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How to find a best tripod for your pochade box

I make pochade boxes to be installed on a standard photo tripod with the 1/4″-20 UNC screw. So the pochade box has a nut at its bottom to mount like a photo or video camera.

I am not selling tripods at my shop by several reasons. First of all, by the reason of saving your money. It would be cheaper for you to order a tripod on Amazon or directly from the manufacturer webstore. Second reason is that it is dependent of your conditions, such as:

  • your height;
  • the weight of your pochade box;
  • the way you’d like to travel with it.

Here are some key features and considerations when choosing a tripod:

1) Stability. Tripod should be sturdy and stable to support the weight of your pochade box. Look for tripods made of durable materials like aluminum or carbon fiber, which offer a good balance of stability and portability.

2) Load Capacity, sometimes referred to as a weight limit or maximum load.

The rule of thumb for the load capacity is the more the weight and dimentions of your pochade box, the more the load capacity should be:

  • for the lightest pocket pochades like Martlet for 4×6 or 5×7 the weight limit of 3-4 kg would be fine.
  • for the medium ones that weight around 1 kg like Martlet for 6×8, Alpine 8×10, small sketch boxes or watercolor pochades I recommend to have the load capacity of 5-6 kg.
  • for the larger pochade boxes the weight limit should be 12 kg or more.

As you see, it is not a linear dependance. The tripods with high load capacity are made more sturdy, stable and are less likely to overturn with your pochade due to the wind.

3) Height and Adjustability. Check the maximum and minimum height of the tripod to ensure it suits you. Look for adjustable legs with multiple sections and a center column that allow for flexible positioning.

The maximum height of the tripod should be enough to place a pochade box at the level of your chest.

The minimun height may be importand if you’d like to put it in your backpack. Though, I advise you not to put everything in your backpack to save your back from overload and subsequent problems.

4) Leg Locking Mechanism. Tripods often feature different leg-locking mechanisms, such as twist locks or flip locks.

I have been using both and prefer twist locks because I find it more reliable and less likely to be damaged. On the other hand, flip locks are qiucker to set up.

5) Head Type. Tripods usually come with a detachable head, which allows you to mount your camera and make adjustments. The most common types of tripod heads are ball heads and pan/tilt heads. Ball heads offer more flexibility and quick adjustments, while pan/tilt heads provide precise control over movement.

Since we have no need for a precise positioning, always look for a ball head.

If you have a big pochade, also look for a wider quick release plate. The pochade will be less likely to turn on it when you’re painting.

6) Weight and Portability. Carbon fiber tripods are lighter than aluminum, but they are generally more expensive.

7) Price. It’s generally worth investing in a quality tripod that suits your requirements. The plein air practice is complex enough even without fighting with your gear every time you’re painting outdoors. However, I would not recommend crazy expensive tripods as they will have some special features you won’t need (say, built-in levels, high precision head, etc).

If you are after a multipurpose tripod for using with your different sized boxes and your photo camera (often to take some photos of your art yourself), I would recommend a tripods with 12 kg load capacity. Here are some options I found at Amazon.

  • Zomei Q666. A cheaper option – chinese made, but fairly good quality. Not a miracle, but will suit your needs for sure. I use it all the time and can vouch for it. Aluminium. Height: 152 (max) – 38 (min) cm. Weight: 1.42 kg. Price: 62 USD.
  • SIRUI T-1004XL/E-10. Aluminium. Height: 169 (max) – 23 (min) cm. Weight: 1.5 kg. Price: 210 USD.
  • SmallRig 62.2″. A cheap carbon fiber one with flip locks. Height: 158 (max) – 42 (min) cm. Weight: 1.2 kg. Price: 149 USD
  • Rollei C6i. Carbon. Height: 133 (max) – 16 (min) cm. Weight: 1.17 kg. Price: 169 USD

Hope this information will be of some help to you. Thank you for reading!

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What is the pochade box and how to find out if I need it?

Hi there friends and fellow artists! If you are just beginning your way as a plein air painter, maybe this post will be helpful to you to pick the right equipment. I would like to share my thoughts about the pochade boxes and plein air easels and will dive into a bit of history of its evolution.

So the pochade box is about the pochade, which is a French word for a small outdoor oil sketch. And the box is something to hold and carry the sketch. It also could contain materials and instruments, but as I will show later in this post, it is quite optional.

The one of the first painters to work outdoors was Eugene Boudin. He was the predecessor of Impressionists, who then became the true adherents to plein air painting. Unlike the Romantic artists who tend to idealize nature, Boudin seeks for its common beauty and freshness that could be depicted only en plein air. He was a man of clear mind and knew how to convey his thoughts and feelings in simple language. Everything that is painted on the spot, he said to Claude Monet, is always distinguished by strength, expressiveness and liveliness of the brushstroke.

There were some artists who felt just like Boudin, so in the middle of 19th century the french easel was invented. This easel was build around the simple idea of taking a part of an artist’s workshop to some remote spot, be it outdoors or some other location.

Such easels are produced today and has little changes since Boudin’s times. French easels are mainly used by today’s impressionists – people who want to finish the whole big painting outdoors. They spend much paint and solvent, need a lot of brushes and materials to always be at hand. So the built-in boxes within the easel are quite handy. On the other hand, they need to deal with all this weight to carry to and from the spot. And probably not once, but many times, because the light is changing and there is a limited time one could work on a given scene.

Soon it become clear, for realist artists especially, that finishing the whole painting on the spot idea has disadvantages.

You see, it takes time to apply the paint, so there is a limitation of the size of painting for certain scenes. You can’t spend much time painting forest interior from life, same thing for dawn and dusk. It becomes a problem when you need a 40×80 inch painting .

You may also want to work with colour more. Or maybe you want to play with the scene, make an inspiration from it rather than correct colour. Or maybe you are just not skilled enough to finish the big canvas in 2 hours.

These reasons have led to the idea of using a pochade box. You can see the box owned by Tom Thomson to the left.

Thomson was a good example of painter who took an inspiration from the scene. He painted his emotions of seeing the scene, not the scene itself. In that case he is very close to the Van Gogh’s creativity to me.

He traveled for a long time, lived in the wilderness and I truly can’t imagine him carrying a heavy easel.

That’s how changing the view on painting changed the gear. Isaak Levitan was saying that small studies contain more truth than large ones. It is true even assuming that this “truth” thing is of course different for different artists.

There are a lot of pochade boxes at the market nowadays, but I think the purpose is still the same. The pochade box is after the colour studies, for those who go for a painting trips.

If you like to paint big outside, you will need an easel, not a pochade box. I think for panels larger than 15 inches you may start to struggle to paint with your lightweight setup because of the wind.

So here are some points of when you need a pochade box:

  1. You are a travel painter
  2. You want to paint fast changing scenes
  3. You want to be light on your feet
  4. You are a person with a disability
  5. You want to collect field studies to go for a big one at the studio
  6. You are a daily painter
  7. You are a fine art student
  8. You are sick of your french easel 🙂
Hope this helps
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Getting ready for a plein air session

Hey friends! I thought it would be nice to share with you how I pack my things for a plein air hiking trip. I’ve had a nice walk yesterday in the mountains of Lori province, Armenia, where I live with my family. It is a beautiful place and I’d recommend you to visit it one day.

So I intended to make a couple of colour sketches of my favorite panel size 5×7 inches. I have cut some with my CNC recently and ground it with Michael Harding acrylic primer. Here is what I’ve got here:

1 – A small day trip pochade with wet panel carrier for 4 panels. It’s my design of course 🙂 I’m going to put everything in my backpack, and this one is not going to break my back.

2 – Some paper towels to wipe my brushes. Sometimes I also paint with them but would really recommend a cloth for this purpose.

3 – The extension side palette. The box is small so I need some extra mixing space. This one is slot-in, no screws needed. This is my design also, check the link if you are interested.

4 – I use the plastic cup for my solvent – an odourless mineral spirit. I don’t spend much solvent, so this option is the most lightweight and if I need to wash a big brush, I always could add more. I used to have metal dippers in the past, but they are expensive and less handy overall.

5 – Paint tubes. I put my paints on the box’s palette before going outside and there are more colours than paint tubes. That’s because I am pretty sure I have enouth paint on the palette to leave the tube at home. Though, I always take my titanium white, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue deep, Payne’s grey, permanent orange, permanent yellow and cad yellow light.

6 – The solvent, the palette knife and a plastic bookmark from McDonald’s – an indispensable thing for painting thin lines with thick paint. I love it when painting forest interior. Always feel free to use whatever suits you 🙂

7 – Handmade leather brush case with brushes.

These are the paints I use. Somehow there are 12 numbers, but 13 paints.

1 – Transparent oxide red and yellow

2 – Light ochre

3 – Permanent orange. Would prefer cad, but it’s too expensive.

4 – Permanent yellow. I use it because it could be mixed with everything, and also it’s affordable.

5 – Cad yellow light when you need a final opaque touch, highlights.

6 – Cad red medium

7 – Quinacridone rose for vivid violets and mixing with chromium oxide to get the opaque black.

8 – Cromium oxide. It’s good to add some to the mixture of white and phtalo blue to make kinda substitute for my favorite sky paint – Chromium cobalt blue-green, which is crazy expensive. And also after the accident at Norilsk Nickel I’ve decided to get rid of all cobalts because of ecology reasons.

9 – Phtalo blue. Great strong transparent greenish blue. Very affordable also.

10 – Ultramarine deep

11 – Payne’s grey. Could be Ivory black.

12 – Titanium white

So then I pack my small things into a zipper bag and everything into my backpack. It is always lighter to store everything in a bag than in a wooden box – I mean the easel with space for materials. If I’m bold enough I could even leave more tubes at home, except the white of course. Here’s my setup packed up.

First pack
Second pack

Here we go to the mountains with all this stuff!

Sometimes you need to crawl
And finally painting!

Not very happy with the results, but had lots of fun 🙂

That’s all for now folks, hope it was helpful! Feel free to leave the comment if you have questions. See ya!

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About us

Hi! My name is Igor, and I am a fanatic plein air painter. I also like hiking and snowshoeing, so there was a problem that my easel was too heavy. Being also an engineer, I invent my own pochade box. And then I made another one. And again. Suddenly I discovered that my boxes are good for other artists, too, and I started to sell it.

I started on Etsy and was running a successful store. It become my family’s small business. I was building pochade boxes, which I constantly improved for 4 years now, and my wife Anna was sewing leather goods and helping me with social marketing.

We lived in Russia, and then the war started, so we lost everything: our work, our country and business. Due to our anti-war position, we could not stay there, so we have fled and now settled in Armenia.

We do love what we do, and strongly believe that our products are worth trying to start restoring everything from ashes in our new home country.