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Posts Tagged ‘watercolor pochade boxes’

smallest set

This set is composed of an empty Sucrets box into which I have inserted a small daily plastic pill box with the top off, both of which come from the local drug store.  An Altoid box is an equally good container.  Into the compartments I squeezed Winsor Newton tube paints.  When the box is closed they stay slightly damp for a long time.    Next to the Sucrets box is a 35mm film canister which I have filled with water.  It stays watertight.  I would probably take a few along with me if I were concerned about a source of water.  (The idea comes from the illustrator James Gurney.)     There is also shown a Utrecht travel brush.  You might want a water brush from Koi for example, click on name for website, which would eliminate the need for water.  However, the koi brush has a completely different feel to the wash which I don’t like.  The quarter is just to give an idea of the size.

As I have set it up with the samples of the paint on the lid,  there is not place to mix the colors.  I would remove that piece of paper and use the cover for mixing.

HOWEVER Altoids has come out with a smaller box:

small altoid box

When it is open you can fit 6 small pans in it if you clip the corner off two of them.  I did the clipping with a jigsaw and found it went very easily.  I think you could also use a scissor but it might be more awkward.

open with small watercolor pans

In terms of what paints to put in it, see my post on extremely limited palettes here.

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top view

Hi, there are  other posts on this topic.  here , here, here

Green and Stone, an art store in London (Chelsea) in addition to having a wonderful collection of antique watercolor boxes, sell a new beautiful watercolor pochade box that appears to be of “French origin” made of walnut wood.   It comes with or without watercolor half pans.  If purchased empty, it contains two palettes that fit in it but no empty watercolor pans for pigment probably on the assumption that you will purchase filled watercolor pans.

top view with pans

I recently purchased one from them empty.  It costs about 100 pounds (GBP).  Interestingly Green and Stone do not have an on-line store.  You e-mail them about it and then send your credit card information broken up in three separate e-mails for security purposes.  I have to say that the whole transaction from start to when I received it in the mail was faster than the on-line art supply stores that I routinely use.

It is expensive to purchase it loaded with pigment.  An alternative is to purchase empty half and whole pans and just squirt in pigment and let it dry.  I got mine here. You could also purchase half and/or whole pans with paint already in them from your local art store.  Although they do not say, of the three rows for pans of pigment, one of them seems to be for whole pans.

There is a clear plastic cover for the pans of watercolor which is hard to see in photographs.  I found that my half and whole pans tended to fall out of the box or against the clear cover.  The solution was to use a very small dab of rubber cement on the bottom of the pan which held it there and could be rubbed off it need be.

plastic sheet

There is no equivalent in the pochade boxes that are being made for plein air oil painting.  In every case, the only thing they do to adapt their oil boxes to watercolor is to supply a plastic palette that fits in it.  There is an interesting board that the guerilla painter site (Judson) features that pins a sheet down and you can carry it.  See here.  And there are carrying tables for watercolor.  There is a table designed by Joseph Zbukvic which costs $439.56 here.

The workmanship on this pochade box is nothing like the handmade boxes available for plein air oil painting.  This box has finger joints and walnut plywood on the top and bottom.  The hinges are not screwed in but pinned in like on cigar boxes.  The clasps to hold the top down are also those found on cigar boxes.  Although it appears to be marketed in France (the wrapping was in French), I would guess it is made in China by the companies that literally make 10,000 cigar boxes a year.   You could easily adapt a cigar box by using one box for the outside and the wood from inside cigar boxes for the separators and come up with a pochade box of equivalent quality.  Cigar stores often sell empty cigar boxes for $2.

side view

One problem is that watercolor brushes (at least the ones I have) do not fit in the box and, of course, water and something to put the water in can’t fit either.  Using the new Japanese waterbrush might be the solution for small passages, but you would still need a “wash brush”.  Another post on the alternative waterbrush and the new Japanese portable palettes is here.  You also might want to look at my post critical of pochade boxes for outdoor watercolor work here.

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antique watercolor box Green and Stone (click on the name) in Chelsea, London have pictures of many different kinds of these old watercolor boxes, most of them already sold.  They also sell a modern walnut watercolor pochade box with and without pigment.

Here’s another type of antique watercolor box

small watercolor boxNow let us look at Winslow Homer’s watercolor box.  When he died at Prout’s Neck, Maine his family gave this box and some brushes to Bowdoin College where they still are. (There is another box in the Portland Museum as well.)  The pigments have been analyzed and correlated with the legible names written on the palette.  From this Homer’s working palette has been determined (I’ll discuss this in another post.)  It looks like he is using half-pans very similar to the ones we still use today.  I’m surprised there was plastic in those days.  The only plastic, I think, was celluloid.

palette open

Here’s the palette closed:  Scarboro Beach is about 7 miles south of Portland.  Prout’s Neck is nearby and apparently considered in Scarboro Beach.  Perhaps, it’s a very early one before his family bought most of Prout’s Neck.

For more on Homer’s stuff see here for Homer’s palette . See here for Homer’s paper.  See here for Homer’s brushes.

palette closed

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