I'm not sure when the illness began but it has taken some time to reach remission. There were a few relapses along the way. Usually when I was trolling other artists' websites and I'd spy one I hadn't seen before. Or maybe one of those unusual home made jobs. What the heck am I referring to? The bane of many a plein air painter. Of course I'm talking about "Pochade Box Addiction." Those of you reading this know who you are.
I started out with a typical french easel. A sensible, tried and true choice. And less expensive than that Jim Wilcox, space age Soltek. But it didn't take long before I grew impatient with all the wing nuts and unfolding. Not to mention the weight.
So, I sprung for one of those cool Open Box M spring loaded pochade boxes, with the walnut carrying case. That should have been the end of it, but sadly, I was just beginning. I thought the wing nut stay on the side of the Open Box M was a bit clunky. Also, it tended to catch on things in my backpack when I didn't use the outer walnut case.
Around that time I discovered Artwork Essentials and bought one of their pochade boxes. I liked the locking hinges and vertical spring holder for panels. I got plexiglass cut to fit inside my boxes too, for easier mixing of my paints. Things were progressing when one day I thought it'd be nice to have all the paints, turps, brushes in one place. This lead to taking a second look at the Guerrilla Boxes. Specifically the 9x12. I also picked up the slide in panel holder for versatility.
Attending a few workshops opened my eyes to all sorts of other pochade boxes. I began designing some of my own. A few were inspired by the unique set up Thomas Kinkade, of all people, used. He simply "clipped" his paint boards on the side of his pochade box. I found this method versatile and quick for painting all sizes of canvas panels.
Then one day the Internet landed me on Ben Haggett's "Alla Prima Pochade" website. He was still perfecting his boxes and I emailed him with some ideas. All told I think I bought three different sized boxes from him. And there were others, but I think you are beginning to see the problem. In my unending quest to find the perfect paint box I was spending less time doing the more important thing, which is painting. It took a long time for me to figure out that " It's Not About The Pochade Box."
Don't get me wrong, equipment does matter. Artists should work with quality equipment, but it's easy to get carried away with this. Part of the problem is that we are such an easily influenced lot. If Morgan Weistling is using Rosemary brushes, then gosh I should too! Kevin Macpherson endorses the Prochade easel, well that's good enough for me. And so it goes.
I finally started to spend less time fretting over the best box and simply started painting more. At first it was a struggle. Especially when I was gearing up for a road trip. "Which pochade box to take," I'd think to myself. I'd pack, unpack, repack. My wife would cross her arms and admonish me to pick one and be done.
There is no perfect pochade box. They are all different and have their pros and cons. I now lean toward light weight kits, and prefer compartmentalizing everything into a Kelty backpack. Less really is more. So learn from me, a recovering pochade box addict. They are all cool in their own way, but the point is to hone your craft and paint regularly. The sooner you settle into a kit that works for you, the better off you'll be!