Virtual Art Academy
Coulter Easel compact painting palette
Coulter Easel compact painting palette

Coulter Plein Air Easel


The Coulter Plein Air System is a wooden palette box and panel support system with a high ratio of paint mixing room to weight.

Company name: Art Box and Panel


Pochade box name: Compact Painting Palette

Type: Palette Boxes/PanelSupport

Price range:  $250-$300

Weight:  4lbs, 1.8kg

Palette size: 12″x16″, 30..5cm x 40.6cm

Construction: Wood

Average Rating: 4.1 stars (based on 7 ratings)


Coulter plein air easel

The main mixing area is 1″ deep and the wings are 1/2″ deep. You can hold and mix your oil paint in the palette just like it is. You can also mix paint in the two side wings or use them to place your brushes, palette knives, or brush cleaner container. It is recommended that you apply a thin coat of linseed oil to cut down the absorption. Some artists like to have a piece of glass or plexiglass to fit.

Coulter Plein Air System Compact Painting Palette
Coulter Plein Air System Compact Painting Palette

The palette has more than twice the paint mixing space (Standard palette is 12″ by 16″) than most outdoor systems but remarkably weighs less. You can also use the inside of the wings to double your mixing room, or to use as space to lay brushes, palette knives, and other painting materials. You may have a piece of glass or plexiglass cut and installed inside the palette if you want.

coulter box panel holders
panel holders for Couter box plein air system.


Many of the parts are made from solid oak which makes it very durable for field work and packing it for travel. The Palette frame is made from lightweight Pine and the mixing areas are Baltic Birch. There are no complicated moving parts to break and if you accidentally lose a part it may be found in most hardware stores.

How to set it up

You can also raise up the tripod head and put the panel holder upside down. This works well for painting sitting down or if you just want your panel closer to your palette.


To compare it with other plein air easels, see my Guide to Plein Air Easels.
To compare it with other pochade boxes, see my Guide to Pochade Boxes.

Reviews of Coulter Plein Air System

An efficient high area to weight ratio

This is an interesting box and ranks highly in my efficiency ratio. I don’t have one of these so I can’t evaluate it properly. I do like the idea of wood because it is easy to fix if you are on a trip and have an accident. It has a 30% more palette area than… Read more “An efficient high area to weight ratio”

Barry Raybould

Coulter Box

The Coulter Box offers a large palette surface with plenty of room to mix paint and to sit accessories on either side of the palette. It is very easy to attach to a tripod. It is constructed well. I’m a big fan as I like a larger palette.

Diane Farquhar Hallstrom
United States

Love the Coulter System

I have the smaller version of this box. It fits nicely in a backpack and the tripod is small and light weight, so the whole system travels well. I highly recommend it!

Sandy Waters

I love the Coulter Box.

I love the Coulter Box. I have used it with the Beauport and it is my main studio box. I bought it used from a friend when I was just starting out and love it’s sturdiness and the size of the palette. It regretfully is too large to fit into a carryon for air travel… Read more “I love the Coulter Box.”

Cynthia Rosen

I have two different pochade

I have two different pochade boxes and a Julian French easel, but find I use the Coulter palette box the most now. It is the easiest to set up and by far the most stable — no wobble at all — unlike pochade boxes. I chose it for the larger palette space combined with plenty… Read more “I have two different pochade”

Catherine Cabbell


I have this system and love it. I teach and it sets up very fast and is sturdy. I have two palettes, the small and I paint on the large one in my studio. Very well made.

Barbara Haviland

Beware of Panel Holder

I bought the Coulter system last year (2019). The panel holder does not securely hold foam core in place while painting. Also, the structure of the paint box has large wood brackets to attach to the easel. These supports are bulky and use valuable space in the pack. I wrote to Jim Coulter outlining the… Read more “Beware of Panel Holder”

Nancy Rosel Brown

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