Pochade Box

DIY Pochade Box

Lately I’ve been making this pochade box, which is a box made to both store art supplies and to be an easel. Often these can be mounted on a normal camera tripod, as seen here, and can be carried in a backpack.

This one is made entirely of poplar wood, because it was cheap, but may not have been the best choice because there were a few times that the wood split while drilling a hole. Next time I’ll probably use oak. It’s also a bit thin, but reducing the total weight of the box was important for keeping the weight of a backpack down.

DIY Pochade Box

The way this is used as an easel is that a paper or canvas will be clipped to the inside of the lid, which stays open at a certain angle while you work. This way the entire storage and work area is contained in one small box.

At the back of the box is a porcelain palette, which is actually a dish of some sort that I got at a discount store. Because it was the largest object there, and I wanted it to fit exactly, the box was literally built around that palette at the beginning. It fits snuggly and doesn’t move even if the box is turned upside down, but can still be pulled out easily enough.

In front of that are two watertight 2oz (60ml) Nalgene bottles, one for rinse water and one for clean water. The small basswood box next to them holds the paint tubes. The tops of the box and bottles are level with the inside of the lid when it’s closed, so the lid for the whole pochade box also keeps the tubes and bottles from moving. The height of the bottles was what determined the height of the box.

At the very front is a bamboo brush-holding roll with sleeves in it. I had to trim off some of it with wire cutters so it’d fit because the box wasn’t quite wide enough. It can hold a few brushes and keep their tips safe from being bent by keeping them from pressing into the side of the box.

DIY Pochade Box

This hing was a bit of a struggle to figure out, as there were several styles that I tried first that didn’t work like I wanted or that broke while making them. It was important that the hing securely hold the lid open at the correct angle, because that’s the whole point of a pochade box. This final style works very well and is unobtrusive, which makes it convenient for placing the box in a backpack without the hing snagging on anything.

I’m not a carpenter and don’t know the right words for all these things, but I was going to insert a pin or piece of wood in the center of the sliding area to prevent the thing that slides from sliding too far so the lid would stay at the angle I want, but the position of the bottom part of the hing actually stops the lid from opening any further anyways. Fortunately it stopped right about where I wanted it. I’m a little worried that the lowest part of the hing is just held by one small brass screw and the entire design depends on that holding well. If there’s a problem then that one part will just get modified.

DIY Pochade Box

A little behind the center of the box, under the porcelain palette, is a T-nut (or tee nut). It’s a hollow tube with screw threads on the inside and at one end are prongs that sink into the wood. By drilling a hole in the bottom of the box and gently hammering that nut into place, a camera quick release plate can be screwed onto the bottom of the box that allows it to be placed on the tripod. The plate can always be removed and the box will have a completely flat bottom, allowing it to also used on a table or desk.

Pochade Box 1e

Although the basswood box I glued together wasn’t my original idea for how the paint would be stored, it does hold a good amount of paint in a compact area. From left to right they are Payne’s grey, indanthrene blue, French ultramarine, cerulean blue gouache, green apatite, golden (cadmium) yellow gouache, gold ochre, Italian dark ochre, Pozzuoli red (red ochre), perylene maroon, and Italian raw umber. The bottom row has Chinese (zinc) white, ivory black, and buff titanium. The big drawback to putting all of these in that little box, besides being disorganized, is that I had to be careful to leave a little extra room, because otherwise every time I put the tubes back in I’d have to arrange them perfectly so everything would fit. Eventually I might get a smaller porcelain palette to give more room for the paints to be laid out.

Overall it was an enjoyable, if longer than expected, project that’ll also be useful in the future. The best part was being able to custom make every aspect of it myself to fit my own needs.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan
Watercolor, gouache, casein, and ink on sketch paper, 10″ x 12″

I was out of town most of last week, but got a few useable photos from the train.

Draw a Bird Day – Bald Eagle

Draw a Bird Day – Eagle
Watercolor, gouache, and ink on sketch paper, 11″ x 14″

This is referenced from yet another photo I took from the train. The photo is blurry but even these are still usable as a reference even if the real expression can’t be seen well. I just kind of drew something.

The pen was just a black Pentel Slicci. That was followed by various mixes of cerulean, cobalt teal, ivory black, van dyke brown, yellow ochre, and a couple of other yellows already on the palette that I’m not sure what they were. Some were watercolor and some gouache. The brush used for everything was a Princeton 6300 size 10 bright. It’s a very stiff synthetic brush meant for thick oil paint, just the opposite of pretty much all watercolor brushes, but the way it handles can be an advantage. The stiff bristles are robust and hold up well in a faster and more aggressive approach to a painting.

Restless Sea

Restless Sea
Watercolor, gouache, and casein on 300 lb paper, 4.25″ x 7.5″

I happened to look at the recent painting Fading Quietude upside down and thought it looked very much like either a sea with rocks or a mountain scene with foggy clouds. So I reimagined that same upside down composition as this seascape.

Friday is nearly over, the sun is setting, and it’s almost time for my own Sabbath rest, but the world at large, like this sea, doesn’t look like it’s going to rest anytime soon.

The paints are the same as before. The white in the small plastic container is the casein titanium white, which I’ve found works far better than either watercolor or gouache whites, as those both significantly lose opacity as they dry.

For brushes I started with a small ox hair flat from Daniel Smith, but found that I needed a stiffer brush for this paper. This is old paper and I think the sizing on it got too old to work well, causing it to absorb water too fast. A stiff synthetic brush is more usable even if the water is sucked out of it because it doesn’t get floppy like a natural brush. Most of the basic shapes were then finished with a Hwa Hong synthetic filbert brush with much stiffer hairs, especially because it’s difficult to fully rinse out and some old acrylic paint had dried in it. The finer details and color adjustments were finished with a small Robert Simmons titanium round.

Brisk Afternoon

Brisk Afternoon
Watercolor and gouache on sketch paper, 8.5″ x 5.5″

This was one of many deer that I’ve taken photos of from the train. Often they’re far away or there’s only a couple of seconds to aim the camera, focus, and take the photo, so a lot of them end up blurry or missed completely, but there’s a few that are decent enough to use as a painting reference. With this one I cropped away most of the photo, including some other deer, and repositioned this deer closer to the foreground plants for the composition.

The drawing was made only with a fountain pen and Daniel Smith walnut ink, no pencil needed, because this ink quickly melts away when painting over it with watercolor. Any errors or guiding lines that needed to be erased simply disappeared while painting, and any residual brown color blended in with the colors used.

Using a small porcelain dish for a watercolor palette works very well and it’s what I’ve been doing for most of the paintings and sketches I’ve made lately. Not all of the paints seen on it here were used in this particular painting because I don’t clean it between paintings. Van Dyke brown and cerulean gouache with Payne’s grey, ivory black, and dark yellow ochre watercolors was the palette for this, plus whatever other paints got mixed in.

Aside from briefly testing out a different brush at the beginning, the Cosmotop Spin oval wash brush seen in the final photo is what was used for everything. That could easily be my favorite brush because of how versatile it is, from razor thin lines to small areas of wash.

Fading Quietude

Ebbing Tranquility
Gouache, watercolor, and casein on marker paper, 4.25″ x 7.5″

For most of you August has already arrived, but for me it’s still the end of the last evening of July. It’s been a very eventful month for many people and the whole world is sliding further into strife, in one form or another. Because we don’t have endless more months available to make important things wait, let’s all work hard to do well in August and to be sure that we’re right with God.

Snowy Colorado River

Winter Colorado River Bank
Watercolor on sketch paper, 8.5″ x 5.5″

Traveling through the mountains of Colorado on a train gives many different sights, such as this one in a canyon with the Colorado river passing through it.

This was first drawn with a fountain pen that I was recently given for my birthday. The ink blended into the watercolor in most places because it was a brown and was not waterproof, so that helped it not be obtrusive. In the open snowy area are a few brown trees are just the ink with no watercolor. Most of the paint used was Payne’s grey and sepia, with a little burnt sienna and some dark yellow ochre.

Snowy Colorado River 1 ref