29 July, 2018. I’ve been pretty busy this past week getting the Art Department ready for the start of classes in a couple of weeks. Long story short: Not a lot of time to paint or sketch – but plenty of opportunity to be pondering ideas.

Occupying my thoughts has been gouache and limited color palettes. Gouache continues to intrigue me as a media, and I love how a minimalist approach to color results in harmonious combinations. A surprising number of people have asked me about using gouache as a plein air media, so just to prove to the more incredulous I made this 6 x 9 inch sketch. The colors on my palette are Perylene Violet, Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, and white – the jury is still out for me on this particular triad, by the way.

I tried as best I could to make a photo from the same point-of-view as my painting position, but the wide angle lens of the iPhone tends to exaggerate reality somewhat. I wanted something to look at to later compare the location color to what results from the use of the limited palette. Sketchers can’t get hung up, however, on making a “photographic” color match. In fact, I think a successful sketch relies more on value contrasts, color massing, and a certain degree of loose invention.

One other thing that’s occupied my thoughts has been field kit. I make no secret that I try to keep my kit as minimal as possible. I’ve got a wonderful plein air pochade box that I once used when I still painted in oils, but it – pretty much like every other similar set up – just feels cumbersome to me. I want something that I can either carry under my arm or, even better, in my hip pocket. It’s why I prefer a sketchbook and a few pocket tools.

But I want to be able to supplement that effort with kit that allow me to work a little larger from time to time, or to use for demonstration purposes. This is why I decided to just build my own, relying on a sturdy light weight tripod that I already own and a lightweight platform constructed from high grade wood. A tripod socket was installed on the underside of the platform.

The platform – I don’t have a name for this thing! – works really well and is very sturdy. It’s light enough that I can carry it along as a drawing board. I plan to add a thin lip along the bottom edge so my brush doesn’t roll off!

These acts of experimentation is fun and I like that I was able to “field test” my invention while also continuing to experiment with gouache and color.


  1. 28pwilson · July 29, 2018

    Mark I was trying to show you a picture of what I use, foam core instead of wood, which is ultra light. But I can’t get it posted on this note. I’m trying to repost your blog post on mine and add the pictures, which has proven to be even more difficult! What was I thinking? Anyway, I use 1/2” foam core with a quick release attached via a small X-shaped piece of wood, reducing weight.
    And I’m loving the minimal palette you’re using!

    • azorch · July 29, 2018

      Peg, the wood I’m using is almost as light as FoamCore. I think it may be lighter than Masonite even. But not nearly as light as the plastic corrugate I’ve been using – just much stiffer.

      • 28pwilson · July 29, 2018

        Nice! What kind of wood is it?

      • azorch · July 29, 2018

        I want to say that it’s finish grade Birch. I’ve more in the studio if you’d like to give it a try.

  2. 28pwilson · July 29, 2018

    Reblogged this on 28pwilson and commented:
    Here is a post on ideas for minimal equipment for Plein Air work. I will add a couple of pictures of my light weight board.

  3. lepastelbleu · July 29, 2018

    sorry, but why do you use ocher color? tends to dirty the greens … better yellow chrome with an infinitesimal part of carmine red or violet, and ultramarine, much light, in my opinion

    • azorch · July 29, 2018

      I agree with your assessment of yellow ochre.

  4. lepastelbleu · July 29, 2018

    I almost never use earthy colors, they create a lot of problems, with the primary colors you’re not mistaken and you do not slip into dirty color problems and to lower the tone I put the complementary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s