What is a pochade box - OutdoorPainter.com
Laurel Sherrie, painting en plein air with her handy pochade box

Just for fun! Laurel Sherrie loves her pochade box for painting outdoors, where she has had some plein air experiences worth sharing!

by Laurel Sherrie (www.laurelsherrie.com)

When I’m getting ready to go painting on location, usually the first thing I reach for is my pochade box. It’s convenient, compact, easy to set up, and it keeps a wet painting protected when I’m done!

What is a pochade box - OutdoorPainter.com

So, what is a pochade box?

A pochade (from French poche, pocket) is a type of sketch used in painting that captures the colors and atmosphere of a scene. Generally, pochades use a small, portable format.
And a pochade box is a small easel made for easy transport that holds canvas and paint.

I enjoy painting on 6 x 8-inch canvas panels that I make myself by gluing oil-primed linen canvas (the best canvas in the world) to ¼-inch birch plywood (it never warps). The small size allows me to really capture a moment in time quickly, and they are puncture proof in case they fall.

[Related article: “Plein Air Art Supplies: Choosing the Right Paint Box”]

Here are a couple of adventures with my pochade box:

Limekiln, Redwoods Stream & Redwoods Path

If you have never been to Limekiln State Park, it’s worth the trip up the coast. I recently went there to paint the redwoods — the southernmost stand of coast redwoods, and they are breathtaking. I was determined to paint on location there.

Painting en plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
Left: Limekiln path
Right: Laurel Sherrie, “Redwoods Stream,” oil, 12 x 9 in.

It was February, and the stream was full from recent rains. The path crisscrosses the stream, and it was challenging, especially with painting equipment, but thanks to my husband and to the compactness of my pochade box (and despite my trepidation), we made it.

I found the perfect spot, although it was a very narrow ledge 10 feet above the creek, and my little easel with the tripod just barely fit. The creek was rushing with a small waterfall over the rocks and was so serene. Although I was sure I was perched at the end of a trail, some hikers still wanted to go beyond me! They picked their way past me, barely managing to not fall in the creek or get wet paint on their clothes . . . and all the while, I was holding my breath, hoping my easel wouldn’t get knocked over and fall in the creek.

Painting at Hearst State Beach: A Horse Story

I set up my pochade box near an artist friend, next to a fence with a view to the old schoolhouse at Hearst State Beach. This is a beautiful area across Highway 1 from Hearst Castle. There were two horses in the field that really added to the ambiance.

Painting en plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
A beautiful spot for painting en plein air

We were painting away for a couple of hours, and the two horses in the field got curious, probably looking for treats, and came over to us. They moseyed over and stood there for a few minutes as I was admiring them.

Suddenly — I couldn’t believe it — one of the horses put its great, huge head over the fence and right smack into my palette! When it lifted its head up, it had cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, and cadmium red all over its muzzle! Now, I’m an avid animal lover, but I’m not experienced with horses! I had trepidation about how to get this paint off of the horse! Luckily, my friend was more familiar with horses, and together we dipped paper towels into mineral spirits and kept wiping his muzzle. We kept wiping and wiping, and although we got most of it off, that muzzle was still tinted yellow, orange, and red!

Painting en plein air - OutdoorPainter.com

There was no one around, so I went into the nearby little store, Sebastian’s to tell them about what happened, and asked them to kindly relay it to the Hearst Ranch cowboy in charge so they wouldn’t be wondering why their horse was tinted with yellow, red, and orange!

Here are some of my most recent pochades:

Painting en plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
Laurel Sherrie, “Point Buchon Rocks,” oil, 6 x 8 in.
Painting en plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
Laurel Sherrie, “Hwy 46 West Morning Shadows,” oil, 9 x 12 in.
Painting en plein air - OutdoorPainter.com
Laurel Sherrie, “Hwy 46 West, Green & Gold Summer,” oil, 9 x 12 in.

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