"NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION"
THE CREATION OF A UNIQUE POCHADE (box)
Many people call them pochade "boxes"...
but the word "pochade" is French for "box"!
In 1998 I made a 5 week trip to Ireland to do plein air paintings. I was very limited on my luggage, and I planned being on foot a lot, so I needed to simplify my art materials to a minimum, so I searched for a pochade. Since I could not find a pochade that satisfied my needs (taking up little space, handling a wet palette and wet panels, set up had to be easy, repairs possible, and painting on larger formats than the box itself)
I set out to design my own pochade, which is:
THE BILLUPS BOX
A POCHADE STYLE OIL PAINTING "EASEL"
It was NOTdesigned for water colors ... pastels ... or stretched canvas!
Storage only supports 1/8th inch thick PANELS.
THIS POCHADE HAS BEEN PERSONALLY TESTED
"The Billups Box"
Pochade / Storage unit closed
When my luggage came thru customs, and not being present during inspection, my painting back pack was opened, and the tripod removed. When they attempted to put the tripod back into the back pack, they hit my pochade so many times with the head of the tripod, and with such force, that they TOTALLY destroyed the tripod, breaking all of the plastic housing off the support steal. HOWEVER, my pochade, which should have been totaled, had only one seam separate, which I fix and repair within an hour!
Unlike wood pochades, which once they are broken, seldom can be repaired, this pochade is made of a "space age plastic", that is easily repaired with industrial acetone (not
what you purchase at a regular store). My pochade has fallen off the back of golf carts (while painting with PAPA on Catalina Island from the end of the '80s to mid '90s), it has flown across fields, when the tripod head broke off...and NOT ONCE was the surface ever split, chipped or cracked!! The only problem I have ever had (in a dozen+ years) is that one separated seam!!! Which was repaired in 5 minutes!
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The Pochade opened
EACH BOX IS CAREFULLY CONSTRUCTED ENTIRELY BY HAND
Since 1998, I have used my initial prototype pochade, solely, and have created over 900 plein air paintings, ranging from 5x8 to 18x24 (held in place with a small clamp).
THE THREE LARGEST PROBLEMS
WITH PLEIN AIR PAINTING:
1. BROKEN EQUIPMENT
2. WET PALETTES
3. WET PAINTINGS
4. Setting up quickly (with this pochade, maybe 3 minutes!)
Unlike wood pochades (which seldom can be repaired),
THIS pochade can be repaired easily by the artist,
(using specially ordered "acetone" and applicator)
should it get damaged (which seldom happens).
It is twice the size of the pochade!
••The reason I use strapping tape to
"hinge" the two sections of the palette together is:
1. it is leak proof
2. can be easily changed when worn out
3. a plastic hinge would clog up after just a few uses
4. Needs no professional repairs.
••The reason for the velcro attachments on bottom:
1. again, easy to replace when worn out
••The reason for the "fence"on palette:
1. To hold extra paint between locations, thus
not HAVING to put new paint out each time.
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THE 8X10 POCHADE showing
storage and setup for painting
In the year 2007 Barry John Raybould commissioned me to create a pochade for him, using special requests for his particular needs.
Here is a shot of the pochade with the open palette, which folds in half to store in the top of the box. There is a small "fence" around the area that you put your oil paint, so that when the palette is closed, the paint is protected from being squished!!
The space below, has storage to hold 7 or 8 wet panels.
I use "door skins", which are 7x4 foot panels (used to repair hollow core doors, you can purchase from most lumber companies) Be sure to get BIRCH door skins, because they have NO knotholes.
I gesso the entire section three times, once on the back (to keep from warping). Then cut them up to 8x10, 12x16 and 16x20 sections.
For my turp, I put two S hooks into the side of a small tuna can...and hook it over the door flap. As shown, the clamp can be used to secure any size panel to the lid, so the wind doesn't toss it off. As mentioned, I've done up to 16x20 paintings, using this method.
This pochade is NOT designed
to be used with STRETCHED canvas!
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
The larger panels (up to 18x24)
(shown here with 12x16 panel)
are held in place with
a small hand clamp
(included with each Pochade)
Glacier National Park
I was invited by Glacier National Park, to be one of their Artist in Residence, which was a wonderful experience of having two weeks to paint the park, being given a cabin on the lake. My painting days ran from sunrise, around 6 a.m. until dark, or 11p.m.
During this time I had days of heavy winds (up to 40 m.p.h.), at which times I counter weighted my tripod with my bag of paints, turp can, etc. (that is, hanging them suspended below my tripod, inches OFF the ground). With creating over 35 paintings, not once did my set up blow over!
I've worked on panels as small as 8x5, 8x10, 12x16 and up to 18x24 on location.
16x20 DRYING BOX & PALETTE
Shown w/ guitar strap
Comes w/ handle, shown with next image
Holds 5 wet 16x20 panels
and 16x20 palette (included).
16x20 DRY BOX & PALETTE
Holds 5 wet 16 x 20 x1/8 panels.
The palette is stored in the Dry Box, and slides in the same way as the wet panels, and faces toward the interior panel. The outside panel is "open" to keep the interior clean from paint that might drop off. There's also vertical spacers, which keeps the paint from being smashed!
16x20 DRY BOX W/O PALETTE
16x20 WET PANEL BOX
SHOWN W/ HANDLE
Holds 8 wet panels up to 1/4" thick
Holds 8 wet 16 x 20 x 1/8 inch panels.
AS WITH ALL OF THESE PRODUCTS, AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE: ALTHOUGH THEY ARE REPAIRABLE, DON'T ABUSE IT TO BEGIN WITH!
LETTERS FROM PATRONS
I am still using your "Billups Box" with great pleasure. It has lasted well over the years,BR. since I purchased it, in 1999, and has even held up well now that we are living on the boat. It's my favorite easel.
Artist/Instructor from Florida
I took the box to Mexico and found it compact and easy.
Artist/Instructor from Arizona
I just received my Billups box and wanted to let you know that it's PERFECT! I'm wild about it.
It really is the best designed painting equipment I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot). No more splinters, struggles or heavy luggage. Thanks so much for this unique, wonderful product. I'm sure it will help my painting just because I won't be fighting with equipment! Regards, Mona Vivar January 2005
Just to let you know - I am still using your "Billups Box" with great pleasure. It has lasted well over three years and has even held up well now that we are living on the boat. It's my favorite easel. (East Coast Artist)
It's beautiful. I'm just back from a jaunt (to Scandinavia) myself ... Meanwhile, I shared a look at the box and your catalogue with a couple of painting friends in Sonoma, who raved about your landscapes. Nothing could be more inspirational an initiation. So thank you for both....Berkeley CA Plein Air painter
Your dryboxes help simplify my equipment. I frequently carry 16x20 panels
because they can be used as 4 - 8X10's, 12x20's, 16x16's etc...
The dry box is light, compact, sturdy, and fits in my suitcase.
They are a wonderful product! Jim Bickford, N.C.