Saturday, June 24, 2017

George Vicat Cole

George Vicat Cole
Victorian era painter George Vicat Cole was the middle of three generations of painters; his father, George Cole, and his son, Rex Vicat Cole, were both painters of note. His daughter, Mary Blanch Cole, was also an artist, but I’ve been unable to find any information about her online.

George Vicat Cole was noted for his English landscapes, mostly of the countryside in southeastern England, but also occasionally of London and its surrounds.

Some of his paintings with figures can feel a bit artificial, but others are more naturalistic and feel directly observed. There is a particular delight, I think, in the textures of foliage, tree trunks and rocks, and the play of light on distant hills and fields.

I’m uncertain if some of his father’s work may be mixed in with his in some of the online sources, as their styles are similar.

 
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Eye Candy for Today: Julian Alden Weir’s The Factory Village

The Factory Village,  Julian Alden Weir, American Impressionist painting
The Factory Village, Julian Alden Weir

In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the “Download” or “Enlarge” links under the image on their site.

In this late 19th century scene — that makes factory life seem almost idyllic — I love Weir’s textural application of paint and the way he uses it to soften his edges, particularly in the trunk and branches of the tree.

 
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

DIY Pochade Boxes – make your own cheap pochade box from simple materials

DIY Pochade Boxes - make your own cheap pochade box from simple materials

As I pointed out in my previous post on making DIY pochade boxes out of cigar boxes, the cost of a commercial pochade box can sometimes be prohibitive, particularly for those on a tight budget or who are as yet uncertain if they want to commit serious resources to plein air painting.

So blog posts and videos in which artists share their designs for Do It Yourself pochade boxes are becoming more common. Though the cigar box conversion is the most common, there are also more ambitious designs either built from scratch materials or from larger found wooden boxes, as well as some unorthodox starting points like office form holders and even a laptop computer shell.

I’ve gathered a few of them here — certainly not comprehensive, but hopefully representative and useful. Some are quite detailed and extensive in their descriptions and instructions, others are a bit sketchy, but I’ve tried to include those that have techniques of interest. Some even offer printed plans, either for free or for a reasonable fee.

Though there are some exceptions, most of these posts and videos are less than professionally presented. For an alternative with details and high production values, see my recent post about James Gurney’s new video on How to Make a Sketch Easel.

Look around with a search engine (particularly by using image search) and you will likely find more posts and videos on DIY pochade boxes; even those without details can offer food for thought. For those who have accounts, you may find additional resources on sites like Wet Canvas or Pinterest.

I’ll follow up this post in the next few days with a refreshed version of my original post on Pochade Boxes, that offers an overview of commercially available options.

Blog posts

Jim Sterrett - Sterrett Box, DIY pochade box Jim Sterrett
This influential 2009 post on how to build a “Sterrett Box”, as it came to be called, was the second DIY pochade box I remember seeing on the web, after Ellie Clemon’s cigar box pochade box post in 2004 (see my previous article on DIY Cigar Box pochade boxes). Sterrett also published a post on diy pochade boxes by others inspired by his design, and another on his plans for making a wet panel carrier.

Sketchin Dan, DIY pochade box Sketchin Dan
Not really a blog post, but a series of annotated photos on Flickr, this is also one of the older examples I’m aware of in which an artist shares their home made pochade box design.

Darrell Anderson, DIY pochade box Darrell Anderson
Made from cut lumber, this box will take panels up to 18 inches and includes a camera mount for taking time-lapse shots of paintings in progress.

Jeremy Sams, DIY pochade box Jeremy Sams
This 9 1/4 x 11 1/2″ box, meant to handle 8 x 10 panels, features a tip-out hinged brush holder.

David Gluck, DIY pochade box David Gluck
This box starts out with two 12×16 cradled birch painting panels, and provides a large mixing area. Directions are fairly extensive and it looks like the size could likely be easily reduced by using smaller panels.

Carol L. Douglas, DIY pochade box Carol L. Douglas
In this unusual metal design, the starting point is an aluminum form holder and the end result is very lightweight.

YouTube videos

Hugo Dolores, DIY pochade box Hugo Dolores
In this two part video (part 2 here), the artist starts out with a found wooden box (larger than a cigar box, eBay maybe?), but gives worthwhile ideas and details for the hardware and compartment adaptations to make a pochade box suitable for either oil or watercolor.

J Geekie, DIY pochade box J. Geekie
Geekie has apparently gone through several iterations of his design, and you may find additional details, as well as alternate designs in other videos. Videos are hand-held and a bit shaky, but I thought the designs interesting enough to be worth sharing.

Karen McLain, DIY pochade box Karen McLain
In this unusual bit of recycling, McLain takes the screen and components out of a defunct laptop computer and turns its case into pochade box without a tripod mount, simply held on a lap, table or stool.

Larisa Carli, DIY pochade box Larisa Carli
In this annotated time-lapse video, Carli starts with a found wooden box, but gives enough information to be useful in building a pastel-specific pochade box.

, DIY pochade box Mustafa Jannan
Video is wordless and annotated in German and English, with enough interesting ideas to be worthwhile.

Richard Kooyman, DIY pochade box Richard Kooyman
In this basic design, panels are held in place with a simple spring clamp, but the box looks sturdy, has double brackets to hold the lid in place and features panel storage.

Scott Ruthven, DIY pochade box Scott Ruthven
Ruthven’s video is more an annotated demo than instructions, but the box is quite nicely designed. Tension for the panel holder is provided by a bungee cord.

WBarts, DIY pochade box WBarts
A short, wordless annotated video, but the details are in the Comments area — Click on “Show More” under the video. Includes links to additional detail photos on Flickr.

Blog posts & videos with printed plans

Bob Perrish - Artist Easel Plans, DIY pochade box Bob Perrish – Artist Easel Plans
This long running site started with a set of plans for a pochade box that the author called “The Ttanium Easel” (at left). It features slide-out shelves and a lift-out under-palette tray for either panels or materials. Perrish has expanded the offerings over time to include plans for a dedicated pastel box, a watercolor box and a lighter variation pochade box without the storage compartment but with a detachable side tray. He also offers plans for actual in-studio easels. He describes the plans here.
As of this writing, his pochade box plans sell for $20.00.

Christopher Clark, DIY pochade box, with plans Christopher Clark
In addition to his blog post, on which he offers free PDF plans, Clark also has a YouTube video about his DIY pochade box.

Howard Lyon, DIY pochade box plans Howard Lyon
In an extensive post on the Muddy Colors group blog, Howard Lyon gives detailed instructions, a parts list and free diagram images with materials and sizes. The box features extra strong hinges, and an adjustable panel holder system using magnets to position the base and an extendable top holder tensioned by rubber bands.

Zan Barrage, DIY pochade box Zan Barrage
After some initial versions and revisions demonstrated in YouTube videos (and here), Barrage outlined his DIY pochade box process in a blog post, and now offers downloadable plans for $2.99 through Lulu.

 
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Friday, June 16, 2017

Gobelins students’ animations for Annecy 2017

Gobelins students' animations for Annecy 2017
As I’ve been noting every year since 2006, each year at this time, small teams of graduating students from Gobelins, l’école de l’image (Goeblins School of Communications) in Paris create short animations (usually about 1 minute) to be used as introductions to each of the five day’s events at the Annecy International Festival of Animation.

The emphasis is on 2D hand drawn animation though at least one of this year’s shorts uses GCI. This year’s theme is “La Chine a l’honneur” which I think loosely translates as “Honoring China”.

You can see all five shorts on YouTube. Uncharacteristically this year, there are short ads in front of some of the YouTube videos, but they’re of the kind that can be skipped after a few seconds. (I couldn’t find the shorts on the on the Gobelins website.)

(Note: images above are just screen caps from each of the five films, not clickable embeds. Please follow the provided link to view the films.)

 
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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Eye Candy for Today: Giacomo Guardi gouache painting of Venice

View of the Rialto Bridge, Giacomo Guardi, gouache on paper
View of the Rialto Bridge, Giacomo Guardi

Gouache on paper, roughly 5 x 9 inches (13 x 24 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.

On the Morgan’s page, you can use the Download link under the image, or the Zoom tab above it. When using the zoom, it’s helpful to know that in the controls under the image, the last one on the right opens the zoomed image full screen.

When viewed in detail, the wonderful economy of Guardi’s notation becomes evident. Abbreviated brush lines delineate the windows, splashes of opaque gouache form heads and bodies, and brief indications of value change give the buildings dimension. Look at the way the reflections are indicated under the buildings at right.

 
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DIY Cigar Box Pochade Boxes – make your own cheap pochade box from a cigar box

DIY Cigar Box Pochade Boxes
As I described in my original post on the subject (which will be updated shortly), pochade boxes are small, usually wooden boxes, meant to serve as a portable artist’s palette and easel for painting on location. Many also contain storage for supplies. Most are equipped to be mounted to camera tripods, but some are simply meant to be held in one’s lap or set on a table when painting.

Pochade boxes have become the defacto standard for plein air painting, largely supplanting the larger French easels and being more common than the field easels and plein air systems meant to handle larger canvases.

Most commercial pochade boxes represent an investment, often a barrier for painters unsure if they want to commit to plein air painting on a regular basis, or for those on a budget.

As of this writing, the least expensive commercial pochade box of which I’m aware is the Guerrilla Painter Pocket Box — a small handheld “thumb box” for 5×7 panels that retails for between $70.00 and $85.00 USD. It has no provision for mounting to a tripod (though holes are drilled for adding a proprietary mounting bracket for an additional $24.00). Most other commercial pochade boxes range in price from $125.00 to $400.00 and up.

So Do It Yourself instructions have gained momentum in recent years. By far, the most common type of these are cigar box to pochade box conversions.

Most cigar stores continually go through cigar boxes as they sell individual cigars, many of them are wood and some are quite nicely finished and well suited in size and shape for making a pochade box. You can usually pick them up either for free or for three or four dollars. Most are made of lightweight wood. When you go looking, you may want to bring a tape measure or typical painting panel to be sure the box you choose will fit your chosen panel size (usually set into the lid).

If you don’t have access to a cigar store, new cigar boxes and similar wooden boxes can be purchased on Amazon (and here), or from craft sources like Michaels or Joann Fabrics for $7.00 or $8.00, though some of these may be too shallow to allow much storage under a palette. You can also check eBay and/or your parent’s attic for any kind of wooden box that seems suitable.

sketch boxYou could also do a similar conversion from an artist’s sketch box (and here), which would be a more expensive start, but would include a correctly sized palette, stronger hinges and latches, and often a handle.

Most cigar boxes have weak, inexpensive hinges, not likely to hold up under the stress of holding a panel while painting, so they usually need to be replaced or supplemented. Also, some accommodation must be made for holding the lid open at a usable angle when using it as an easel. Most DIY versions will also add a stronger latch and often a handle of some kind. Usually, dowels or small wood blocks are cut to length and glued in the corners of the base to provide a palette support, with space underneath for supplies. Wooden, acrylic or glass palettes must usually be cut to size. Existing wooden palettes can be cut down. Palettes can also be made from masonite painting panels coated in gesso and sanded smooth.

T-nutThe more complete versions will include a “T-nut“, a threaded mounting that allows for putting the box on a photographic tripod, like most commercial pochade boxes. The appropriate size to match tripod mounts appears to be 1/4-20 (1/4″ diameter, 20 threads per inch). Usually, additional wood must be added in the area of the T-Nut to provide a more solid mounting than the typical cigar box’s thin, light wood.

The boxes without provision for tripod mounting are meant to be used in your lap or on a table. Some have a thumb hole cut into the bottom of one of the compartments, making a “thumb box” that allows the box to be held in one hand like a traditional artist’s palette.

I’ve tried to provide an overview here of some cigar box to pochade box conversions. This is by no means comprehensive, it’s just meant to be a representative sampling with an emphasis on those that I feel convey enough DIY information to be useful. In the listings below, I’ve linked the author’s name to their post or video describing the project.

Most of these instructions are casually presented rather than laid out in comprehensive detail, so you may have to hunt a bit for the relevant details, but we should be appreciative of the time taken by these artists to share their experience and ideas.

I will follow up this post with another devoted to more elaborate DIY pochade box instructions not based on cigar boxes, most of which are larger and can accommodate larger panels, with more adjustment and room for storage, and sharing more features in common with commercial pochade boxes.

Cigar box pochade box conversions –
no tripod mount

, cigar box pochade box Ellie Clemens
This was the first mention of building a cigar box pochade box I encountered on the web, and at the time the only one I knew of, so I think of it as the original online instruction for building one, and it is still one of the best. Unfortunately, the original website no longer exists, so I have linked to a version on the Internet Archive.

Two strips of lath support the palette, which is cut with a thumb hole so it can be held separately. Brass mending strips and a small bolt hold the lid up and four blocks glued into the lid make a holder for a 5×7 panel.

Plein Air Muse, cigar box pochade box Plein Air Muse
This is a pretty basic cigar box conversion, with some dowels supporting the palette and a couple of braces for holding open the lid.

Lori McNee, cigar box pochade box Lori McNee
Another straightforward conversion, with wood or plastic blocks for palette supports and wing nuts for the lid. Plastic surface savers and one of the hinge bolts hold the panel in place. There are better photos of her box on Empty Easel.

PJ Coo, cigar box pochade box PJ Cook
This cigar box came with a divided tray which sets in the box upside-down to become the palette. A block on the back supports the lid and framing clips hold the panel in place.

Sharon Will, cigar box pochade box Sharon Will
A clever use of canvas stretcher keys to support the palette and an unusual slide hinge highlight this conversion. A small L-shaped fastener holds the panel in the lid.

Stephen D'Amato, cigar box pochade box Stephen D’Amato
A nicely done cigar box pochade for both watercolor and oil. Metal brackets and a wing nut hold the lid. L-shaped fasteners hold the panel. A leather strap holds the box closed and keeps the panel from sliding out in transit. Plastic watercolor trays have been cut down to fit into the compartment and the oil palette rests above them.

Thomas Jefferson Kitts, cigar box pochade box Thomas Jefferson Kitts
This conversion is a “thumb box”, meant to be held in one hand like a traditional palette while painting. The bottom is compartmentalized and one compartment has the thumb hole, placed so the box can be balanced in the hand. Everything but the palette surface and panel are removed when painting to keep it as light as possible. A wooden ledge and simple office clips hold the panel in place.

Cigar box pochade box conversions –
with T-nut or other tripod mounting

Marla Goodman, cigar box pochade box Marla Goodman
A box with a larger than usual mixing area, but too shallow to provide much storage. Techniques are applicable to other size boxes. A cut-to-size piece of masonite in the bottom provides the extra depth and strength necessary to use the T-nut. A unique clip and plastic tubing arrangement holds open the lid. Paint stirrers are used to brace the painting panels, which are simply held on with binder clips. Closure is velcro.

Gabrielle Sivitz, cigar box pochade box Gabrielle Sivitz
A two-part post. Not exactly a cigar box, but the principles are the same. A wood block holds the lid up. Four corks cut to size hold the acrylic palette in place, with room underneath for supplies.

Austin Maloney, cigar box pochade box Austin Maloney
Metal “mending strips” and a wing nut hold the lid in position. Another bolt and wing nut in a slot in the lid hold the panel in place. A commercial tripod mounting plate from Guerilla Painter is used instead of a T-nut.

Linda  Schroeter, cigar box pochade box Linda Schroeter
This looks like an unusually sturdy cigar box, but the instructions are pretty detailed. Dowels are hot-glued in the corners to support the palette, which is made from a masonite painting panel, painted and cut with a thumb hole to use separately. L-shaped brackets can hold panels in the lid, which is held open with metal braces and a wing nut. An extra piece of wood has been glued to the bottom to support the tripod mount; four rubber feet raise the box above that for use on a table.

Frank Hobbs, cigar box pochade box Frank Hobbs
A clever extender for the panel holder, made from lattice, is a highlight of this functional box. Another piece of lattice provides the extra thickness and strength in the bottom of the box necessary for the T-nut tripod mount. A piece of v-shaped molding serves as a trough to keep the fresh paint separate from the mixing area. A wood strip on the back supports the open lid.

, cigar box pochade box Jeff McRobbie
This is probably the best tutorial and most sophisticated design I’ve seen for a DIY cigar box pochade box. The wooden block on the back of the box that holds open the lid in use is set in a slot with a wing nut, allowing the angle of the lid to be adjusted. A square of plywood in the bottom of the box provides the extra depth and strength needed for the T-nut mounting. Strips of narrow wood support the palette, and another is adapted to be a removable brush holder that plugs into the outside of the box with lengths of clothes-hanger wire. The panel holder looks sophisticated, but seems easy enough to construct, and features a wooden adjustment knob on the back of the lid. The panel holder and knob extend a bit from the box when closed, but still make a compact design.

smoothie77, cigar box pochade box smoothie77
This YouTube video (w/skipable ad) shows an interesting conversion with double slide-out trays. A little short on the how-to instructions, but food for thought.

, cigar box pochade box Bart Charlow
This YouTube video (no ads) features an unusual configuration with two cigar boxes stacked together. Two mending strips and a thumbscrew hold open the lid. Cork in the lid allows pushpins to hold watercolor paper. A third, shallow cigarbox tucks inside the top of the first and acts as a removable tray that can be attached to the outside of the box with additional thumbscrews and L-brackets. The bottom cigar box is a storage area, and a slide out piece below that holds a brush washer when in use. The tripod mount has not been added at this point.

Look around

I will follow this post with another about more elaborate DIY pochade boxes, as well as updating my original post on commercial pochade boxes.

But when looking for ideas for a cigar box conversion, don’t limit yourself to those presented here. Look at the more elaborate homemade boxes as well as the commercial ones to see how they’ve solved the basic problems of storage, palette arrangement, easel adjustment and panel or paper holding for inspiration. You will also find variations aimed more at watercolor or pastels.

If you come up with some clever ideas, consider sharing them with others the way these artists have.

 
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