Portable Oil Painting Kit

I’m still roaming around the internet, finding blogs to follow. A few days ago I saw this post, and followed the link to the makers of the ponchard box the artist was using. I really wanted one of those cute little boxes, which are quite reasonably priced, but then postage from the UK would probably cost more than the box, especially if I wanted it to arrive earlier than three months from now (sea mail). It just happened that I had a box about that size already that I’d picked up second hand, and I was sure I could convert it using bits and pieces around the house.

Here’s the box:

Actually, it was painted a bright blue, well chipped and scraped, which was appealing in a shabby chic kind of way, except that the clasps, latch and handle had been painted, too, and that just made it look shabby. A bit of citrus paint stripper and furniture wax later and it still looks rustic, but better! Here’s the inside:


(I’d have taken ‘before’ shots, except I did most of the work at night when the light was bad, or outside where I didn’t want to stop and get the camera.)

The ponchard box lid opens at one end for access to the canvasses or boards, and grooves hold canvasses apart to protect freshly painted ones. I considered several alternatives to this, since I didn’t want to cut up the box, and wanted to keep to materials around the house and find a solution that was as simple as possible. Eventually I decided it would be better to have a spacing device that attached to the canvas or board instead of the box, to allow for different thicknesses of surface. That way I could fit four boards, three board style canvasses, or one stretched canvas in the lid. Lengths of rubber tubing split down the length was the solution:


And a bit of foam down the side of the lid to prevent them falling out when I close the box (see pic above the last one).

Instead of a slide-out palette, I just added six eyelet screws to support a particle board shelf. And I don’t intend to use that as a palette. You can get ‘disposable palettes’ at art stores which are just pads of paper cut into a palette shape. That’s always seemed a bit wasteful, but I took the idea and used a magazine cut in half instead, which fits perfectly. The art teacher I used to take lessons with always advocated not using a white palette. (The glare of the white dazzles you and reduces your colour perception.)


To close everything up, I just slide the palette and particle board shelf in under the eyelets to prevent them touching the exposed canvas or board, unhook the chain holding the lid up (so it doesn’t swing over onto the fresh paint) and close the lid.


The canvasses shown were bought from Riot. They had some close to the size of the lid. I’m also getting Paul to cut up a piece of gessoed masonite I had lying around from my illustration days into boards the right size. The lid is just over A5 in width and larger in height, so even a sketchbook would fit nicely.

I’m really happy with how this turned out. I’d like to add a shoulder strap, and I have some old belts I can recycle for it, but haven’t yet found any way to attach it that I’m satisfied will do the job securely.

In the meantime… I really have to find time to get outdoors and paint!