Ben Sherar click to stop start    
For the past few months I've been regularly painting my way around the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia with fellow oil painter Peter Barker
We've put up a new website documenting what looks to be a year long project at least - follow the journey at:

www.swanpleinair.com !



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Road trip avec l'artiste merveilleux, mon ami Marion :


And I got my sketch done, again ! Brilliant, I wish I could draw like that, and so quick !

We got to meet two great south-west artists who's work I've admired for years:

Sam Broadhurst, Ah Sam - a man after mine own heart, refining and testing his own oils and mediums ! White tests, yellowing tests, cracking tests, draws and draws of oils and mediums and varnishes and other magical paint nerd stuff that gets me mentally salivating, was this guy sent from heaven ?!
All with such thick decisive brushstrokes on his little paint-sketches and a Morso guillotine taking up half a bench in his studio just like mine ..


John Garde, who along with his wife Su Berghuis-Garde run Tinkahill Studio & Gallery in Dunsborough, unfortunately Su wasn't in but we both loved her stunning use of colour, and an amazing long chat to John with some possible painting tours in the pipeline for him & me up north, back where I belong in the dirt and heat but with a paintbrush this time ...

We got to see their working studios as part of the Margaret River Region Open Studios which happens every year for two weeks

Also dropped in to see Peter Scott and his new works but didn't have time to stay for the usual coffee as it was getting late in the day & there's the 3 hour drive back to Perth,
Well worth the two days away as I got a heap of great reference shots and now there's a plan to go back in a month and paint en plein air

Back to the studio, 8 weeks until the exhibition !!

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Here's a shot from a week ago of the new easel that I'm building,
this is just laying it out to get an idea of how big ( Big ! ) it's going to be :



I've progressed a fair way on it since this shot, but wow it's taking a while because Wandoo takes sooo long to sand,
it comes up really nice though

plus spending 4 days a week in the new studio cuts into my time on other projects like this

it doesn't look like much in this photo, but that's about 50 kilos of timber, this thing is gonna be a monster !!

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So now that I'm in the new studio, I'm going to need a new easel !

finally I've got space to put a big monstrosity of a workhorse easel, here's the design based on a few I found online :


yes, the prototype is a little small. about 1.8 metres too small ...

It's going to be counterbalanced to allow for a canvas up to 2m tall ( by what width Ben ?! Are you insane !!? )

The only problem at the moment is my penchant for fancy imported hardwoods ...
I can go with $470 worth of timber for American Rock Maple, a beautiful hard very light coloured, almost white wood, or $500 worth of timber for American Black Walnut, an even more beautiful ...

So you can see my problem.
Yes I could make it out of recycled jarrah, much like everything else within site here in Perth. Or I could go the cheaper possible option of Tasmanian oak with an ebonizing stain ...

Either way I'll be taking regular progress shots and probably making a how-to on the Instructables website to document whats probably going to be a huge woodworking project

Edit :

oh look, I could just make it out of the Wandoo I was just given ...


this thing is going to be really heavy ! It is ON

new easel here I come

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Here's my new paint box







portable with wheels !

This should make it easier to paint away from the studio, out on location.

I havent used it yet but will be bringing it along for a test drive on Saturday 4th and Saturday 11th of August,

when I'm artist in residence for the 2012 City of Belmont Art Awards, at Belmont Forum Shopping Centre



come on down and see the exhibition and watch me paint !

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I've been meaning to make one of these for a while to set up props for still life paintings. finally got around to it with some junk materials I had laying around. The light is adjustable up and down and the inside is sprayed black







and here's the first painting done with it, I had a little frame and board I wasnt using for anything else so did this as a quick experiment :







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Over the last few months I've been researching the grinding of raw pigment into my own hand-made oil paint, after trawling through hours of technical stuff I've finally got my hands dirty ( with gloves on and a respirator ofcourse ) and actually made paint



seen here is Titanium white ground in a mixture of safflower and poppy oil ( on my baby glass plate, there's now a metre-square one thats been put to good use )







the picture doesnt really show the perfect buttery texture it came out as, or how wonderfully it comes off the brush



I feel like a mad alchemist and its so much fun to paint with, I know I'm going to end up wasting alot of painting time playing with different oils and pigments

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I've been working hard on a big series of new paintings for my upcoming exhibition in August at EMERGE Art Space.



We're keeping the images under wraps until the show so I can't post any here, to make sure we have the correct level of amazement, awe and flurry of buying activity that will no doubt occur when we finally do reveal them on opening night!



so to keep everyone happy, here's some OTHER new stuff I've been doing ...



Making an etching press !

It still needs a steel plate to stop it from destroying itself in excitement when I tighten it too hard and the top part cracks.







might work, might not, needs a drill bit attached to the winder so it can be raised and lowered (much) quicker



Hold your breath for fun little etchings of toy ducks in the not too distant future





Cutting a gas bottle in half to make a furnace, to melt metal, to fill the moulds I make from the small wax sculptures I posted earlier







and the thing next to it is ...

Making a baby kiln from the guts of a hair dryer . This is part of the mould to pour the refractory into to house the element



again, it might not work but it'll be fun to make







and ...

Playing with my new Kiln !

( outside, ofcourse )







but mostly painting, painting painting painting









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Here's something else I've been slowly working on :











The small ducks are going to be bottle openers and the trout and wolf heads will be knife pommels, all cast in brass after I make the moulds



These are wax copies that came out of silicon moulds that I made from the originals

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