The term ‘Pochade’ is derived from the nineteenth century French verb Pocher meaning to sketch. The word itself, however, holds much more meaning and inspiration for it is a gateway to endless potential.
The Pochade box is normally of smallish proportions. The exact size and materials may vary, although the traditional box is wooden and must have three consistent elements. The first of these factors is a hinged lid which aptly rests at the correct angle to use as an easel. Ingeniously the dual purpose lid also serves as a storage space to safely transport the drying master pieces. The second element is a palette, which neatly rests on top of the lower section of the box. It can normally slide to one side thus revealing the third element- the storage space for the artist’s materials.
This miniature portable studio became very popular throughout the 18th and 19th century- particularly with artists such as Turner and Constables. It was a practical way of being able to seek out new places and challenges and then transfer them back to the larger canvas in their dwellings. In spite of the obvious advantages the Pochade box became shunned by artists in later generations until the mid 1980s when a Pochade revival began.
Typically Pochades are small pieces of art work created in under an hour using mediums of oil, pastel or watercolour. They have the versatility to be created in plein air, in the quest for perfect light, or inside man’s own creations. There is no need for elaborate detail or a deluge of easels and artist materials. Pochade painting is designed to be a swift facilitator of the muse. The artist sees the inspiration, opens the box, pours out his soul and closes the box- leaving him free to experience and be inspired yet again. The result is a three dimensional capture of line, colour, tone and mood.
The Pochade stands for much more than a transportation mode of convenience. It stands for freedom; freedom of mind, freedom from limits and freedom of space. It is an accessible portable way of experiencing art for what it is, how its roots began and ultimately what it will become. It is a way of capturing life as it exists at this very moment. A pocket sized postcard of the senses.
Who needs cameras?!