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Old 12-01-2014, 12:09 AM
markhwebster markhwebster is offline
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homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

I've been combining hiking and painting for a couple decades now and have come up with a lightweight system to carry wet canvases (boards), and the easel a few miles from the car.

Pastels have been my main medium until this fall, when I switched to oils. I bought the Raymar wet canvas carrier, and it is ok, but my boards were a little too thick for it. I started out painting on 3/16 inch plywood left over from lining my truck bed.

So, rather than ordering more from Raymar, I made my own, and made them a skosh wider to accomodate both standard 1/8 inch Masonite (MDF) boards, and the 3/16 inch furniture grade plywood, both of which can be found at Home Depot.

If you have ever tried to backpack several wet paintings, you know that you basically need a shelving unit, with the paintings being the shelves that slide in and out. They should only touch the shelving unit (wet canvas carrier) on their unimportant edges...preferably only the outer 1/4 inch or less.

Home Depot has 1/4 and 3/8 inch square "dowels" in lengths of 3 feet. I used the 1/4 inch size to make rails for my 12 x 16 inch carrier.

I figured the 16 x 20 inch size would be more likely to sag, so I used thicker rails there ( 3/8"). But I didn't want the rails to mark the painting any more than necessary, so I rounded the 3/8 inch rails with a rasp file. I glued the rails in with wood glue, and short nails, pre-drilling the "dowels" so they wouldn't split. I used oak for the side frame.

The big 16 x 20 inch wet canvas carrier weighs 3 pounds empty, and it can carry 8 paintings.

This big box may turn out to just be a storage box in the car for wet paintings. I may still try to figure out a way to carry 2 big boards face to face in my backpack. I'm thinking about some kind of 4 cornered elastic thing that holds two wet paintings face to face, rigidly without allowing them to touch.

This is my 16 x 20 box, 3 pounds empty including lid:





In case you've never seen one of these, in the wider slots (1/2"), you put two wet paintings back to back.







As you may be able to see here, I used 3/8 inch wood rails, glued and nailed in place every 1/2 inch. I also left a 1/4 inch gap for a single painting on the outer edges, for a total capacity of 8 wet paintings. I'm hoping the paintings themselves can form the outer sides of the box, but if not, I may glue on some outer plates of 1/2 inch foam core.




The photos below show my 12 x 16 inch box. I made it big enough to handle 12 x 18, and built an adaptor to make it work with 11 x 14 as well. I got this idea from Raymar, and the other wet canvas box makers who all sell adaptors.





I use a full size carbon fiber tripod called the Gitzo Mountaineer GT-0531. It weighs 1.6 pounds without the ball head. It is amazingly rigid, but priced accordingly around $500 if you can still find it. I bought it back when I was working full time in web design.



With any camera tripod, you need a shelf. Since this is thin walled carbon fiber, I decided the shelf should attach to the metal head where the tripod is strongest.

I like to mess around with sheet metal and drill presses, so I built a little clamp on shelf pictured below:







I had an old steel Italian easel sold by Daniel Smith from last century. I loved the way it allowed me to paint any size from 5 x 7" up to 24 x 36". But those steel legs had to go, too heavy!

I took just the important part (slider bar with painting clamps) and mounted a 1/4" aluminum plate that would allow it to connect with the quick release plate on my Manfrotto ball head. I drilled and tapped several holes of 1/4 x 20 in case I stripped one out in the field.





The whole easel, which weighs 4 pounds ready to paint. This thing is solid, no wiggles at all:



I plan to give this new oil painting system a work out in the coming weeks. Painting indoor still lifes and portraits is fun, but I much prefer working outside in the sunshine.
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Old 12-01-2014, 05:48 AM
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Yorky Yorky is online now
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Very ingenious Mark, however your externally sourced images are too large and distort the thread. We prefer you upload your pictures to wetcanvas and stick to the maximum 800 pixels wide images limit.

Doug
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Old 12-01-2014, 11:29 AM
markhwebster markhwebster is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Oh jeez, sorry, I will fix that. I do design work on computers, so I have two big dual monitors and often forget that many people don't.
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Old 12-01-2014, 01:41 PM
patrickart patrickart is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

neat idea
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Old 12-02-2014, 09:34 PM
coolside coolside is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Sweet! Love the easel & shelf. Too bad that tripod is so expensive, tho. I have not found one I can afford that isn't wobbly. I like your simple box, too. I used those square dowels and glued them on to cardboard & folded it into a box for carrying panels. Pretty flimsy :-)
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Old 12-09-2014, 02:17 PM
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Great ideas! Question for you unrelated to your topic - what type of camera did you use to shoot the close-ups? Very crisp.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:49 PM
**Kathryn** **Kathryn** is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Thanks for sharing. I'm working on a way to create a carrier that enables me to carry/ship art of different sizes. I have several raymar carriers and they work great but I will need something larger that works with more than one size. I'm planning a plein air vacation and will need something that is cheap to ship and allows me to set the work into the slots to dry/store while out and about. I like the open sides, but three pounds to me is still too heavy.
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Old 01-11-2015, 02:55 PM
markhwebster markhwebster is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

I just finished a 2 week painting vacation with this system. I mostly used my Raymar multi-size carrier in the backpack as it holds up to 12 x 16, and used these wood carriers for storing wet ones in the car. The Raymar is a little too flexible in the outermost slot, facing out. I had too much in my backpack and some gear bent in the side of the Raymar and ruined a painting. Fortunately the painting wasn't very good anyway :-)

The Raymar is a fine system, but just be aware it is flexible cardboard.

I think now, based on my vacation experience, that the ideal solution is the two boxes I have now for storage in the car, but I'm going to build one more box that is only about one inch thick. It will be just like the boxes shown above but thinner. The sides will be removable gessoed 1/4" 16 x 20 painting boards, while the single middle slot will be for two back to back 1/8" 12 x 16 boards. That means a thin, light box for two 16x20 and two 12x16's. I will only backpack this new thin (light) box, and put the daily paintings in the bigger storage boxes in the car.

Now that I'm back home, I'm taking my little plein air sketches and upscaling them to larger, more finished studio paintings. It's a fun process.
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http://www.websterart.com/html/still-lifes-v4.php
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:08 PM
**Kathryn** **Kathryn** is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Thanks so much for sharing. I'm headed out on a 2 week painting trip - flying out and renting a car and I'm debating on sizes etc. I'm a bit confused about your "Raymar multi-sized carrier" How are you getting multisized in one box. I assume your having one side of each size the same such as 9x12, 12x12, 16x12??

I've traveled before with 9x12 being my largest size, but I'm finding this to be too confining and would like explore larger paintings. Maybe not 16 x 20. I can only imagine my shipping bill returning home.

I'm curious how many paintings you did during your 2 weeks - 2 per day some @16 x20?

I like your idea of having the wood slot boxes in your car - especially if this is a driving trip.I'll remember this for the future. Unfortunately, I can't see flying nor shipping these. I was thinking I would have my raymar carrier to transport the painting to the car( thanks for the warning about the outer slot) and then find some way to stack the paintings with some sort of spacers (wherever I stay) until they are dry to the touch and ready for shipment.

I appreciate your sharing.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:11 PM
Orange26 Orange26 is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Nice canvas carrier, I should make one for myself.
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Old 01-13-2015, 03:28 AM
markhwebster markhwebster is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Quote:
Originally Posted by MChesleyJohnson
Great ideas! Question for you unrelated to your topic - what type of camera did you use to shoot the close-ups? Very crisp.

I shoot with a full frame Canon 6D DSLR, paired with a Canon 24-105L 4.0 lens. But really any DSLR with a decent lens could shoot those pictures. Probably most of the sharpness is because the pictures are so large. I did not know that you were supposed to keep them 800 pixels wide here. I am hosting them offsite, rather than uploading them.

I also use some special tricks in Photoshop CC (image>image size>resample>bi-cubic(smooth gradients) which retains sharpness.

Self hosting avoids the automatic compression that happens when you upload to a board like this, where they might get auto resized by a php jpg algorythm, as is often seen on Facebook.
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I am living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
http://www.websterart.com/html/still-lifes-v4.php
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Old 01-13-2015, 03:57 AM
markhwebster markhwebster is offline
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Re: homemade wet canvas carrier and easel

Quote:
Originally Posted by **Kathryn**
Thanks so much for sharing. I'm headed out on a 2 week painting trip - flying out and renting a car and I'm debating on sizes etc. I'm a bit confused about your "Raymar multi-sized carrier" How are you getting multisized in one box. I assume your having one side of each size the same such as 9x12, 12x12, 16x12??

I've traveled before with 9x12 being my largest size, but I'm finding this to be too confining and would like explore larger paintings. Maybe not 16 x 20. I can only imagine my shipping bill returning home.

I'm curious how many paintings you did during your 2 weeks - 2 per day some @16 x20?

I like your idea of having the wood slot boxes in your car - especially if this is a driving trip.I'll remember this for the future. Unfortunately, I can't see flying nor shipping these. I was thinking I would have my raymar carrier to transport the painting to the car( thanks for the warning about the outer slot) and then find some way to stack the paintings with some sort of spacers (wherever I stay) until they are dry to the touch and ready for shipment.

I appreciate your sharing.

I have this Raymar multisize carrier.

It does two wet boards of each of the following sizes: 11x14, 8x10, 12x16.

But having used it, I'd recommend the standard 12 x 16 size, not the multicarrier. Reason being is you can put two 9 x 12's in one of the 12x16 slots, which gives you the option of big and small.

I did do one 16 x 20, but it was a failure. I feel that 12 x 16 is plenty big outside, in oil. Perhaps when I'm better I can work faster at larger sizes. 15 x 20 was my standard size at pastel...but they are much easier to backpack.

As far as how many did I do in two weeks: I worked on a morning and an afternoon painting each day. The light is reasonably stable for 2 to maybe 3 hours. I would return to the same spot, at the same time of day for up to 3 days in a row. So in 3 days, I did 2 paintings. I did 9 paintings in two weeks. Only 5 of which were keepers.

I have been known to paint the morning light, noon light, and afternoon light, but that was with pastels...which seem easier for me. It's hard work doing 3 in a day...sometimes its nice to just hike around, scout out locations, and get some exercise.

I'm a beginner at oils, so more experienced artists would have better advice.

Good luck with the spacer idea for drying in the hotel room...I've not heard of anything yet other than a plastic shelving unit from home depot.

As I said, the Raymar is ideal from the standpoint of being light...and you watch that one vulnerable slot. People are making them out of foam and duct tape, there are some great tutorials online when you search for "homemade wet canvas carriers".

Have a great trip! I will also be painting a lot outdoors in the coming months, perhaps I will come up with some better ideas.
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I am living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
http://www.websterart.com/html/still-lifes-v4.php
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