Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A New 5 x 7 Pochade Box

The combination of being an outdoor painter and a woodworker has resulted in me making a lot of my own painting equipment out of wood. There are five easels, five paint boxes, a couple pastel boxes, a bunch of panel holders, and I-don't-know-how-many boxes of various sizes for pencils, brushes, and other art supplies which I made and use. The problem this causes is that once I make something, I think of modifications or improvements, and then I have to make another one. And then another.

So.... Add two more pochade boxes to the list! Pictured above is one of the little 5" x 7" pochade boxes I've recently made and put to use. This pochade box is small, light and so easy to carry. The 6" x 8" and 8" x 10" pochade boxes I have are portable and often go with me on painting excursions, but they are possibly a little overbuilt and bulky. They also require their own bag for carrying. The 5" x 7" box can fit in my day pack. That will allow me to take my oils on longer hikes with ease, or take better advantage of small windows of time for painting. I'll certainly continue to make larger paintings, but little paintings can have a certain charm; an almost gem-like quality to them. That, and I had some pieces of Pennsylvania butternut wood that were asking to be made into something!

The image immediately below shows the little 5" x 7" pochade box open. The lid holds two panels. The palette slides out enabling access to paints, brushes, and other things in the bottom compartment. There is a T-nut in the bottom, attached from the inside, so the box can be mounted onto a tripod.

The brace that holds the lid open for painting is simply a sturdy piece of heavy gauge wire bent and fit into holes drilled most of the way into the side of the box and lid. For travel the brace is removed and stored inside the box. The holes for the brace may eventually wear out but for now they work great, and will be easy enough to replace if needed.

The box's versatility allows paintings to be made horizontally or vertically.

And there was just enough butternut wood to make two! That way if one of them gets dropped in a flash flood or blown over a cliff by a dust devil I have a backup. Butternut is a little on the soft side - about like pine - so it'll ding relatively easy, but it looks good, it's what I had, and it works just fine.

I took one of the little 5" x 7" pochade boxes out for a spin last Saturday. It was a day I really didn't feel like painting, and the weather was bad, but I thought I should get out and paint anyway. Besides, I had a new box to try out! It rained on me as I walked up the trail to find someplace to paint. However, the rain stopped as I set up and began to paint. The new little pochade box worked great! Here it is in action:

This is the painting I made on that rainy day:

5" x 7" Oil on Panel
On my walk back to the trail head there was an unusual sight. About fifty nighthawks were flying, swirling around above a rancher's field. I've never seen so many nighthawks in one place before. They must have been catching insects and getting ready for their seasonal migration.


Anonymous said...

James - that's a true plein air spirit!
and wow what a nice painting you did.
Congrats on your little pochade box. I must study your notes here as I purchased a rather nice cigar box with the notion to convert it into a pochade. But... that's a project some time after I get back from my Wyo trip.

Keep up the great work. You inspire!
your friend,
Susette G.

James Gunter said...

Thanks, Susette! Have fun with your new cigar box. There's lots of information on the internet about converting cigar boxes into pochade boxes.

Colin Leach said...

Hi James, colin here from wetcanvas. your paintings are faultless and a real inspiration to me.
Could you tell me what you use to fix you fantastic little Pochade box to your tripod please, i need to find a way to fix mine to my camera tripod you see.

Many thanks

James Gunter said...

Colin, Thank you for your comments and for visiting my blog! Your question about how to fix a pochade box to a tripod is a good one, so I answered your question in my next post. There's lots of information online about how to attach pochade boxes to tripods, including on wetcanvas, but I thought I would show how I do it.