We asked plein air artist Jude Tolar, “Do you know of a great, light pochade box for pastel painters?” Tolar’s response was worth quoting in full.
“I use two setups depending on where I’m painting. For most plein air work, I use a Heilman Backpack pastel box (filled with mostly Terry Ludwig soft pastels, plus some Senneliers and Giraults). It is pre-drilled to hold the aluminum easel (they also sell this). The box has a quick-release attachment. I attach it to a Guerilla Field Tripod (from Judson’s Outfitters). Also, I sometimes use an Easel Butler, which attaches to the tripod, to hold a box of Nupastels. (Other times I just set the Nupastels on the ground, or on the black stone bag that comes with the tripod.) I bungee the Hellman box to the tripod, and bungee the Nupastels box to the Easel Butler. Fairly lightweight setup, easy to put together, undaunted in wind and other plein air settings.
“The Hellman box, when filled, weighs about 10 pounds. I carry it in one tote bag, my Nupastels/accessories/paper in another bag, and the tripod has a carrying case for slinging over my shoulder.
“This isn’t perfect, because 10 pounds is somewhat heavy. But it works well for walking reasonable distances, and allows me to have ample range of colors/values. I have yet to find a sturdy-enough pochade box that isn’t wood. Someone please invent one.”
“For traveling by air or for hiking up or long distances, I use a different setup: a box of the Sennelier Paris set of half-stick pastels. Broke them in half, removed one half of each, and filled in with Terry Ludwigs and Nupastels/Giraults. This is bungeed to the Easel Butler, which is attached to a very lightweight aluminum easel. The easel goes in my checked suitcase (or backpack if hiking); the Paris set goes in my carryon—bungeed! The Paris set comes in a heavy-duty cardbox that holds up well. I’ve even used the lid of it as a support for my paper, and no easel at all.”
This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2022
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