Friday, September 10, 2010

5x7 PocketBox from Judson's

"Bridge to the Dunes" 5x7, oil

As many of you know, I paint a lot of 5x7 sketches. Typically, I drag out my 9x12 Guerrilla Painter Box and a few Art Cocoons configured for 5x7 panels. But recently, I acquired one of the new 5x7 PocketBoxes from Judson's Art Outfitters. I took it out today for a test drive.

A good, soaking rain started last night, and it just didn't want to quit. If I need to paint on a rainy day, I do small sketches. It's no good starting an 18x24 masterpiece only to get chilled by the rain and to have to call it a day. So, I headed for a big picnic shelter down by the beach with a handful of panels and my PocketBox.

I did three 5x7s - two with the box in my lap or on a picnic table, and one while actually holding the box in my hand. It's a very light box - it only weighs a pound - so I found it much easier to hold up than the heavier 6x8 ThumBox. (Yeah, I know, I should lift weights more often.) I usually spend about 30 minutes on a 5x7. I held up that box for a full half-hour, and I didn't get tired.

Although my box came with an optional, hinged palette extension, I stripped down my usual colors to the three primaries plus white and black. I had plenty of room on the main palette for these. Also, to keep the box light, I didn't store my paint tubes in the box. Because I chose to use water-miscible oils, I packed in a Mighty Mite Jr. brush washer topped off with water. It fits right inside the box. Finally, I used just two flats, a #4 and a #2. When you put it all together, it's a very portable box. I easily stuffed all of this in a small daypack with room to spare.

I started the day by painting with the box on the picnic table, but I found that without a bit of weight, the box was tippy. I added a 150ml tube of white, and that did the trick. Before going into "thumb mode," I took out the tube to lighten things. The palette extension, by the way, is drilled with holes that you can stick your brushes in. I just laid mine down on the table or held them in my free fingers. But if you don't have a table and don't want to hold the brushes, the holes are a good solution.

One thing I do with my 9x12 box that I can't with the 5x7 is hang a roll of paper towels off of it. But for the portability and freedom of the PocketBox, I can live with such a compromise!

(Below are some photos of the PocketBox. Above is one of the paintings I did today.)


Max West said...

That looks like a neat little setup you got there. Oil paints aren't my cup of tea though; they take forever to dry. I prefer watermedia and for outdoors, I stick to just doing drawings with graphite.

Well, keep up the painting. You've definitely got a good thing going there.

Jo Castillo said...

This looks like a great set up. Thanks. And good luck with the studio tour. :)

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Max and Jo!

Brenda Boylan said...

Now that is some nifty little set up. Love the limited palette and what you made of it!

Scott Ruthven said...


I like the 5x7" format too...especially painting en plein air. One of these days I'm going to buy one of these PocketBoxes from Judson's. They are really well built yet still light. Judson's is based in my town of Fort Collins, Colorado so I like to give them the business!