Which Pochade Box Is Good For Pastel Artists
What Is a Pochade Box?
A pochade box, is a portable artist's box. Usually, the lid lifts up to provide a small easel and the base has a compartment, or compartments for storing art materials. There is usually a handle and sometimes a shoulder carrying strap.
Most artists work with the pochade balanced on their knees, or a handy wall etc., so you may wish to take a small cushion, or one of those tiny fold-out stools, to make the process less damp and more comfortable.
The photo to the right is my basic pochade. I then add to it depending on what sort of painting I anticipate doing. I'll probably divide my pastel tins into one of darks, one of greys/blues and a few brights.
Basic Pochade Box
The pochade boxes below are fairly standard in their design. Made of wood, the easel part extends so that you can fit a sketch pad on the pochade if you don't want to use the small easel. Some have a swing out drawing surface that acts as a lid in the box, and some have a separate drawing board.
Pochades come in varying sizes, from the very small, around A4 size to heftier 2" x 1" boxes. When choosing, it's important to consider size versus weight. I like to work quite large, but there's no way I could cart all my stuff with me out in the field, so a smaller box would be fine for making reference sketches that are worked on in the studio.
Pastel sticks are reasonably heavy, and because they are quite dusty, they need to be transported in some sort of container. So your pochade needs to accommodate a couple of containers for pastels, and have some space for pastel pencils, graphites, cloths and sheets of paper, plus something to wrap the finished piece in, such as a glassine. You may also wish to take some fixative with you, although this would be quite bulky.
I tend not to take my large boxes of pastels out into the wilds, because of their bulk and weight, so decant mine into either a tin (I have a couple of 'travel-sweet' tins from a well-known producer) but you could use plastic food containers. Whatever container you use, they need to have a layer of ground rice (polenta also works) in them. This keeps the pastels clean and dust free.
I have a tin of pale pigments and blues, a tin of foliage greens/reds and a tin of darks. These cover most things that I come across in the landscape.
Pochade Boxes With Stands
There's no doubt that it can be fiddly perching in the countryside, balancing a pochade on your lap and drawing at the same time, so if weight is not an issue, then a pochade box with a stand might be the way to go. The ones to the right have aluminum stands that make them lighter and more portable, or you could take a French Easel out with you.
Personally, I find a pochade with stand a bit too heavy to take with me when I'm out walking once I'm loaded up with equipment.
There are a few essentials to pack into a pochade before you set off into the wilds. I always take a rucksack too, for water, food and waterproofs! A bin bag is also good for sitting/kneeling on damp ground.
You will not only need drawing materials, but cloths and wipes for clearing up afterwards, plus glassine to wrap your finished pieces in.
Pochade Contents for Pastel Painting
Pale pastel tin
Greens pastel tin
3 small brushes
Darks pastel tin
Bundle of Pastel pencils
Cloth for hands