Finally got a chance to field test my ultralight plein air painting kit — love it. I saw a similar setup for sale at an art website for $200 and weighs 10 pounds (and does not include a chair). Being a cheap (and small of frame) Celt, I decided I could do that for under $45 and a whole lot lighter! The tripod, a terribly inexpensive aluminum Sunpak 2001UT ($15!) is just 2.3 pounds and 19.7 inches long folded up. The little chair is just over a pound ($18). I glued strong magnets (a couple bucks) to the base plate of the tripod and a 30-cent 3" steel washer to a piece of Coroplast. Even in a modest breeze it holds tight. Two pieces of the Coroplast ($8) clipped together with bulldog clips hold a paper assortment. This fits in my shoulder bag with my paints, brushes, and other supplies. The tripod and chair strap on top.
In September I took the leap and decided to get serious about learning to sketch and paint with watercolor and ink washes—with a plan to become good enough to use my own art in future book and conservation projects.
I started with books by Cathy Johnson and Clare Walker Leslie, two of the best nature illustrators and teacher-authors. But I need to see things demonstrated, just reading about watercolor was not enough. So I discovered both Craftsy.com and Artclick.tv. Both have excellent, affordable tutorials you can buy individually, or in the case of Artclick.tv, subscribe monthly for unlimited access.
I discovered I love color theory, and particularly love painting in triads, especially Daniel Smith watercolors (made in Washington). Right now favoring old-fashioned tint-like colors and pen-and-ink. And I rediscovered how much I love my old Montblanc, a gift 30 years ago from Jonathan. The Montblanc is charged with Platinum Carbon waterproof ink, and a Vintage Parker 75 has a soft, soluble black. Also experimenting with brush pens, with J.Herbin Lie de Thé, a sepia color.
Daniel Smith's Primatek Genuine mineral paints are particularly gorgeous; this hummingbird's gorget is Rhodonite Genuine and Amethyst Genuine, which sparkles in the light.
We made a mad-dash across the Atlantic in July-August to meet up with a few colleagues and friends, including the dashing and lovely Tom Sheppard of Desert Winds Publishing and author of the venerable Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide (for which he recruited Jonathan as co-author in a massive new update released this spring.). Here we are at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. More images here.
Overland Expo, our do-it-yourself-adventure travel event, added a second show in North Carolina this past October. It was a fantastic success. After the event in Asheville, we took some time to explore the Outer Banks and learn to flyfish in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Meanwhile Jonathan finished up work as the new co-author of the seminal Vehicle-dependent Expedition Guide, the most respected manual for global exploration by self-suffient means. Tom Sheppard is a legend and a gentleman, and we have enjoyed working with him immensely. Our ExploringOverland.com has become the Americas distributor for the book, which is now shipping.
And we spent an amazing, expected month this past February driving from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Arequipa, Perú. We'll release a story on the trip in the upcoming Overland Sourcebook: Your guide to adventure.
Update: We've released a new story about the trip on ExploringOverland.com/explore
On November 7 - 8, 2013, the South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO) hosted the first annual Maasai Cultural Festival at the historic Olegorsaille site in southern Kenya. Hundreds of Maa-speaking people, dignitaries, and politicians from around Kenya attended, shared ideas for how to ensure their cultural future, and to commit to a common festival every year to celebrate, conserve, and share their unique culture. We provided donated photography and videography for the project through our charity, ConserVentures.
We have finalized the print and digital versions of a 112-page book detailing the work of the October 2012 shield-building workshop in southern Kenya. This book is the final visual product we have created for the Maasai community that initiated the cultural conservation program. We are printing 125 copies and are delivering them to the Maasai in November 2013. Please see our notification on the ConserVentures website for more images and ordering information. ConserVentures.org/done