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You can greatly enhance your creativity by doing lots of studies in a small format. By using small homemade pochade boxes like these, there is no excuse not to carry one or a few wherever you go to do rapid plein air studies. And the best of it is that they cost less than $10 and take no time to make. Here’s how to do it.
Homemade pochade box: the palette
Make the palette by laying several strips of masking tape onto a cigarette box. You can use the lid for mixing, and the base for your colors.
This is perfect for creating small sketches like this one:
Alternative palette plus panel area
Alternatively, you can make a homemade pochade box using a slightly larger very lightweight plastic box. These boxes are sometimes used for watercolor painting. You can tape a couple of small pieces of linen or canvas to the lid to paint on.
I found this pencil case which is a perfect box for three or four small sketches. If you have a few of these you can carry a large number of wet sketches for virtually no weight. This is a great setup when you are hiking.
Pizza box pochade box
To make the box, simply cover the base of a regular pizza box with strips of wide masking tape. The masking tape makes it easier to clean, and prevents the paint sinking into the cardboard and drying out.
Sample micro paintings
Here are a few of my small quick color sketches I made using this setup.
- Use just one large brush. I use a worn filbert size 12. If you wear it into a triangular shape, you can use the tip for detail.
- Carry a little plastic bottle of odorless mineral spirit with you for cleaning your brush. Or you can use water if you are using water-soluble oils.
- You can also carry a little bottle of linseed oil with you. If you dip your brush in linseed oil when you have finished painting, it will prevent the paint drying on the brush.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you are interested in a structured approach for learning how to paint, and want to learn more about my Visual Music & Poetry® model, take a look at my online painting classes.
Barry John Raybould
Virtual Art Academy
Great suggestions, all. Thank you.
Barry! These little paintings are sooo beautiful!
Thank you for sharing your tips.
Thank you Barry!! I’ve been looking for solution for plein air painting and the commercial pochade boxes are so cumbersome and expensive. These small boxes make plein air much more accessible. And love the small sketches you did… so beautiful!!