(New) Homemade Pochade Box

Over this winter my husband built me a new and improved pochade box! We just finished it last week. It is modeled on the shoebox pochade box that I made last summer. The sides are pine, with a plywood base and lid.

IMG_0276The lid has an overhang at the back, which was a happy accident. He made the lid too large on purpose, intending to trim it to the size of the box. While we were trying to decide on a mechanism to hold the lid open at the right angle for painting, I opened it one day and found that the remaining overhang rested on the back of the box and supported it at just the right angle!┬áLike this…IMG_0278

Inside, he put a small ledge on 3 sides, to support a palette (actually I’m resting my Masterson Sta-Wet Handy Palette on it).

The water container is a baby food jar.

Under the palette support I can fit all my supplies!


I took it on a weekend trip last weekend. Here’s what it looks like in use:


It rests on my lap very securely (we experimented quite a bit with the size and weight to achieve this). Here’s the first painting I did using it, of the Mississippi River from my hotel room. (I felt too self-conscious just yet to venture out to paint in a busy city, although I did take my watercolor supplies and sit out by a nearby lake and paint).


I’m hoping for lots more outdoor adventures with the new box this summer!



Katherine and I sat in the van for 45 minutes one day so that I could paint this. (I felt very fortunate to I find a meter that already had a lot of time left on it!). The canvas I’d taped on the inside lid of my shoebox pochade had fallen off into the paint that I’d set out on the palette, leaving blobs of color all around the canvas! I wiped off the blobs as well as I could and then was happy to find that they incorporated into the painting in just the right places!

Campus Gates


For this painting I sat in the parked van and painted from the driver’s seat with my pochade box on my lap. Katherine read her newly checked out library books in the back seat! I do not like the ‘childishness’ of much of this picture, but it was another try.

Shoebox Pochade Box

One of my goals for this summer is to learn to paint outside–en plein air. I looked into wooden pochade boxes and decided they were too expensive for an experiment, so I thought about making my own, but ran out of time. In the end I more quickly made my own version from an old shoebox. It’s working out pretty well!

I attached a ribbon to the sides and across the outside of the lid, using staples and strong glue. The ribbon stops the lid from flopping backwards (ie in an upright easel position). There is another ribbon attached to the center of the lid that wraps under the box and attaches with velcro to the bottom front of the box, which stops the lid flopping forwards.

I glued in 2 blocks of wood inside to support my palette (disposable gray paper palette taped to a piece of stiff card), leaving room on the floor of the box for brushes, paper towel, and water in a baby food jar (with lid). I could also fit tubes of paint and masking tape in here. I prefer to set up my palette before leaving home, to minimize weight.

The ‘easel’ is an old piece of stiff cardboard glued to the inside of the lid. I attach the canvas to this with masking tape.

The whole thing was made entirely from materials I had on hand and cost me nothing!