Monday, August 13, 2012

Alder Stand

 8 x 10" Oil on canvas panel

Plein Aire #1 - sort of...  I did my first painting outdoors about a month ago when I hauled my French easel out the back door and painted my gate.  This one is with the pochade box I made. The lot next door to me is heavily populated with alders, and the light coming through in late afternoon was what I was after. I stayed close to home again because there's no shortage of gorgeousness right outside my door, and I wanted to be able to dash back into the house if I needed something.  All went quite well until I tried to pick up the tripod and carry it back to the house and the panel fell forward into the paint.  See the blobs on the bottom?  I smeared them around, but I was done - and wanted this first genuine plein aire painting to reflect what really happened in 2 hours, and give me info on what needs to change.   

A way to hold the panel in place would be helpful, but that gets way outside the cheap and easy department, so I'll simply wipe the sides of my finished panel with my rag (Tip #1: painting outdoors is far messier.  Wear an apron and have extra rags), and place it somewhere safe. Like a box in the back seat of the car. I will NOT be making a panel carrier, because more than one painting per outing is so outside the realm of possibility....well you know.  

Know something else? People who do this well, and in all sorts of weather deserve our admiration.  Lots of it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Homemade Pochade Box

I wanted to put this together with items I already had around the house because I didn't know if I really wanted to spend a lot of time painting outdoors.  There are a lot of homemade pochade box videos and instructions around the web, but I wanted something super easy and inexpensive, that anyone could put together.  I already had a $20 photo tripod, so I'd been looking for an appropriate box. I spotted the unfinished wood cradled painting panels at Michael's.  They're surprisingly sturdy, so I bought two 9 x 12 x 7/8" with a 50% off coupon in hand.  $4.00 each.  I'd purchased the clip-on solvent cups earlier (again at Michael's with a 40 or 50% off coupon) and it fits inside just perfectly.  

Then I researched how to attach the box to the tripod, and found a nifty little item called a tee-nut at the hardware store for .45 cents. You'll need the 1/4-20 x 5/16 size, and a 1/4" drill bit for the hole in the bottom to hold the tee nut.  I also picked up two pretty little hinges for the back that would allow the box to open completely flat. Center them directly over the opening, so the box will lay completely flat should you decide to use it on a shelf.

I had the stain and the polyurethane for the exterior, but craft paint would work fine too.  Finding a hinge that would support the lid and attach to the outside without creating bulk and getting in the way, was almost impossible.  So I used a bit of chain to keep the lid at the right angle, cut a metal coat hanger for the brace, and used some screw eyes for hanging framed pictures, and started tinkering.  For a place to rest the painting panel, I used two tiny L screws, but the screw eyes I used to hold the chain would work fine too.  Here's the result.  I cut a piece of sturdy cardboard to fit in the bottom, and wrapped a disposable palette paper around it and taped it on the back.  I put my paints on before I leave the house. It slips right under the screw eyes.

The coat hanger lays flat diagonally across the palette area, or if I've got paints on the palette, I'll slip it under the ribbon with velcro I'll use to keep this puppy closed.  Funky? Sure, but the total cost was $10.99.  I've used it once indoors for a trial run and it feels plenty sturdy enough to take outdoors.

Postscript  4/27/144: This was fun to make and I like the way mine balances,  but I spied a dandy little $20 item on eBay that might make a good little box with the addition of a well placed T nut on the bottom. 

Type in 'Art Alternatives Marquis Desk Easel with drawer', or go to Amazon and type in the same: $25.00!

I've used up to a 12 x 16 panel on my little box with no problems, and with a suggestion by the wonderful Julie Ford Oliver, hold it in place with mounting putty. If you haven't already discovered her blog, click on the link above. She's a wonderful artist and generous teacher.