Recently in my HowToPastel Facebook group, member Barbara Archer shared how she had customized the Dakota Art Pochade Box to make plein air painting easier for herself. I loved the info and asked if she would like to write an article for Pastel Today readers. And here she is!
This is how I customized my Dakota Art Pochade Box with Mount for easier use.
Here’s the box as it comes from Dakota Art:
The Dakota Art Pochade Box comes complete with a foam insert, sized for their Blue Earth pastel sticks, as well as a screw mount for a tripod. It also has two leather straps across the lid below which you can carry things like a sketchbook, boards for painting, etc. The lid has a built-in stop, so it holds at a good angle for an easel. It measures 13 x 10 ½ x 1 ½ in when closed.
I love this box as is. However, I really can’t stand up to paint for very long due to back issues and so I paint sitting. I have a folding canvas chair with a fold-up side table attached.
Also, since I am not as young as I was (though fit enough), I like to pare down the equipment I need to drag along for outdoor painting. My husband John (who also paints) and I devised this strap attachment. I can now carry the box cross body along with one small shoulder tote bag for papers, water, pens, sketchbook etc, and my folding armchair. With this, I can pretty much walk anywhere to get a good view to paint.
How we customized the box
We installed heavy-duty D-Rings to the bottom part of the box at the front corners on the sides. These are the same hardware that one uses for framing to hold the picture wire. We used the type that has two screws for added security.
Be sure to make sure the screws used are not so long that they will go through the side of the box!
I found a leather cross-body shoulder strap on Amazon. It has clips on the ends to attach to the D-rings. Click here to see the strap I bought. I chose brown, so it matches the leather already on the box.
I also customized the foam insert to carry more sticks or partial sticks. I just clipped away the foam in places to accommodate what I wanted to do. The foam holds 90 Blue Earths whereas I have, currently, 146 colours.
When I am sitting, I put the strap over my neck hopefully to avoid having the open box accidentally slide off my lap! I tape my paper to the lid-easel and paint away!
Occasionally I find a place where I can put the box on a wide railing at a good height to stand, for painting, like at our beach boardwalk or other viewing places.
The other thing I added was a strap of Velcro, as a safety catch.
The clasp that is installed on the box is not the safest, it can be knocked open if one is not careful. I had some self-stick “Industrial strength Velcro” strips.
I cut two pieces of the plush part to attach to the box, then stuck some fabric on the sticky side of the hook part. When opened, I keep the green strip attached to the bottom of the box.
Filled, this set-up only weighs 4.5 lbs! And you can see the signs and labels I have on both sides, for TSA security.
Thanks, Barbara. I think it’s so cool how you customized the Dakota Art Pochade Box to work for you! I’m sure your article will inspire others to do the same.
Boldbrush’s September Outstanding Pastel
Congratulations to Hilaire Couture on her Outstanding Pastel award. Hilaire has had quite the life so I encourage you to go and read all about her!
“The history of my life informs what I do, every trial and triumph translate to the canvas… I believe painting portraits and figures give me what I have always strived for, a connection with people, to feel loved and validated. Choosing to paint people also because facial recognition is the first form of communication and somehow it might subconsciously resolve the difficult relationship I had with my mother. The intimacy that becomes through sitter to artist to viewer is a very personal bond. I think my paintings tell THEIR stories and MINE through the faces.”
And that’s it for this time!
Barbara Archer, I loved your account of how you manage your painting! ( And I love your paintings too)My late husband was also ‘John’.I used to sketch and paint outdoors too..on the beach with my husband,while our son surfed in the waves! Best regards, Stellaxxx
Thanks Stella for taking the time to comment and share something of your own art, and life, journey.