These musings got me on a quest this morning trawling through internet art supply sites to see if I could find anything of interest at a good price, ie: cheaper than KB's. And lo, I did. A site called The Art Store.com which is based in Iowa, USofA, offers a good looking pochade box http://www.pochade.com/Product.asp?record=1498 and lightweight at only 2Kg. It's small and it requires a tripod to support it but it looks just the thing. Now, and where all this is leading, I decided I want to find out more about this box so I Google the name - Guerrilla Painter Pochade Travel Box - and stumble upon another artist blogging about this very subject and in particular about this very box. What a co-incidence! Must be meant, I wonder? Her name is Jennifer Young and can be found here: http://www.jenniferyoung.com/blog . I'll let Jennifer speak for herself. Enough for me to add that I am indebted to her for her coverage of this topic and that I learned a lot. Thanks Jennifer!
All of this got me thinking about my own efforts to make a lightweight easel for working outdoors. I bought an artbook many years ago by the artist Ted Goerschner called: "Oil Painting, The Workshop Experience" [see TG here: http://www.judithhalegallery.com/featured_artists/artist_goerschner.html ]. Ted's plein air set-up uses what he calls a "Russian Easle" which looks like a back to front French Easel with the addition of an "Easel Pal" - a fold-out box that sits on front and supported by the easel box which supports his palette so he doesn't need to hold it, thereby keeping his hands free, and places to lay brushes and paint tubes. Unable to find either of these items, even on the wondrous internet, I decided to make my own. Here's what I came up with:
My Outdoor Easel and DIY Easel Pal - Front View: The easel is about the cheapest I have every bought, and more importantly the lightest. It is made of something like Obechi wood which feels and looks something like balsa (ha!) but is in fact quite sturdy. I have modified it to get the painting support bars at a higher level, and also added a longer bottom cross-piece because the ones that come with all of these easel types are far too narrow and paintings occassionally fall off. Ok if you want grass and soil embedded in the paint surface but not generally acceptable!
What you see under the easel set-up is one of these rucksac/stools which I lay my finished painting box holder (takes about four paintings each 30x25cm) which also acts as a solid surface for paints.
My DIY Easel Pal: This is a simple hinged narrow box affair which folds in on itself. The central area is, obviously the palette with a piece of hardboard with two circles cut in it to hold the turps and white spirit steady, and brushes to one side and anything else on the other. Brilliant, but- the big problem is how to keep the Easel Pal in one place and steady. It is hooked on to the two sliding lower lugs that come with these easels at the back but it also needs supporting at the front. What you can only see here partially is a length of broomstick dowelled onto a crossbar to form a 't' shape which runs right across the front of this damned contraption. It kind of works but I am even exhausted here talking about it! All together it is much lighter than just about anything else I have contemplated but it is still a burden when carrying it any distance and major construction works when you get there when what you want to do is paint! Needless to say I haven't used it very much recently.
And that brings me full circle back to the Guerrilla Pochade Box-on-a-Camera Tripod ( I even love it's name as painting outdoors can sometimes be just like guerrilla warfare - especially the way I do it!!!!
Heres a wee picture of it just to remind ourselves of the future in a box: