Saturday, February 25, 2012

Palette Preparation

I think the Heritage Palettes are terrific! Most art supply store carry them or contact Cheap Joe's Art Stuff. They are small enough to tuck into a zip-lock plastic bag and they have a rubber gasket in the lid so there is less worry about paint leaking out and ruining the stuff in your suitcase! Although they are light-weight they are very sturdy. 

The smallest model has 18 wells and a white inner lid for mixing colour. 
This model also has a clear plastic tray for  mixing. 

How To Modify A Large Heritage Palette

The larger models have a solid blue case that can be easily refashioned to make a palette that is more serviceable and lighter. It only takes a few minutes!

- Remove the white trays and scour the inside of the palette with sandpaper.
- Carefully apply masking tape to edges to protect the rubber gasket and clasp.

- In a well vented area or work outdoors, lightly coat the sanded surface with white spray paint. You will need to use paint that is recommended for plastic such as patio furniture i.e. Krylon Outdoor Spaces Paint.
- Set aside to dry thoroughly, then re-coat with two or three layers.
- Remove the tape and you are all set! Now you can use the new white surface for mixing colour. It is incredibly durable!

You can snap the trays back into the palette and fill the wells with fresh paint.  My choice is to simply squeeze the paint into the palette "as is" and leave the extra pieces at home. Nice and light with plenty of mixing room!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our Gang!

I would officially like to welcome and introduce you!

Eva Heese
Carrie Mulcahy  
Carol Lorraine Fardal 
Mary Ann Zeigler  
Anne Yundt  
Margaret Westcamp  
Deanna Grant 

Linda Aycock 
Doris Wright  
Marlene Strain 
Marilyn Denner  

What a great group of painters we have for our trip!

We come from across Canada and the United States.

I hope I have everyone's name spelled correctly - if not, let me know!

Jet Setting!

Do you have your flights booked? If you need help please contact your travel agent or mine - Ingrid 905 988-9100.  

When you have your itinerary please forward it to Rosemarie at the Ottawa office. 
Telephone:1-800-810-8076 or (613) 233-1824
Fax:(613) 233-1825

What to Wear 
The dress is very casual - there is no need to bring fancy clothes and shoes. You might like to bring one nicer outfit, but there is no where that we go that casual won't work. I pack mix and match, wash and wear - makes it easier. There is a laundry mat down the street, but most people just wash socks, unders, and Ts and hang in the shower or out on drying racks in the courtyard on warm days. 

What size suitcase are you taking? 
You should check with the airlines to see what is allowed for luggage. For overseas flights most limit to 2 checked bags - max 50lb each. My plan is to only take one bag and my rolling back-pack. My suitcase is 24 x 18 x 10. It does have expendable sides that increase the depth by a couple of inches. I notice lots of people at the airports with much larger bags. 
Have you seen those nifty vacu-pack bags? I have a couple for packing sweaters - they work great! The ones I have are just "zipped" and rolled to compress the air. They are easy to use and allow you to pack more in less space. (they don't reduce the weight!) You can find them at department stores, Walmart, and good old Canadian Tire.
We do need to lug our stuff up a long set of stairs so perhaps two lighter bags would be a smart idea - just figure out a way to hook them together for wheeling though the airport.   
I have added a link to weather in Limoux at the right side of the blog. I do remember that it was on the "fresh" side. You will need to take a jacket and a sweater/sweatshirt or two.

Here are a few extra things you might want to add to your packing check list!

- Voltage converter and plug adaptor
The rooms are supplied with hairdryers, but if you bring other electrical equipment from home you will need an adapter and a voltage converter.  The power is much "hotter" in France and must be reduced with a converter. 

- extra memory card for your camera
- extra batteries or charger for your camera
- Check with your airlines for baggage limit - remember to travel LIGHT!
- liquids, gels, aerosols that are carried on to the plane are limited to containers of 100ml/100gms (3.4 oz) and must fit in ONE clear, closed, resealable plastic 1 qt bag. Do check with your airlines to confirm.
- Leave your prescriptions in their containers with your name (must match ticket) these do not need to go in a zip bag, but must be declared to screening authorities
- Wear comfie shoes and socks while flying. You will probably have to remove your shoes and put them through the x-ray

- TAG all of your luggage on the outside - include your destination
3 rue de la Mairie,
Limoux, France

- TAG all of your luggage on the INSIDE - just in case the outer tag gets ripped off. This does happen and bags are lost

- Do not carry on your paints - they must be in your checked luggage

See you soon!

Passport and Money

Is your passport up-to-date? 
If not, get this done right away!

How much and what kind of money do I need?
Although I don't know how much you personally will want to spend, I will give you an idea of what worked for me in the past. For daily expenses, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how little you need. 

Meals: Our breakfasts are great and very plentiful and most of our fantastic dinners are at arranged. These meals are already paid for in your fees. You are responsible for your lunches. These can be very simple with cheese, breads, fruit, pastries etc. purchased quite inexpensively at the market or shops in Limoux and taken along with us. Wine at dinner is provided but if you wish to have some in the evening it is very cheap! "Coca light" is not. Although traditionally dinner is served late in France, our hosts recognize that westerners prefer to dine earlier and so they accommodate us. You are responsible for just one dinner each week at a local restaurant, of your choosing, or bring something home from the market. 

Our daily activities: Visits to villages are arranged so you will experience real French life, rather than tourist traps. You will not have to be constantly putting out euros to pay for admission. 

Souvenirs and Gifts: Use your credit card for these personal purchases, or give a little painting that you did to friends or family!

Tips: If you wish to leave a small tip for a waiter it is appreciated, but not necessary. In France the tax and tip are included on the bill as "service compris" (tip included). The one time that I am sure you will want to leave a tip is at the end of our stay for our guide/translator/wonderwoman/driver at Le Monastere. Generally there are three or four dedicated people who work hard, night and day to make our stay wonderful and are deserving of our appreciation.

Shelling Out

DEBIT CARDS - Do go to your bank and ask if your debit card will work in France. There are a variety of symbols on the back that your bank will check to confirm this. Also ask which account it will work with. (Most likely only your chequing account.) You will want to be sure to have money in that account. Unless things have changed in the recent past, bank cards works only in bank machines and not at stores. 
CREDIT CARDS - work at most shops. 
  EUROS - I checked just today on the exchange rate to convert Canadian dollars to euros. You can buy 100.00 Euro for 137.52 Canadian Dollars at the Cash rate of 1.37525. The rates change daily, but this will give you an idea of the rates. Most banks will have euros on hand, but be sure to get your money changed a week or so ahead of our trip, just in case.
So to sum it up: bring along a few hundred euros and if you need more, walk up the street to the ATM machine.

Travellers Cheques - Traveller's cheques are not happily accepted, if accepted at all. Best to use cash, or Credit card in shops.

My suggestion is that you only carry in your pocket or money belt what you are comfortable with (or comfortable losing!). There is an ATM just down the street from our home base and although there is a fee to get cash, when travelling it is recommended that it is wise not to carry too much money with you. When I last checked, my bank charges $4.00 for foreign ATM service and there will most likely be a fee in France. I would rather pay $15.00 to get extra money, when I am running low, than risk a stash disappearing from my pocket or pack. We are in a very safe area and no one on my trips has had any problem, it is wise to be cautious.


Have you started to think about packing your art supplies? You will want to bring lots of fresh colour to capture the amazing French countryside. 

Large tubes of paint are better value and there won't be a concern about running out of your favourites, but generally the smaller tubes will be adequate and are certainly lighter!  My preference is Holbein Watercolour, but bring your choice of manufacturer. Remember that Artist's Quality generally gives better results.
I have included pigment code for substituting manufacturer.

Transparent Non-Staining Pigments: Cobalt Blue (PB14), Burnt Sienna (Pbr7), Raw Sienna (Pbr7 or may contain (PY43)
Transparent Staining Pigments: Marine Blue (Phthalo Blue PB15), Bamboo Green (Phthalo Green PG36), Rose Violet (Quinacridone Violet PV19)
Opaque Sedimentary Pigments: Cobalt Turquoise (PB28) or Cerulean Blue (PB35), French Ultramarine Deep PB29), Cadmium Yellow Orange (PR108), Vermillion (PR108) or Cadmium Red (PR108)
*colours that are used only occasionally: Holbein Leaf Green (PY 154, PG7), Cad Yellow (PY37), Cobalt Violet LT (PV14), Shadow Green (PBl31)

Extras...Here are a few opaque colours that are fun to try but don't purchase especially for this trip, just bring what you might have or add your "can't live without" favorites. 
Holbein Jaune Brilliant 1&2, Holbein Blue-grey, American Journey Blue Stone, Sag Harbor, Costal Fog, Coffee w Cream, Olive Green, Sour Lemon, Holbein Acrylic Gouache Ivory and Peach. 
Now is a great time to "top up" the wells of your travel palette with fresh paint and leave the lid open to allow them to solidify.
You will need to also pack fresh tubes to replenish the supply, so when you are at the art supply store or checking out on-line supplies be sure to peruse the palette department. 
I reccomend the Heritage folding palette! You will find it at a number of sources such as:
The smallest one was my favorite travel partner, but I have recently picked up one of the larger models. To modify it for mixing paints I have spray painted the interior surface with white "Patio Furniture paint". I will post a pix soon!