Starting to Plein Air on a Budget!

Starting to Plein Air on a Budget!

How to get started into Plein Air Painting on a Budget!

think of it as buying and learning on a payment plan


  • 1 Sketch Pad 9”x12” Canson Classic or Arches Pads in :Drawing in Sketch, Drawing or Creme
  • graphite pencil F, 3b
  • Powdered Graphite and store it in a small make up container for travel screw on top/ leak proof
  • ArtBin Twisterz 3.9oz large short container great to store dry products-powdered charcoal
  • Paper Towel 1 sheet to smear the graphite
  • stump and Tortillions $4.91
  • kneaded eraser
  • Kum Pencil Sharpener $11.76
  • Clear Mesh Bag with Zipper 5ish”x8ish” for drawing supplies
  • IMG_4778

All the basic art principles taught in our art program in Atlanta in the drawing classes and painting classes:
LEARN TO MEASURE FORM LIFE, DRAW SIMPLE FLAT SHAPES, FIGURE GROUND RELATIONSHIPS drawing form life is hard enough than having to deal with the paint issues. 

Bring Your Own Chair

Camp Time Roll a Chair $49.99 amazon

travels and packs up well, I love the back support and the height off the floor for my legs.

Buy a back pack:
Back pack to carry everything, water, food, bug spray, and art supplies

Redwing Back Pack 44 or 50 if you plan on painting later I recommend one of these back packs and it is depending on the amount of stuff you pack
with the Couture Compact all you need is the 44, the Standard Couture requires the Redwing 50 ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441550544&sr=8-1&keywords=redwing+44

oil/ watercolor/ draw using an easel

TRIPOD your own tripod is free! and the palettes all connect to all easels
Tripod for any paint box will work, start with your own tripod. if you do not have a tripod you might want a lighter and smaller one for transportation

Silk F740 economy Tripod $49.95 closed size 21 to 58 inches 2.8lbs

Silk 8000 Tripod 49.00 Closed size 23” to 59” to 3.6lbs
has a slight more stability but is taller when packing airplane flights each item your bag gets another lb heavier and it adds up. ie=UTF8&qid=1441548456&sr=8-5&keywords=silk+8000
Guerrilla Painter No. 17 Flex Easel $73.78
great canvas/ drawing pad/ watercolor/ panel holder
attaches to any tripod, ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441550183&sr=8-1&keywords=guerrilla+no+17

Weather Stripping $5.65
I add Frost king EPDM Rubber Weatherseal 5/16 x1/4 weather stripping to the inside of the holder reduce the lip over hanging my art work ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441550337&sr=8-1&keywords=epdm+rubber+weather+seal +5%2F16

Guerrilla Metal panel holder

Guerrilla Metal panel holder and Coulter Standard Easel

Easel Plein Air form Art Box and Panel COULTER EASEL
Standard size $145 is great when you are not hiking, my favorite,
Perfect for mixing the Triadic Circle Palette amazing harmonies

Compact Easel $135 travels well, just a great size

Newton Air Tight Deluxe Brush Washer $39.00 ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441550716&sr=8-1&keywords=newton+air+tight+deluxe +brush+washer

Gamsol solvent

2 Clear Bag with Mesh 7″x11″ is for paints and supplies

Raymar Wet Canvas Carrier for Panels 9″x12″ or 12″x16″ $24.05

Brass Hook $4.00 from Open Box M
hooks to my Couture Palette to hang my turpentine wash tank


clear mesh bag for supplies

clear mesh bag for supplies

Paper Towel Holder    $20.00
Open Box M     Open Box M paper towel holder

Saw tooth Picture Hangers $1.94
attach the picture hanger to the wood front right side or right panel to hold the brass hook ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1441550997&sr=8-3&keywords=saw+tooth+picture+hangers

Really works Paper Towels Cleaners by case only $90 / 6 containers / 90 towels in a container
unfortunately sold by the case find a friend and share ie=UTF8&qid=1441551195&sr=8-2&keywords=really+works+hand +wipes&condition=new

Paint and Brushes

Rosemary Brush Co. Ivory Filbert for use with arches Huile Paper sizes 2-5
Robert Simmons Signet Fan Brush size 3 bristle

Robert Simmons Signet Bristle Filbert Brushes 1,2,4 works great on all other canvases other than Arches Huile

Plein Air Painting requires you the artist to focus on all the art tools which you have learned in the art classes and painting classes. at first it can be difficult simplifying and focusing. The first drawing class rule which is repeated in the painting classes 1. Breathing is good. 2. focus on the message. if rule two fails revert to rule 1. Breath[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

High School Student Wins National Art Competition

High School Student Wins National Art Competition

1st. Place at the Bob Jones National High School National Art Competition!

Congratulations to our High School Student Maggie Frick!

Maggie Frick WON: 1st Place in Painting!
First Place in Drawing!
Best of Show!

Sorry I do not have her winning drawing of ‘The Apples” and her winning drawing “the Harnet”. Since this is about Maggie the person I am hoping you will forgive me, I have requested the images.

diDomizio Arts Center is proud of our own student Maggie Frick.

Maggie has worked diligently on each art exercise. Learning not just how to do the exercise but also the concepts behind the art principle., learning when to use the principle and when not to use the same principle. Turning the principle into “ART TOOLZ TODAY”!

Since joining Our art program this last year last year, I have watch Maggie take diligent notes during the class lectures each day as well as during the explanation of the exercises. For each drawing exercise in the art drawing program Maggie has been a pleasure to teach and help. Now just starting to paint here in this photograph with her third painting she continues to flourish as she paints her way through the painting classes.
Her desire to learn and apply the art toolz she has learned have already yielded tremendous fruit.

Maggie Frick ,working on her 3rd painting, color exercise: painting with transparent oil paint colors.

Maggie Frick ,working on her 3rd painting, color exercise: painting with transparent oil paint colors.

I have seen Maggie with an openness to learn, to be TEACHABLE, To take an attitude toward doing everything she does to the best of her ability, a habit to make Excellence a way of life, I see this in her in every aspect of her life.

It is not something she can turn on or off.

Can you imagine what our life could start to be when we open our eyes and heart into avenues we never could image?

Maggie’s entire family seems to appear to have the same outlook on life as I have watched her older sister drive Maggie to art class with a smile and a heart to help each week as she carries Maggie’s art supplies into class
Regardless of what Maggie chooses I believe this outstanding young lady will succeed in anything she choses because of the amazing job her parents have done instilling such wonderful work ethic and attitude in life to be open to learn and see things in different ways
. during a social time when entitlement and self centered attitudes seem to prevail.
I see Maggie succeeding in any avenue she choses to follow. This week I mentioned another previous high school art student in class who is also talented like Maggie, Christina Flores.

christina flores 3

( Here with her Painting while in High School) after John S. Sargent’s “Breakfast Table”. ( one of the last paintings in our painting program)  I saw the same attributes in Christina.
here is Christina Completing her oil Painting after John S Sargent. amazing job!

                                                   Here is Christina Completing her oil Painting after John S Sargent. Amazing job!

I have not held it against Christina when she decided to go to Princeton to study Pre- Med instead of art.

These young people are examples of what we all could strive to be. I have complete confidence that  both Maggie and Christina  will succeed in anything they chose to pursue, because I have seen their work ethic.

It is and has been a pleasure teaching students like both Maggie Frick and Christina Flores, they give me a desire to do a better job teaching and to look for more things to teach in new ways.

In my conclusion I say to their parents and to the students,

THANK YOU for allowing me to be part of your lives.

Chris diDomizio
diDomizio arts center

Plein Air Painting List

Plein Air Painting List

My list is from someone who wishes to enjoy the day and not have it be WORK. My goal is to use this time to refine my drawing skills by applying the 19c.French Academy’s dot to dot – in our art program in the art classes and in the painting classes we call ” Touch-Point-Drawing concepts of site drawing. As our goal in all of our art classes we are to refine our seeing and drawing of shapes both positive and negative shapes. To take the classroom art school exercises and to use them in the ousted classroom To look for figure ground relationships, To capture the Essence of my senses are experiencing. To look beyond any preconceived ideas of what to paint and allow a soaking in to experience the moment. To refine and map out a my storyline based on that discovery. Just as you are taught in our art program through our art courses So, here is my list of Art Tools:

Chris diDomizio working in Oil Paint and Dylan Scott Pierce working in Watercolor

Chris diDomizio working in Oil Paint and Dylan Scott Pierce working in Watercolor

  • Camp Time Roll-a-Chair sold at amazon (1st to remember to enjoy the day)
  • Coulter Plein Air Easel from Art Box and Panel ( I use the Standard size but my wife uses the Compact size and it looks very appealing to me, I just ordered the Compact for myself – hiking and for flights. I like the box only not the kit. $135-$145. I lean toward the Compact if you are buying One.
  • Geurrilla offers a metal panel ( canvas Holder) Guerrilla Painter Guerrilla No.17 Flex Easel $75.00 ( –amazon gorilla link) which is great for drawing, watercolor, and oil painting. I would strongly consider ordering the box from Coulter and the canvas holder from Guerrilla and use your own easel.
  • I have different Plein Air Boxes they are all great, I like Coulter because the Standard size has twice the palette space of the other Plein Air boxes and it allows me to mix the Triadic Circle!
  • I love Arches Huile Oil Primed Paper 9×12 favorite size)  or 12×16 and tape it to a piece of 12″x16″x⅛” hardboard – the hard boards after cut : I find that sanding the edges and a water based poly urethane to cover the back side and edges keeps the hardboard flakes from falling on my wet paintings while in the wet canvas carrier. try doing 2-4 paintings on a single 12×16 panel, this way you spend 40 minutes a painting  
  • Paper Towel Holder by Open Box M $20.00
  • Raymar Art –  Wet Painting Carrier  I like 9×12 but if you paint larger the 12×16 is largest I would go. I love using the 12×16 and dividing it into 4 different studies on the same page. Great for travels abroad when having wet carrier space is limited when you can have 4 paintings on a single page..
  • Rosemary Brush Company “Ivory Filbert” sizes 2,3,4,5. is really the only brushes I need outside.
  • Rosemary Eclipse Long filbert size 1,2
  • Bristle fan brush size 3, Signet bristle brushes 2,4,. will not work on Arches Huile paper but is great for other surfaces.
  • I will try the Rosemary brush co Ivory long Filbert shortly and let you know.
  • Brush washer tank for plein air which seal closed to prevent leakage, I like the size close to 20 ounces.” Newton Air-Tight Deluxe Brush Washer”.
  • Mechanical pencil and eraser but, I draw with a brush
  • Gamasol cleaner, when I fly I will mail –U.P.S. Gamasol to the hotel in advance ( even to bellagio, Italy next may 2016)
  • Bestbrella  umbrella for keeping light off both  my canvas  and palette, this is a must for me, I like the air vents which allows the air to pass through. I purchased cheap quick Clips from Home Depot to attach the backpack to the center of the easel for wind.
  • Kelty back pack size is based on the Coulter box I use, my wife’s Compact uses Kelty 44, the Standard size Coulter Easel uses Kelty 50.
  • I tone my palette under my glass with a sheet of canvas pad. 4 parts Ivory black and 1 part raw umber and thin it out with Gamasol and wipe off till smooth and making a medium dark value. I then cut glass to go over the toned canvas for a neutral grey back ground, the reddish wood color can make it difficult for me to see the greenish and reddish colors accurately. When home I paint in the morning before work I will keep a sheet of glass with my colors premixed and stored in the freezer so I am ourt the door and painting the lake in painting in 3 minutes. I use diamond tip brads from our frame shop to hold the glass in place.
  • Bubble wrap  under the glass and toned canvas paper.
  • I tone the wood palette a neutral grey by using linseed oil with my grey paint mix ( without white) to seal the wood. This would allow me to not have to use a glass palette anymore. By using linseed oil 3-5 coats ( wipe off extra oil between coats) will saturate the wood with oil which will keep the wood from absorbing the oil in the paint while the paint is sitting mixed on the wood palette, keeping my palette wet longer. I dislike cleaning the paint off the wood and having oil paint all over me, toxic, so the tone is a back up if the glass breaks, it has not broken yet.
  • When I cannot freeze my paint while traveling, I scrape my paint daily. Since I am limited to how many Raymar Wet Painting Carriers I can pack, I use  Walnut Oil Alkyd from M. Graham to help dry the painting dry over night! My thought is by the end of the trip I could stack some of the dry painting sheets and reserve my Wet canvas carrier for just that, wet canvases.
  • Really Works Hand Wipes, but, i put them in a baby wipe rectangular box. the round tube the art wipes from different art companies top keeps coming off when in the back pack.
  • Small Items: drinking water with a top which does not spill!, paper towels!!!!!, snacks, small  plastic garbage bags!!!! , Hat, bug spray, suntan lotion Warning: if it does not fit in the back pack you might rethink bringing it. Our first trip we / I carried / a cooler on a ½ plus mile hike.  Never again.
  • I store my paints in the Art Bin 429048 , fits in my back pack, protects from punctures and travels on flights well.
  • small 2 oz. metal “painting medium”  cup
  • iPhone because who is kidding whom when a bird lands in your scene – it is gone in seconds, or a gondolier shows up…( ok I knew he would show up) where are the rules which say you cannot capture and add? This is about my time, my day, to enjoy and step into something I have been called to do and enjoy doing it.
    Chris diDomizio Plein Air Grand Teton's Jackson Hole

    Chris diDomizio Plein Air Study “Grand Teton’s Jackson Hole”




    Chris diDomizio Plein Air Study ” Autumn on the Davidson River, N.C.

    If we do our job teaching the art program through all the drawing and painting classes in our art program this step into plein air painting will gradually become a desire fulfilled.  Happy painting as the painting classes head outside..

What Makes a Painting Overworked?

What Makes a Painting Overworked?

What Makes a Painting Seem Overworked?

After going to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York for the John S. Sargent Watercolor Show with Dylan Scott Pierce we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and noticed a particular area in one of John S. Sargent’s paintings. As I looked at the hand I saw that there seemed to be an appearance of different marks made by different brushes.

Degas told John Singer Sargent – “…that anyone could keep a painting fresh and spontaneous in an hour and a half, but try to keep a painting fresh when you work on it for three years,” as did Degas in his Ballerina series!

Degas went on to say to Sargent
“…that if you do not like the stroke you put down than scrape it and do it again”.

Degas Classically trained Charcoal Drawing

Degas Classically trained Charcoal Drawing

This prompts my wild imagination, so here goes… Just Imagine Degas on stage trying to frantically capture the ballerinas who are frantically changing their clothes. As they peek through the curtain waiting to go back on stage, the ballerinas are not ready.

Degas has too many ballerina’s in his scene, too many with unfinished arms and areas not painted, yet he knows they are seconds from leaving his scene! Paint flying!, Areas unpainted!.





Sounds great, Plein Air Painting at it’s best!

Degas did not do many of those paintings on stage. He painted from photographs. Degas has a desired message, to make the viewer feel the ballerina’s feelings, as well as his. He did this through the mark he made, one at a time, analyzing each stroke and questioning whether that stroke added to his message. He did this for years while working on The Ballerina paintings.




John S. Sargent's painting: "The Wyndham Sister's"

John S. Sargent’s painting: “The Wyndham Sister’s”

What caught my eye was the variety of brush strokes in this small area

The longer strokes have some type of oil, as a medium- longer strokes, some strokes are without a medium – much shorter. Some areas are with a fan brush, some with a sable hair used while the painting was wet, some when the painting dried and he used a bristle brush leaving a much thicker, stronger stroke.

There they were, marks made with, and without, medium. Marks are made with different textured hairs, at different times in the painting. Some marks were made after the painting had dried with and without a painting medium!

This small area was like a symphony for my eyes, a real treat. The entire painting with its color, contrast and texture was Sargent’s Orchestra.

This has the appearance of a plan!

It was easy to see wherever Sargent wanted the paint to be thick he left the area next to it thin, like a watercolor wash. This could be intentional, purposeful, and well thought out. I am not saying that the entire painting was classically thought out, but some parts were!
That left me with these thoughts about art made today :

Do we plan our painting with the Art Tools we have?
Do we use different brushes for different messages?
Do we use texture as an Art Tool Today?

             Could each stroke start to have a purpose? a thought, a reason?
But then you would have to have a story or message to tell.
Then it would have to be your art, your perspective of whatever you were seeing.

Your hope, your wants, your desires, art tools – not rules. Then you would know that The Question is the Answer.

Do you ask yourself the question to find the Art Tool to use?

Chris diDomizio

In our art program in each drawing class and each painting class the sole purpose of each exercise is to teach the artist to hold every thought captive and to be aware that something happens with each stroke. In this art school we strive to train and equip the artist to make their art. Art tools not rules. Atlanta Art Classes.

The Question is The Answer – My Story

The Question is The Answer – My Story

Is Something Missing in Your Art?

In art school I was trained to paint realistically by using art rules and principles. Though I had twelve years of art classes and art painting classes eventually I felt like something was missing in my art. I started searching for more. More what? Over time I found “more” of a lot of things. I found a magic glaze medium (thank you Rubens!), an amazing Portrait palette, and various color schemes. But in spite of a fruitful career painting realistically, I QUIT painting. Never mind studying in Italy and the national awards. Never mind that several of my private commission clients were among the wealthiest in the country, hanging my work among their Rembrandt’s, Sargent’s, and Degas’. I didn’t paint. Instead I spent the next twenty-five years teaching others how to paint at my own art school, all the while lamenting, searching, examining other work, and coming up blank. I had questions and no answers. I wanted to know more.


John S. Sargent “Mrs/ Boit” 1880-1882

I found the answer at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and spent another ten years unpacking it. It started the first time I saw John S. Sargent’s “Portrait of Mrs. Boit,” (1887). I was blown away by Sargent’s command of what I understood to be the classical art rules. As my eye followed his powerful brush strokes and bold contrast, I saw how he found specific edges and how he weaved his lost and found edges into his figure ground relationships. I saw that his beautiful and intentional placement of the color’s intensity, and how he used that intensity to move my eye, was done deliberately – and I saw how it evoked a specific mood. I saw his understanding of Monet’s color. I stood for an hour and a half…seeing.

Before that day of seeing, I had viewed some of Sargent’s work at different places, but those paintings were beyond my understanding at that time and some where solid black silhouettes that lacked dimension and so I did not find Sargent to be very impressive.


John S. Sargent “Madame Edourd Pailleron” 1879

How could he be perceived as Great? If the work is not realistic, I had thought, then it can’t be art.

But on that day in Boston, for the first time, Sargent gained my respect. He had to show me that he was better than I was for me to be able to listen to him. So I started seeing Sargent and listening to him. I saw his paint go down on the canvas as a voice, speaking something to the viewer.


John S. Sargent “Mrs.Boit” 1880-1882

John S. Sargent close up of

John S. Sargent close up of “Mrs. Boit ” 1880-1882

Sargent wasn’t done with me yet. A few days later at the Sterling Francine Clark Art Institute, I saw “A Street in Venice 1878 ” and “A Venetian Interior 1880-1882.” Sargent painted these around the same time as the Mrs. Boit portrait 1880-1882.

John S. Sargent

John S. Sargent “A Street in Venice” 1880-1882

Yet in this painting he left out the beautiful use of color.

Monet Close up

Monet Close up

He left out the figure ground relationship. And he left out most of the intentionally lost edges. Standing there I thought, why would Sargent, who was clearly better than any artist I had ever seen, leave out some of the art rules he knew and had so clearly demonstrated in another work during the same period of time?

John S. Sargent Watercolor

John S. Sargent Watercolor

Really? Sargent was messing with my brain. (And my way of life! I like things the way they are. I’m like a dog, I do things the same way. I want my bowl of food on the floor in the same place every day! This was uncomfortable for me).

John S. Sargent “A Venetian Interior” 1880-1882

John S. Sargent “A Venetian Interior” 1880-1882

As the years have gone by, I finally see Sargent. I see that all the classical art rules, taught by the traditional art academies (including the French Academy where Sargent studied and which are no longer a part of our modern art schools) are optional. I see that they must be mastered and understood so they can be used with purpose and intent, just as Sargent has done. Sargent saw, and showed me, that the “rules” of classical art are really art TOOLS!

John S. Sargent in his studio in front of ” Madam X Madam Pierre Gautreau” 1883-1884

John S. Sargent in his studio in front of ” Madam X Madam Pierre Gautreau” 1883-1884

Inside my heart, soul, and spirit I connected with his way of painting, taking each stroke captive in a thought. The way he painted was purposeful and I wanted that. I recognized Sargent was equipped to master a painting through precise steps and used the Tools like no other artist. He knew how to deliver a message to the viewer, fostering an exchange between the sitter, the viewer, and himself. Sargent’s knowledge of the classical tools, and his thoughtful application of those tools to convey his specific message, was pure genius.

John S. Sargent watercolor

John S. Sargent watercolor

The discovery of John S. Sargent’s genius back in Boston, and my later examination of his other work — and the work of others — fueled the flame inside of me in a more directed and purposeful search for “more.” The Greats discovered things that we can employ today:
Different ways to change the intensity of a color.
Different reasons you bring attention to an area.
HOW to bring attention to an area.
The different ways to make a brush stroke, and why you should use one over another.
The list goes on.

By understanding all that was already discovered and invented, we have a wealth of understanding to pull from — and we do just that at the art school I opened in Atlanta in the early nineties. The success of my art program comes from my ability to see these connections and communicate them to others. Artists are introduced to methods of drawing and painting that can help them take control over their art and achieve beautiful outcomes on purpose!

Do you want more?
Yes, I’m painting again, and this time WITH A PURPOSE ! by using Art Toolz Today! P.S. I just found out about a lovely series of brushes while attending The Portrait Society of America this May (ah, Rosemary Co.!)
Chris diDomizio

Chris diDomizio “ The Light Awakens The Darkness”

Chris diDomizio
“ The Light Awakens The Darkness”