Chris Sprouse

Chris Sprouse
Chris Sprouse is an American comics artist whose clean elegant drawing style lies somewhere between the open line styles of European comics and the more heavily rendered styles common in American mainstream comics.

Sprouse is most noted for his work on Alan Moore’s Tom Strong, a comics series that combined some of the best elements of Lee/Kirby stories for The Fantastic Four, the early Challengers of the Unknown comics and the Doc Savage pulp novels.

The series was wonderfully fun and beautifully drawn, and Sprouse was the perfect choice to bring it to life. It was, in fact, designed around his predilections. Moore fashioned all of the titles in his ABC comics line around his co-creators strengths and drawing styles. In Sprouse’s case, that meant lots of high-tech gadgets, spaceships, and a robust family of characters. Sprouse garnered two Eisner awards for his work on the series. The image above shows one of his covers for the series in pencilled and finished form.

Unlike the tendency on the part of a lot of superhero artists to go over the top in trying to make their characters look “super”, Sprouse stays grounded in a more naturalistic portrayal of people, giving his stories an extra feeling of realism, in spite of the delightful degree of lively stylization in his drawing style. His figures, in particular, have the kind of power-under-the-surface feeling you see in athletes, as opposed to the too-musclebound-to-do-anything-but-grimace style all too common in superhero comics.

Sprouse has also worked for other major comics companies on titles like Legionnaires, Supreme and Midnighter. He drew a Star Wars story for Dark Horse, Star Wars: Splinter in the Mind’s Eye, and an under-appreciated science fiction graphic story called Ocean with Warren Ellis. His most recent project was Wildstorm’s Number of the Beast, written by Scott Beatty.

As far as I can determine, Sprouse does not have a web site or blog, so I’ve dug up what resources I can find. There is an unofficial gallery of his work on Comic Art Community.

Addendum: Johnny Bacardi was kind enough to write and let us know that Sprouse does, in fact, have a blog. (Thanks!)

 
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“Painting a Day” Blogs (Round 7)

Duane KeiserI’ve been reporting on the “Painting a Day” phenomenon since well before it was a phenomenon, since my initial 2005 post on Duane Keiser (left); who originated the practice in its commonly understood form of painting one small painting each day and posting it on a blog, usually also offering it for sale.

The demands of the practice frequently encourage artists to paint small still life subjects of objects close at hand, fruit, china, painting supplies and so on, but a number of painters focus more on landscape and painting en plein air, so I’ll concentrate on some of those for this round. These painters usually work a little larger than the daily painters who focus on still life, roughly 8×10″ (20x25cm) instead of 6×8″ (15x20cm).

Though Keiser largely concentrates on still life, he does paint landscape, and I like to mention him in these posts.

Here are some other daily painters who concentrate more on landscape than on still life.

 

John K. HarrellJohn K. Harrell is a Denver based painter. His subjects include the Colorado countryside, as well as paintings from his travels in the U.S. and Europe. Harrell has a nice economy of notation, in which impressionist handling is used for areas like foliage and textured surfaces where broken color is most effective; but like the American Impressionist painters from the turn of the last century he has not locked himself into rendering everything with short strokes, allowing larger areas of color to predominate when appropriate.

While most daily painters work in oil, Harrell works in acrylic and occasionally pastel. He seems to be using thickened acrylics, though, as they have a feeling of surface texture and brush strokes. Harrell also is a participant in the Daily Impressionist Painters group blog and has a dedicated web site that features his larger and more finished work.

 

Christopher GrecoChristopher Greco is a daily painter who paints primarily en plein air. His loose, painterly handling of landscape subjects is particularly effective, I think, in his paintings of small creeks and streams.

He also paints landscapes with structures in them, like houses, barns, garages and storefronts, where his succinct brushwork defines their forms in a series of brief strokes. Greco makes a point of saying that he doesn’t “edit” his work, in that every painting is posted, so that we see his daily progress as he experiments and grows as a painter.

 

Edward B. GordonEdward B. Gordon is a painter from Germany and has been practicing the painting a day regimen for longer than most, since November of 2006, and credits Duane Keiser with his impetus to begin the practice. He posts small paintings of a variety of subjects including figures, landscapes and still life.

He has a nicely angular approach to brushwork, laying in individual brush strokes that serve to define a plane. Unfortunately, his posted images are a bit small, leaving me wishing there were lager versions in addition, though he does occasionally post detail images of some of them.

Note: he has some kind of Flash map/comment widget running in his sidebar that my copy of Safari momentarily choked on. Your milage may vary.

 

George CollGeorge Coll lives in Colorado and his daily paintings are of the mountainous landscape surrounding him. Coll treks from his two acre property out into the back country with with 2 pack llamas carrying his supplies (now that’s different). His location paintings are often in the muted tones of daylight softened by the shadows of the mountains, accented with brilliant light on distant peaks.

He also paints figures and town scenes and his blog will occasionally feature images of his larger works, done in the studio from his location sketches. Coll also has a web site that showcases his larger finished work.

 

Candy BarrCandy Barr is a painter from Vermont who frequently paints landscapes. Her paintings are sometimes very straightforward in their color palette and at other times “pushed” into brighter, almost expressionistic color.

She also has a web site on which you will find her larger pantings. Of particular interest are her “floaters“, images of nude figures floating in water.

 
 
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More Gustav Tenggren treasures from ASIFA


The indefatigable archivists at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive continue to amaze, amuse, entertain and enlighten us with great examples of Golden Age illustration that are being added to their database.

Notably, they have added to their considerable reserve of dazzlingly beautiful illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren, an underappreciated Swedish illustrator who I wrote about previously here and here. The latest article includes images from a rare 1923 edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Tenggren’s illustrations carry some of the best pictorial elements to be found in the work of his contemporaries Arthur Rackham, Kay Neilsen and Edmund Dulac, and his equally underappreciated countryman, John Bauer, along with his own unique style that probably had equal influence on them.

Tenggren was at his best illustrating fairy tales, but he ventured into other territory, and other posts on the ASIFA Archive include some of his early work in styles rarely seen, like his illustrations for Nethaniel Hawthorne’s Wonderbook and Tanglewood Tales, Johanna Spyri’s Heidi and Juan and Juanita by Frances Courtenay Baylor, all three of which are featured in this article.

In addition they have posted two of Tenggren’s other books, D’aulnoy’s Fairy Tales (from which the image above is taken) and The Good Dog Book in this article.

I’ve listed some of the other ASIFA articles on Tenggren below. You’ll find links to them, and lots of other amazing work, in the Classic Illustration section of their “Top Ten Reasons to Contribute to A-HAA” page, which, as they point out, is just the tip of the iceberg.

As always with the ASIFA posts, click on the image for stunning high-resolution versions that begin to do justice to this amazing artist’s landmark illustrations.

 
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Arthur Mount (update)

Arthur Mount
What strikes me about Arthur Mount’s crisp, clean illustrations is what he leaves out.

I’m not just talking about the degree to which he simplifies his images, extracting from his reference material just those visual elements that are crucial to conveying the subject, but the line he draws (if you’ll excuse the expression) between a final piece and the temptation to add more.

There are areas in his drawings, particularly of faces, in which most artists would find it difficult to resist adding more, like shadows on noses. Mount holds back, leaving a kind of dynamic balance between rendering and abstraction that walks the edge, and works wonderfully.

He conveys much with his carefully placed and shaped areas of color (which I presume are drawn in a vector illustration program), choosing colors that, though they appear naturalistic, are actually not the colors you might find in a photograph or representational painting of the subject, but are carefully designed to “fill in” for a wider range of colors, a bit like bass players who fill in for rhythm guitar in power pop trios.

I first wrote about Arthur Mount back in 2005. Since then he has added considerably to his portfolio. In addition to his people, who include a number of famous faces, he has sections for architecture, places, objects and maps.

Both his “Storyboards” and “Instructional” sections contain some fascinating wordless storytelling.

Once you pop up a detail image from a thumbnail, you can move forward or backward through the gallery selections. It’s worth noting that simply clicking on the image will move you forward, a nice usability touch.

Mount has an extensive client list, including The New York Times, Fortune, GQ, The London Times, Popular Science, and a number of commercial clients. The Selected Projects section walks though a few of his projects in depth.

I really enjoy beautifully done diagrams, which at their best are a seamless blend of art and design. Mount brings those design skills to his illustrations, with a control of negative space that is the powerful foundation on which he builds his clear, forceful images.

 
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Pochade Boxes

This post was updated May 12, 2012.

Alla Prima Pochade box - Bitterroot 10x12

Jullian French easelThough the practice by individuals can be traced back further, painting en plein air, meaning in the plain air or simply painting out of doors, was first practiced in significant numbers by artists in the Forest of Fontainbleau in the mid 19th Century.

Around that time, the advent of soft metal tubes for carrying paint and the development of the “box easel”, or “French easel” as it is more commonly known today (image at left), made it much more practical to carry painting equipment into the field. The practice was subsequently made even more popular by the French Impressionists, and by painters influenced by them in America and elsewhere.

Plein air painting has undergone something of a renaissance in the last 20 years or so, a phenomenon which seems to be growing. As in the 19th Century, there is new equipment that makes the practice easier and more practical, notably a new generation of pochade boxes.

Pochade is a French word meaning a small painted sketch, particularly one painted in oils, out of doors, and often in preparation for a larger, more finished work. I think it’s one of those French words that’s actually used more commonly among non French speakers. It’s derived from a 19th Century French verb, pocher, meaning to sketch.

A pochade box, then, is a portable painting box with a built in easel, meant to facilitate the creation of small alla prima paintings or sketches.

A pochade box shouldn’t be confused with a simple painting box, which holds painting supplies and a wooden palette, but has no provision for acting as an easel.

Modern pochade boxes are fitted with tripod mounts which allow them to be set up in an extremely flexible fashion, and carried to the painting site more easily than the traditional outdoor painting box/easel combination known as a French easel.

Portable easels

French easels are still in wide use and have many adherents, and they are better suited for some things, such as handling large scale paintings and stretched canvasses (as opposed to panels).

Soltek, SunEden and Take-it-Easel portable easels
There are also a number of other types of dedicated outdoor portable easels for that purpose, like the Soltek, SunEden or Take-it-Easel (image above, left to right), or the Coulter Plein Air System (not pictured).

Some of these can be less expensive than a pochade box/tripod combination and are generally lighter and easier to set up than French easels, but are generally not as flexible or easy to adjust in terms of the position of the panel and palette as a pochade box mounted on a photographic tripod. If you haven’t decided on your ideal outdoor painting solution yet, you should give them a look.

Pochade boxes

For small scale paintings, the pochade box is becoming the outdoor painting platform of choice.

Some will say that anything larger than 6×8″ doesn’t count as a “pochade”, but the modern boxes are bridging the gap between that definition and the function of French easels, the larger ones easily handling 12×16″ (30x40cm) panels or even larger.

I did a bit of research this year before acquiring my own pochade box, and I’ll try to give you the benefit of my rather exhaustive search with an overview of what I found.

Most pochade boxes are designed to handle flat painting panels, like primed Masonite, or canvas attached to a board, though some will also hold (but not carry) small stretched canvases.

Pochade boxes come in a variety of sizes, usually to fit standard size panels, such as 6×8″, 8×10″, 9×12″, etc. The smaller boxes are lighter but also have a smaller palette area, though most manufacturers offer palette extensions or add-ons of some kind, as well as ways of attaching fluid cups and holding brushes.

Most pochade boxes are primarily aimed at oil painting, but some of the manufacturers also have pastel or watercolor models, and oil oriented boxes can be adapted for watercolor with the addition of a watercolor palette, as many of them have panel holders that will open to a reasonably flat position.

Types of pochade boxes

Open Box M pochade boxPochade boxes fall into two major configurations; the first type, I’ll call “palette and panel only”, the second, I’ll call “all in one” (obviously not official terms of any sort).

The former is a combination of a recessed palette surface, usually a wood traditionally used for palettes, like birch (which some artists cover with a sheet of glass or plexiglass), with an attached, hinged panel holder, forming the easel. The whole unit has a standard photographic tripod mount underneath that allows for it to be adjusted and set in virtually any position when mounted on the tripod (Open Box M 8×10 above left)

The painting panel is held in place by a variety of mechanisms, depending on the manufacturer. There is also variation in the means of adjusting the angle of the easel back.

For the palette and panel style boxes, painting supplies and wet panels are carried separately, and the manufacturers often sell complete “kits” that fit into a wooden box, cloth bag or carrying pack.

Open Box M pochade boxThe “all in one” style pochade box not only provides a palette and easel, but also incorporates storage for painting supplies and/or the built in provision for carrying wet panels. (Alla Prima Pochade “Bitterroot” at left)

The advantage of the all in one style is that everything is in one unit, and, depending on the configuration, the painting supplies are at hand in drawers or compartments right there near the palette while you’re painting. The disadvantage is that the all in one boxes are bulkier and heavier, and require a more sturdy (and expensive) tripod.

“Palette and panel only” style pochade boxes

 

Open Box M pochade boxOpen Box M

This is one of the most popular and well regarded manufacturers of this type of pochade box. They use a spring loaded horizontal clip system to hold the panels, which allows access to all parts of the panel without obstruction.

Their complete kit includes a walnut carrying box and matched wet panel holder. They also have lightweight kits with a soft pack instead of the outer box.

In addition, they make “palm boxes“, meant to be held to the hand with a strap instead of mounted on a tripod. You can also purchase the palette/panel holders separately, without the panel carrier and outer box.

I note that, among others, James Gurney, who is a dedicated plein air painter as well as a talented studio painter and illustrator, uses and recommends an Open Box M pochade box. I have a high regard for Gurney’s expertise. Gurney’s blog, Gurney Journey, has a number of posts in which you can see good shots of his Open Box M pochade box in use.

Open Box M has dedicated models for pastels and watercolor. The boxes range from 8×10″ to 12×16″. They also carry Manfrotto tripods and a line of plein air painting accessories.

 

EASyL Versa pochade boxEASyL and ProChade

EASyL and ProChade are brand names for pochade boxes from Artwork Essentials. These also have their adherents among well known painters. Notably, Kevin Macpherson, who some of you may recognize as the author of some very popular (and quite good) books on painting, has given the ProChade model his official endorsement.

The EASyL and ProChade models use a vertical spring-mounted holder that does not restrict the size of the panel horizontally (though past a certain point, you would overload the box). The boxes range from 10×12″ to 12×16″.

The EASyL models (though not the ProChade) provide carrying for wet (or dry) panels in the back of the easel, placing them somewhere between the panel and palette style and all in one style of boxes. Some of the models offer a limited compartment separate from the palette area for carrying a few supplies. You can order a separator grid that fits in the recessed palette area for pastels.

When looking at the product pages on their site, note that they offer downloadable PDF files that go into more detail about the boxes than the web pages. There is also a PDF chart comparing their various boxes side by side. Their boxes come with a matched tripod.

Like Open Box M, Artwork Essentials carries a line of pochade box and plein air painting accessories, in their case one of the most complete, including a clamp-on lightweight umbrella and even plein air style picture frames.

 

Craftech Sienna pochade boxCraftech Sienna

The Craftech Sienna is a relatively new (to me) entry in the field, and has rapidly been adopted by art suppliers like Dick Blick and others, as well as by Amazon.

They offer a line of two sizes of pochade box, an optional Supply Box, a panel carrier, watercolor and pastel inserts and a Craftech brand tripod.

The panel holding system is wood and seems reasonably flexible in terms of panel size, the larger box holding panels or canvasses up to 17″ (43cm) high and the smaller up to 15″ (38cm).

These boxes seem to offer a less expensive alternative to some of the other models in this category. I have to wonder, though, how well their wooden panel angle mechanism will hold up in comparison to the metal systems used by other makers.

Reader Paul Forest describes them as a good beginner’s box. See his comment on this article’s 2011 follow-up post.

 

Pochade.co.uk pochade boxPochade.co.uk

Pochade.co.uk was the site of UK pochade painter Antony Bridge, through which he was selling some of his small paintings. You may have seen some of his videos on YouTube.

He added other painters to his site, and started carrying a single model of small pochade boxes like the one he personally used.

Since then, he appears to have dropped that original box, and added a pochade shop with painting supplies and pochade boxes from Guerrilla, as well as a pair of 6×8 and 8×10″ boxes with a design I haven’t seen elsewhere (at left).

These appear to be paired units of separate palette and panel and material storage boxes, that strap together for transport. The boxes are evidently meant to be used on lap or in hand as they do not appear to have tripod mounts (though there is a “cigar box” model that does). The product images in the shop are inexplicably small and unhelpful.

 

“All in one” style pochade boxes

 

Judsons Guerrilla Painter pochade boxJudsons Guerrilla Painter

This is the brand of pochade boxes you will most commonly encounter in retail settings, art supply stores and online art suppliers, along with newcomers Craftech Sienna, Mabef and some French easel manufacturers. The other brands usually have to be ordered directly from the manufacturer.

Judson’s has a line of pochade boxes and accessories and sell their own branded tripods as well. They show a typical setup for oils, watermedia and pastels.

The Guerrilla Painter boxes feature a compartmented space beneath the palette area, accessed by sliding the palette surface to one side. They are probably the deepest boxes on the market with the most space for supplies.

The hinged back holds two wet panels. If I understand the configuration correctly, one of them is the active panel, which is held in place by clips. The clips in this case do not appear to be spring mounted or adjustable, apparently limiting the horizontal size of the panel to the size of the box unless you use an optional adapter. They indicate that the box can accommodate larger panels vertically, but it seems to be one of the least flexible of the panel holder systems.

French Resistance pochade boxJusdon’s has more recently introduced an additional line of “French Resistance” pochade boxes (image at left), with a different configuration in which the box bottom, or a section of it, is the palette. These have a more flexible panel holder system.

Judson’s also sells umbrellas and a broad range of other pochade and general painting supplies and accessories. They also make small “ThumBox” models, with a thumb hole in the bottom, for holding like a traditional artist’s palette, in addition to the tripod mount. The thumb boxes are 6×8″ and the Guerrilla Box comes in 9×12″ or 12×16″ sizes.

Though tripods are not included with the boxes as they are with ArtWork Essentials, Judson’s site is helpful in that they offer separate tripods matched to their boxes, eliminating the need to guess at what’s appropriate.

 

Mabef pochade boxThe Billups Box

Designed by artist Betty Billips, these boxes come in 8×10 and 9×12 sizes and feature a drop down front with wet panel storage (up to six panels) accessible shelf-like, under the compartment for supplies.

The palette is a fold-out system, twice the size of the box.

The boxes are made of high-impact plastic instead of wood.

 

Billups Box pochade boxMabef Pochade Box

Easel manufacturer Mabef, who also makes French easels, offers a 13×16″ pochade box that handles panels up to 9×12″. It looks like there is storage for materials and two panels.

They also offer an accompanying wooden tripod that is somewhat unique in the field and is apparently based on their French Easel legs. While not as versatile or sturdy as a professional camera tripod, it’s relatively inexpensive.

 

Abbey Easela pochade boxAbbey Easels (UK)

This UK manufacturer of various styles of easels offers three pochade boxes, though it doesn’t look to me as though they can be tripod mounted and are evidently meant to be used on a table. One fits 203x152mm (8×6″) and the other 360x255mm (14×10″). They also offer a watercolor pochade box meant to fit an A5 pad in the lid.

It doesn’t look at though the lid angles are very adjustable.

 

Utrecht (Jullian) pochade boxUtrecht (Jullian)

This is a small “thumb” style box, meant to be held in the hand with the thumb through a hole in the bottom like a traditional palette. It’s made by Jullian, who manufacture the most popular French Easel, and branded for art supply company Utrecht. The box itself is 7×9″ and fits panels 6×8″ (horizontal) or 8×10″ (vertical).

The UK Jullian site (scroll down the page) shows them as sold with a set of paints and brushes and includes a panel sized at 22x16cm.

 

Alla Prima Pochade  boxAlla Prima Pochade

Alla Prima Pochade boxes are crafted by a single woodworker, Ben Haggett, though he is a full time dedicated pochade box maker as well as a plein air painter.

Alla Prima has a full line of sizes and styles and should be thought of in the same league with the larger manufacturers like Open Box M, EASyL and Guerrilla.

I have to make a bit of a disclaimer at this point.

After doing the research you’re getting the benefit of here, looking at all of the options I could find, and determining that my personal preference was for an all in one style box, I decided on one from Alla Prima Pochade. I was very impressed with the design, features and evident craftsmanship.

I then approached Haggett about redoing the Alla Prima Pochade web site, to which he agreed, and he is now my client. The web site you’ll see if you visit is the one I designed. So I can no longer say I’m unbiased; though I was when I initially made my decision to choose one of his boxes.

Haggett is wonderfully clever. His boxes feature several different configurations, based on the size of the box and the best solution he can design to accommodate carrying panels, brushes and other supplies in each. He also has unorthodox and clever solutions for the hinge mechanism, using torsion springs that eliminate the need for knobs or wingnuts.

His panel holder solution is equally unorthodox and remarkably flexible, consisting of a lower panel rest held in place by (uncommonly strong) magnets, that move in channels behind the panel holder, and a sheet-spring top clip. Like the EASyL models there is no restraint to the horizontal size, though you can only carry that so far without the box becoming unwieldy.

Alla Prima Pochade  boxMagnets also close the box lid, which holds four 1/8″ thick panels (or two 1/4″). The panel storage has a removable adapter that allows for carrying smaller panels, e.g. the 10×12 model can carry a 10×12, 9×12, 6×8 and 8×10 all at the same time. The magnets also make it easy to stick palette knives to the box when working, though palette knife painters have to be careful when painting in the vicinity of the bottom panel holder.

In the smallest, 6×8″, model, he uses a sliding palette to cover the storage bin, like the Guerrilla Painter configuration. In the 8×10, he has a single drawer. Both feature clip-on palette extenders.

The larger boxes, 10×12″ and 11×14″, utilize two drawers that can extend in a balanced manner when painting, one of which can hold a palette extension and both of which are drilled to serve as brush holders.

There are “lite” versions of his two biggest models – essentially palette and panel holder only variations with no drawers. They still incorporate brush and wet panel storage (2 panels instead of 4). Haggett can also build custom pochade boxes on request.

All of his boxes can be extended with optional “piggyback adapters” that tie into the box when closed (with magnets and a strap) to allow for carrying larger panels than the lid would normally accommodate (e.g. the 6×8 box can carry 8×10″ panels, the 10×12 can carry 12×16″). The piggyback can hang from the tripod when painting to serve as an extra bin.

The Alla Prima Pochade boxes themselves range in size from 6×8″ to 11×14″; the 11×14 can handle up to 14×18″ panels with its piggyback.

Like most of the other manufacturers, he also sells separate wet panel carriers for extra storage. Alla Prima doesn’t sell tripods, but Haggett does give a few suggestions.

Their are videos of Haggett demonstrating the boxes and how they work, that are also available on YouTube.

I got the 10×12 “Bitterroot” model (image at the top of the article shows my box in use) and I’ve been very pleased. The box is physically beautiful and a joy to use. My father was a woodworker and museum model maker and I know good woodworking when I see it. The cleverness is put to good use and the box is extremely easy to set up, and everything just seems to be exactly where I need it while painting. Plus the thing smells great.

 

Tripods

Bogen Manfrotto 190
Except for some of the handheld models, most pochade boxes are fitted with tripod mounts, though you can certainly use them in your lap or on a table. I’ve mentioned in the course of the article that although some boxes come with tripods, most don’t.

Even the lightest boxes are heavier than most cameras, so your $30 K-Mart tripod probably won’t hold them very well except for the smallest models. For the all in one style, the largest of which can weigh in at 8-10lbs or more with paint and panels in them, you’ll want a sturdy professional tripod.

If you’re serious, look at a professional specialty camera store (as opposed to typical mall stores), if possible, take your pochade box with you. Some of the brands mentioned include Bogen (Bogen Junior or Bogen Digi), Velbon and Silk. James Gurney uses a Velbon CX 444 for his relatively light Open Box M. For my all in one Bitterroot, that has drawers for supplies in addition to the panel carrier lid, I went a little overboard and got a Bogen Manfrotto 190 (at left) and a 488 head (tripods and heads are often separate units at the professional level).

For those who have a heavy box like mine and want a cheaper option, you might investigate this Ravelli APGL3. I can’t speak from personal experience, but it looks suitable. There are a number of cheaper options, but I can’t predict their quality or stability. Reviews from buyers on sites like Amazon can sometimes be helpful if you can compare enough of them.

As Ben Haggett points out, though, a tripod for a pochade box doesn’t have to be rock steady as it does for a camera with a large lens, and you can often get away with overloading them beyond spec; as long as they don’t have a flimsy head or quick release shoe that will break under strain.

Check eBay, Craig’s List or your parents’ attic. You’ll be surprised how many tripods are gathering dust somewhere, waiting to be used.

Painting Panels

Painting panels by Ampersand and RayMar Art
There are various sources for buying or making primed or canvas covered panels. I sacrifice money to save time and buy already prepared 1/8″ panels that fit easily into panel carriers.

I’ve used the smooth Ampersand Gessobord panels from Dick Blick and other art supply houses, and liked them fine; but I now prefer the real canvas surface of the Canvas Plein Air Panels from RayMar Art.

For those inclined to make their own painting panels, there are some resources on this Squidoo lens from Sue Favinger Smith and this step by step on Making a Canvas Board by Larry Seiler.

 

Box Sizes

When I give sizes for the boxes, it’s a reference to the size of the panels they hold, not their outer dimensions. For the benefit of those outside the US here is a rough conversion of common panel and box sizes:

6×8″ — 15x20cm
8×10″ — 20x25cm
9x 12″ — 23x30cm
10×12″ — 25x30cm
11×14″ — 27x35cm
12×16″ — 30x40cm

(and here is an interesting map of all of the countries in the world that do not use the metric system).

Do it Yourself pochade boxes

If you’re inclined to woodworking, or simple tinkering, there are some DIY options.

Artist Easel Plans pochade boxArtist Easel Plans

Artist Easel Plans is a web site that offers $20 plans for building what looks like reasonably professional pochade boxes, in theory for around $30 in materials (though this figure is probably a few years old). You could, of course, design and spec your own box, but they’ve saved you some steps and guesswork here, provided you like their designs. You could also take their plans as a starting point for your own.

The all-in-one style pochade box they call “The Titanium Easel” (left, top) is, I think, designed to carry 10×12 panels and will hold smaller ones as well with a horizontal spring clip similar to Open Box M. Panel storage is under a lift-out palette that sits in the bin and could also be used for supply storage. (I’m not sure from the pictures if you can store both panels and supplies or must choose between them.) Not the most convenient arrangement for getting at supplies when working, but serviceable I suppose. There are slide-out trays for holding brushes and cups while working.

Plein air artist Bill Sharp has apparently built one of these (or something very similar) and has a larger photo on his blog.

They also have plans for “The Sienna Easel”, a palette and panel only box similar in configuration to the Craftech and others (left, bottom). There are also plans for a pastel easel with trays and a lay-flat watercolor pochade box that oil painters may find appealing as well, with a different configuration than their other pochade boxes.

 

Artist Easel Plans pochade boxThe Serrett Box

At one time, Artist Jim Serrett offered a fairly complete set of instructions for how to build your own pochade box, along with with instructions for how to build a pochade box panel carrier, but he has apparently lost or abandoned the domain name for the site on which they were originally posted and hasn’t reposted them to his Pochade Box Paintings blog.

However, there is an older post that showcases his “Serrett Box” as built by other artists, as well as a more current update (though as far as I can tell, still no reposting of the original plans).

Artist Ron Guthrie has a post and some follow-ups (and here) in which he chronicles his process in building a Serrett Box.

 

$15 cigar box pochade boxSturdy pochade box DIY

On WetCanvas, Antti Rautiola walks you through his DIY pochade box with an extended aluminum panel holder to accommodate large panels. He focuses on the details of the hardware configurations.

 

Building a pochade box, Fawzan BarrageFawzan Barrage videos and plans

Plein air painter Fawzan Barrage has two videos (on YouTube here and here) that describe building a reasonably sophisticated pochade box that incorporates a wet panel holder.

Though the videos are not step-by step, he offers an eBook of plans for a larger, more finished version for $20 (left, bottom). There is a preview of the eBook on Lulu.

 

Homemade Pochade Box for Plein Air Oil or Acrylic PaintingHomemade Pochade Box for Plein Air Oil or Acrylic Painting

Though not step-by-step, in this YouTube video Scott Ruthven demos his design for a DIY all-in-one style pochade box with supplies under the palette and wet panel storage in the lid.

 

Paint box conversion to pochade boxxThe paint box conversion

David R. Becker shows you how he converted an old wooden painting box (the kind simply meant to carry paints and a palette) into a pochade box with the addition of some homemade brackets, new hinges and a “Teenut” fastener for the tripod mount.

His box is designed for water media, but could easily be adapted for oils. No fancy panel holders here, the panel just sets in the lid. I’m not sure how you would keep smaller ones from moving around.

 

sketchin Dan's DIY pochade boxSketchin Dan’s DIY pochade box

A kind of how-to in the form of a Flickr photo stream, annotated with notes on the photos for a basic box to hold 6×8″. The panel holder setup is a bit crude, consisting of office supply clips, bolts and washers, but hey, we’re talking cheap DIY here. He doesn’t go in to much detail on the box itself, mostly concentrating on the hinge, panel holder and accessories. He also, unfortunately, breezes past the rather crucial point of the tripod mount.

 

DIY Quick, Easy, Cheap Pochade Boxes Made Without ToolsDIY Quick, Easy, Cheap Pochade Boxes Made Without Tools

In this YouTube video, Joanie Springer demos a quick and dirty conversion for cigar box and artists paint box to DIY pochade boxes. By “quick and dirty” I mean duct tape is involved.

 

$15 cigar box pochade boxThe $15 cigar box pochade box

In this longstanding article, Ellie Clemens tells you how she converted a wooden cigar box into a small hand-held pochade box with inexpensive hardware.

This is probably a clue to where the original pochade boxes came from. I can just see Constable or Corot tinkering up one of these in the 1800’s.

 
 
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Michael Brown

Michael Brown
Michael Brown is an artist about whom I can find little information. I came across his work on the web site for Gallery Nucleus.

He indulges in some delightful weirdness involving vaguely bunny-like things holding matches, sinister looking rabbits and birds with human eyes, and, in particular, beautifully colored translucent imaginary undersea invertebrates, floating languidly somewhere in the dark oceans of Brown’s mind.

The gallery offers prints as well as originals and a book of Brown’s recent works.

 
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