like icing on the cake. I wrote a blog post about my Monterey experience:

Thomas (Clark): When I started painting I used one of those big kidney-bean type pallets. Even though I now paint from a different kind of palette I still lay out my paints in a circle. I like to use a cool white and a warm white. I like to look at the subject and decide just way out which way I'm going to go. I did a portrait recently of a plein air painter from Hood River.: (It was determined to probably be Laurel Bushman). I like to put out my paint now in advance. It's great to have everything ready. 

Bill: I'm trying to do more figure painting. I like to now premix my flesh. Just to get a jump on things. I had an instructor once who said "just remember this for flesh tones: ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard"! (laughter)! I've been going to Hipbone Studio.  I am bringing in two paintings... one from the Hipbone life session and another from a photo reference. 

Charlie: I use colored pencils. It is key is to stay organized.  I don't want to just use any bunch of pencils that I come across ....I want to make a firm decision about which pencils I'll choose for which piece. Pencils do "run out", so I have to make sure I have enough of the pencils I want before starting a project. 

Steve: I really don't have a succinct palette really. I make a decision about which colors I'm going to use based on what I'm looking at. I do use burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for darks and I bend it  one way (warm or cool) with those colors. I do try to keep my clean colors really clean my dirty colors don't matter much. What I'm saying is that the yellows need to be kept extremely clean in watercolor. They can get contaminated so easily. You have to provide a very clean place for the yellows. I have been drawing a lot lately. I have noticed that regular drawing really improves my paintings. The Renaissance guys used toned paper a lot and that inspires me to do the same.  I brought in 3 pieces.

Tim: This is my palette (He showed it to was messy) (Laughter)! I am showing a painting of a train car in Troutdale. 

Thomas (Kitts): You need to keep your colors in the same place every time. There is no negotiating this. Here's why-- if you are a pianist you can't find the keys if they're in a different place. People don't really have very good color memory. That has been proven. So we need to give ourselves every single advantage. Put your paints in the exact same place then you'll be able to find them fast.  I use a chromatic pallet and I use this mini Strada I have really enjoyed using this. I do allow myself to change my mind about how to use these wings on the Strada. Sometimes I might set it up where I am mixing my lights on one wing, my mid tones in the center and my darks on the other wing. I might segregate my premixing or segregate my values. I have started to premix more. I always use the freezer to save my paints. Ovanes Berbarian did change my life. All the luminaries say that if you can't put it out on your palette you can't get it on the canvas! (Laughter)! I did this painting of a participant at the Monterey convention and she only sat for me for 30 minutes. I intend to do more to the painting. I really enjoyed painting this it just all came together. 

Loretta:  I use a white palette and it is stained where the colors go. I sometimes use saran wrap over my paint if I think I'm not going to paint the next day. I am a creature of habit.  I set my paints out dark to light. 
At the end of our meeting  today Tedd had us take the "Plein Air Force" pledge with him (The same pledge he and everyone at the Convention took). We all raised our hands and "enlisted", promising to be advocates for painting outdoors. Tedd brought us back Plein Air Force patches and pins to show that we were all enlisted into the Plein Air Force. Thanks so much Tedd that was so great! (Here is more about the plein air convention:


 AIS call to artists as well as other opportunities:

Za Vue is painting at the Olmsted Plein Air event.  We have been following her on Facebook. Congratulations, Za!

May 1 through May 30 Brenda Boylan and Jm Broderick are  having a show at the Brian Marki. Marki also represents artists Steve Kleier and Anton Pavlenko.

Michael Orwick and his daughter have a reception tonight in Newberg at Art Elements:

Kathy Johnson brought in information for all the information needed for the lavender festival registration. More here:

Thomas Kitts has two Portland workshops coming up this year. He will will teach one that will be three days long and another that will be one day long.  The one day long workshop will be about drawing for plein air. He will announce these on his blog.

Steve Klier's drawing class is ending but he will beginning the beginning a new one in the future.

Eunice recommends Khanh Huynh's video:

Smith Rock paint out:

Studio 30 all day tomorrow sign up with

Kay Elmore sent us this email to tell us about things in Eugene:

Sorry I can't be there (headed for Bay Area)--but if I was, I would encourage everyone to get to the Rick Bartow retrospective in Eugene--an awesome exhibit.

Also, there is a beautiful show at the Hult--5 plein air painters---some very nice work there!
i Macchiaoli were the impressionists predecessors, sort of--only in Italy. (machia means "blobs" or "spots")


PS--All this Eugene talk made me remember to look up the dates of the Create! Eugene plein air event--info here:


Thank you all for coming and sharing your ideas and paintings today. Next meeting, Thursday, April 30. Suggested table topic: "Unsolicited advice" ....what has been your experience?

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