Saturday, October 23, 2010

Building a Pochade Box, Part 1

There it is. My homemade pochade box. It’s probably the ugliest box in existence (not to mention slightly wonky, as my woodworking skills are lacking,) but it’s a terrific solution for someone that can’t or won’t* shell out the big bucks for a professional pochade box. I’m still trying to figure out the total cost (on account of a few mistakes and jigsaw that needed to be purchased,) but I think for the materials the cost rests somewhere between $20 to $30.

*(I should note that I DO eventually plan to get one of those wonderfully handcrafted pochade boxes…it’s just not in my budget at the time, unfortunately.)

For the unfamiliar, a pochade box is a portable outdoor painting kit - developed as a convenient way to carry supplies out into the field to perform plein air painting (French for “in the plain air”.) There’s a wide variety of pochade boxes in use today that fulfill different needs of an artist. It’d take a whole post to go into this, but fortunately Charlie Parker of the blog “Lines and Colors” covered this topic before when he was purchasing a pochade box. For the curious, here’s a link to the exact article: Lines and Colors' post about Pochade Boxes.

I would also recommend that if you haven’t seen his blog yet, I heartily recommend it – it’s easily in the top ten of art blogs on the internet.

So what made me decide to build a pochade box and try my hand at field painting? Vacation.

I went up to the Smokey Mountains this past week, and after looking at some photos of the area, I decided that it’d be a perfect place to give field painting a try (as a forewarning, I should mention the results were a bit atrocious, pretty much because of my lack of skill in traditional painting AND landscape painting. But it was a great learning experience!)

My budget wouldn’t allow me to actually get a nice pochade box, but I was able to construct one. In the end I think it’s design is somewhere trapped between an Open M box and an All-In-One (though if it had to be categorized, it’d fall into the latter.) And I decided to go over the construction in the next few blog posts to hopefully help some other people that are curious about how to go about it.

So, onto the first step: Figuring out my goals!

I made a short list of things I wanted out of my box – these were going to help me figure out the design and dimensions of it:

-Light, but sturdy

-Cost affordable (it should not be more expensive than $50, even that would be pushing it.)

-Able to hold a 9 x 12 watercolor block in portrait or landscape orientation

-Able to hold most, if not all, of my painting supplies

-Mounts on a camera tripod without modifying the tripod itself.

On Tuesday, I’ll go over the plans and supplies.

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