Check out more of Judy's en plein air paintings from Europe, Africa and Australia, and in the USA and Puerto Rico.
Check Judy's Drawings, or Alla Prima pages for images of portrait demos.
AS PROMISED: Review of three weeks' use of the Easy L Lite, in Greece and Istanbul: very happy!Having done nearly 30 paintings in the past three weeks on mainland Greece, the Peloponnese, the Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos, and in Istanbul, I can say that the Easy L met my every hope. It was wonderful to have a sturdy, lightweight, convenient easel that set up in seconds without a hitch, survived a sudden drenching downpour without warping, and held every size and shape panel I wanted to use for plein air painting.
I have the standard box, and as a pastelist don't need the brush holder, palette, or brass hooks. I'd thought I'd use the brass hooks for my roll of paper towels, but find that the carrying strap works fine for that purpose. Note: I bought the box without the tripod and am using a light-weight German tripod.
My framer cut a piece of black non-warping foam core to fit in the outside slot of the "wet painting" carrier on the back of the box, so I can keep small odd-sized painting panels in there, but I only used it once, since I paint on sizes that don't usually fit that space. I've asked the company if they will make me a box that doesn't have the "wet painting carrier" feature, which will result in an even slenderer box, and they have told me they will do that and it will be ready next month.
I will then have two Easy L's - the standard and one custom-made for a pastelist.
My Great American Art Works pastel box of 60 half-sticks fits perfectly in the Easy L, with just room for a large fat charcoal stick and a charcoal pencil and kneaded eraser if wanted, so that is a great convenience as the box of pastels then takes up no additional room in luggage. I found that the Easy L and the tripod fit easily into my Club Glove duffel along with my painting panels and clothing for three weeks, with extra room and weight to spare. For painting in narrow steep city streets and on mountainsides, I carried everything I needed - Easy L with box of pastel and charcoal, tripod, roll of paper towels) in one of the featherlight Signilar recyclable washable bags over my shoulder, with hands free for a hiking stick and the balance one needs in her 80th year.
Bottom line: Beautifully made, sturdy, smoothly operating, convenient, light weight easel for travel and plein air painting. Served me well on rough terrain and in bad weather with no problems at all. Very fast set up and take down. Easily packable for artists wanting to take only one piece of luggage for foreign or long-distance travel.
Equipment advice: Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) - Soltek Easels
The people who were with me advised that the company should give me a new easel, not just repair it. I have just talked with the manager of the company and he says he's sorry I'm having trouble with the easel but the warranty is for only a year (I bought it slightly over a year ago) and he "cannot" send me another easel. He says "the best" the company can do is for me to ship it back (at my expense) and they will repair it. I am about to leave to teach in Florida, and shortly after that to teach and paint in Greece, Istanbul, Prague, Amsterdam and southern France, and then back again to Monhegan, as well as various other workshops in the United States. I cannot be without a portable easel and cannot wait months for a usable Soltek. Of course the company "can" replace my easel. He chooses not to. He tells me "If you hadn't procrastinated" and had called before the year was up, he could have replaced the easel. So it's MY fault. And he's - repeatedly - "sorry." He chooses not to replace what is either a lemon or simply a fragile design. I wonder how many other lemons there are waiting to be bought? Or is it just too fragile for its design, and needs to be made of better materials? I am warning all my students that, if they hope for a Soltek, this is the kind of experience they may expect for the high price.
March 2014A man from Soltek contacted me and said that HE, not the man I talked with on the phone, is the manager. He said he will send a replacement part and I can fix the easel; he compares my asking for a new easel to expecting a new car when mine has a broken windshield. However, this is not a windshield - it's the integrity of the whole body -- unsafe to drive. He told one artist who wrote to the company in response to my caveat that the company prides itself on its good customer relations and he is in touch with me to "take care of " me. I have just received a package containing a replacement for the second broken part to my Soltek easel. I had told the (second) man claiming to be the manager that this was not a satisfactory solution to the problem. He has ignored that.
Meanwhile, I am researching other easels and learning a great deal from colleagues with many years of hands-on research and satisfactory experience which I will share. I have been hearing from artists that they agree with my comments regarding the Soltek. One person has posted on my Facebook page that I must have a lemon. If so, apparently there are a lot of lemons out there, and that artist is rarely fortunate.
Caution: my experience shows that (1) a company employee lied to me when I phoned; (2) the company representative does not stand behind the product; (3) blamed me for their choice not to replace the easel; (4) minimized the severity of the problem. Do not, therefore, take the word of anybody in the company if you are told that they have "taken care of" the problem. If and when the company ever does that, I will let everybody know right away.
Bottom line: I am returning the part to the company which needs it because, as Mr. Wilcox sees it, any company that would replace an expensive failed product when it could send the customer a cheap part "would go out of business." So the Soltek is made of cheap parts and doesn't have the resources to stand behind the product. I am not in the business of repairing wrecks, so will take a new easel on my travels and scrap the Soltek.
March 12 UpdateI've just received an e-mail from Mr. Todd Wilcox (the second representative of the company to tell me HE is the manager) telling me that if I box up the easel, he will have UPS pick it up at the company's expense so the company can "make sure it is fully repaired and fully functional."
I have repeatedly told them that is not satisfactory. I have told him that when and if the company sends me a (new) replacement easel, I will put the broken one in the box the new one arrives in and send it back to them.
This product is not worth the trouble of my boxing it up, waiting for it to be picked up, waiting (it was months last time waiting for the missing part) for it to be returned while being without a portable easel for my travels. To say nothing of the aggravation of trying to get the company to do what is right.
Meanwhile: I have just received the preliminary plans for a 12-day painting tour of Australia for next year, August into early September. Details will be posted as soon as we have the plans firmed up. So if any of you would like to start thinking about a wonderful adventure, this is a good time to do so -- and to be sure you have a reliable, convenient, light weight easel to travel with.
March 20 Installment - Madison ArtJacob, at Madison Art (whence I bought the Soltek easel) is trying hard to "take care of" the problem that the Soltek company will not deal with.
His latest offer, which I have rejected, is that he will "ask Soltek to send [me] a shipping box with a pre-paid label... [and] maybe [i] will at least have a somewhat usable spare easel for all the money and aggravation [I] spent.
I have repeatedly stated clearly that the only solution I consider acceptable is that Soltek send me a new easel to replace the one I have which is either a lemon from the start or a faulty product. For some reason, neither Jacob nor Soltek is registering this repeated "broken record." My response to this is puzzlement - what is interfering with my communication and how do I get heard? - and irritation: I'm being discounted and ignored while they come up with different plans.
Meanwhile, Madison Art has no negative reviews posted on their site which describes the Soltek as "durable." I wonder if Madison will post my review?
I now have a new different easel, which comes highly recommended and I have 'test-driven it" and will give it a strenuous workout when I leave for nearly a month in Europe shortly. I will report on what I think of my new "set up" when I return. The Soltek, meanwhile, is scrap.
— Judith B. Carducci, PSA
Workshops Testimonials, including Judy's:
"Judy, Just wanted to let you know what a pleasure it was to meet you and watch you in action. I thought your presentation style was terrific and you related well to all levels. I knew of course that you are a special talent and now I know you are a special person as well. A rare package... Your new friend," —Michael
"Dear Judy: Just want to let you know how much I have learned from what you have said tonight, as well as from many demos and workshops you have given in the past. Thank you for your kind generosity in sharing so much of your gift, experience and thought! It is like revealing some little secrets of the universe to me each time!" —Mina
"Dear Judy, What a truly great experience it was to be your pupil for a few days! I just loved every minute of the classes, and lapped up your advice and enjoyed your lovely sense of humour. I feel so energized now, and inspired, despite my rapidly failing eyesight. You were just wonderful Judy and so full of life, love and energy. Thank you very sincerely for all you gave to me and I hope we meet again; who knows?With my love, Margot"
April 2013 :: Judith teaches at the Portrait Society of America's Art of the Portrait Conference
My Work with Portrait Society of AmericaI continue to serve on the Executive Board and the faculty of the Portrait Society of America, and as Chairman of its Cecilia Beaux Forum. I conducted the Society's Portrait Academy at the Richeson School of Art in Kimberley, Wisconsin (see www.portraitsociety.org), and attended board meetings in NYC and Tallahassee, Florida, where I served on the jury that reviewed nearly 1,600 entries for the 2007 international portrait competition. At the annual convention, "The Art of the Portrait," in May 2007, I served as moderator for plenary sessions, conducted the 2nd annual meeting of the Cecilia Beaux Forum, and did portfolio reviews.
As Chairman of the Cecilia Beaux Forum, I have overseen the creation and activities of three committees: Literature, which writes and publishes articles on past and contemporary women artists; Exhibitions, which disseminates information on major shows for women to enter, and is planning a major exhibition of art by distinguished women in a prestigious venue; and Mentoring, which has begun a program of scholarships for women to receive career consultation with the eminent career and marketing consultant Calvin Goodman of California, and has designed an ongoing mentoring program for both men and women members of the Portrait Society. The Forum has a web page which is part ofwww.portraitsociety.org., and the quarterly journal includes a letter by me in each issue, as well as an article on a past or contemporary woman artist.
2012 Workshop Highlights
2008-2011 Workshop Highlights
October 2011 :: Judith teaches "Body Parts For Portraitists: Ears, Eyes and Hands" —as part of The Portrait Academy, put on by the Portrait Society of America and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Faculty were: Judith B. Carducci, Jean-Paul Tibbles (from England), Gwenneth Barth-White (from Switzerland), Rose Frantzen (from Iowa) and her husband, Chuck Morris.
Judith adds "My charcoal sketch (charcoal, black and white conte' crayon, on full sheet of gray Canson Mi-Tientes paper) is of 'Edward.'" (Private collection)
Judith demonstrates for three educational DVDs in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico from Signilar