I own a pochade. I use it all the time. Inside and outside. Traveling and in the cellar, everywhere. It’s designed to be used out and about, and it does great at that. Don’t let this make you neglect using it at home though.
After all, a drawing board is useful at home, so is an easel. It follows then, that a pochade is too. What’s a pochade? It’s a box, and in French it means pocket, generally made of wood and combining storage, and support holder. That’s pretty much it. Some, like the Guerilla Painter Pocket Box do more than hold your support but also allow you to safely carry one or more painted supports. In this case two panels back to back slide into the lid.
It closes up real small and holds plenty inside. I keep a set of watercolors with a built in water bottle, a brush/pen wrap, my Rapesco Supaclip, and an eraser in there. Along with either six sheets of paper clipped to three supports or two gessoed canvas panels. If I’m working in acrylic then the watercolor pallet is swapped out for a lidded silicone pallet loaded up with primary colors.
There’s a standard quarter twenty tripod socket on the bottom which with all the tripods I own is something I’d have put on myself if it didn’t. There’s also four rubber feet so if you got a table you can go that way or use it laptop style.
I know what you’re thinking and yeah, it’s a big thing to carry around compared to a sketchbook and a pocket sized pallet. But I don’t like a sketchbook. I have a habit, if someone approaches me when something’s nearly finished, if they say anything nice, I give them the painting. That’s not really possible with sketchbook bound works.
The lid of the box is adjustable at any angle from closed to horizontal and locks down pretty securely. Not so securely that you’ll want to lean your hand on the canvas or paper, but not so lightly that you can’t a bit if you must. All the hardware is stainless steel or aluminum which looks nice and means no rusting. The adjustment knob is large and plastic but has inset metal threads so there’s no fear of stripping them.
I’ve only got two small gripes and even they are pretty minor. First, the hardware for the feet stick up into the box a bit. That makes them very sturdy but it also means anything knocking around loose in the box is going to get banged up. I overcome that by keeping my pens and brushes in a case that’s bulky enough to fill the space.
My other complaint, and again it’s a minor one, is that the tripod mount is raises from the surface of the wooden bottom. Again, I’m sure this is a concession to strength. Unfortunately, it means you either can’t leave a quick release plate installed if your want to use it on a table or you’ll need to search out a very low-profile plate like this one.
At the tiny five by seven size I went with you can only work on five by seven or seven by something supports, right? Not so! Guerilla Painter sells an easel that fits in the box and serves both as a standoff and adapter. That means you can work smaller, with portrait format, or with supports of almost any width and up to about nine inches tall.
Even more than that, in an advancement of design from an earlier version, you can work wider right off the bat, if perhaps a bit less securely. The bottom canvas holders are shaped like little “W’s”. One valley of the “W” is the main canvas holders and works in conjunction with the four “U” shaped holders in the lid to hold the canvas secure. The other valley of the “W” let’s you work on a support that will rest outside the lid using the outside of the “U’s” as rear holders. This is quite insecure, but means you can work nine by twelve or seven by fourteen in a pinch.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the Pocket Box by Guerilla Painter. It’s freed me up to work just about anywhere. In fact it’s made me seriously consider going to court and painting people. We’ll see if I ever try that!