Pochade Boxes




How long have you been pochade painting?

About 20 years on a regular basis.

What 1st got you into pochade painting?

Moving to a smaller house which offered no really suitable studio space.


What has been your best pochade place to paint or still life?

Probably Venice. I feel very relaxed painting there as the locals are so used to it that they pay little or no attention.

What time of the year do you prefer to paint in terms of temperature and light?

I am extremely well equipped now for painting in snow and rain so actively seek it out occasionally. I also love the Spring for the fresh colours and sharp light but part of the challenge of painting on site is to adapt to the seasons and I enjoy the variety offered by the UK climate!

What time of the day is your favourite?

Early morning in the winter or around dusk in the summer when the light is stable enough to paint for an hour or so after sundown.

What pochade boxes do you use?

I still have my original one which is a 9”x7” hand held and several that I have made myself over the years which offer larger sizes up to 16” x 20” which is the largest size that I can cope with in one session but I have recently acquired an Alla Prima Yellow River which is built for  14” x 11” and has everything built in, including an ingenious panel carrier with magnetic dividers. I used an Open Box M for five years but while it is a fine easel it takes longer to set up as it needs separate paint and brush storage. I do use a very strong tripod as I don’t like painting sitting down as I have a habit of walking backwards and forwards to check progress.


What do you keep in your pochade box colours, brushes etc?

In the Alla Prima box I carry about a dozen tubes of artist quality 40mm tubes from my favourite makes, mainly Roberson or Michael Harding plus a quick drying White as I work quite dry and hate paints which squirt oil all over the place before they offer any pigment! I like genuine turpentine but buy it by the gallon from a paint wholesaler. I don’t have any fads about limited palettes, primary, split primary, Sorn etc,  I don’t use many colours in one painting but choose a palette on site which I feel will give me what I need. I don’t use mediums as there is more than enough oil in most paints, or I guess you couldn’t squeeze it out of the tube. I detest the stickiness of polymer resins like Liquin. I also use Rosemary’s brushes (filberts 2,4,6,8 from her Chungking bristle range, a nylon rigger and an old sable #4) which I find very good and reasonably priced. One cranked handle painting knife completes the kit.

What do you prefer to paint on, canvas board, primed millboard?

I have never liked canvas much as although the springy feel is nice there is no getting away  from the mechanical weave. I prime my own MDF panels with gesso which I colour before priming with acrylic burnt sienna and French ultramarine which gives a sort of mushroom colour which can easily be pushed warmer or cooler as required. I add a bit of marble dust from a stone masons to give a bit of grip.

Who would you say is your favourite painter?

I was brought up in East Anglia and so was familiar with Edward Seago and Leonard Squirrell’s work from an early age and I admire several contemporary painters like Ken Howard and Fred Cuming but I have had the privilege of knowing and painting alongside one man for fifteen years as a colleague and friend in the Wapping Group and he has to be my favourite painter, Trevor Chamberlain.

What do you look at in a good painting more than anything?

Composition is important and it is interesting that even when looking at a whole page of tiny  thumbnails on a website that the strongest work is always standing out. Tonal and colour harmony is also very important to me.

What is your favourite size to work on (box size)?

That has got larger over the years and now I feel most at home with 10” x 12”

Have you exhibited any pochades? If so where, gallery/sites/shows?

As I don’t have a studio the only work I exhibit is Plein Air and I never touch them after leaving the site. The RA hung my Plein Air entry this year at the Summer Exhibition and I am lucky to be represented by several Galleries who accept and encourage Plein Air work. My own web site is