The Guerrilla Painters pochade* box was designed and tested by Carl Judson whose been a painter for over 30 years. If you’re considering building your own box to save money, don’t bother. Just get the Guerilla Painters Box and save yourself the time and aggravation.
This box is well made with high quality parts and the overall design is excellent. The one I bought is the 8×10 Cigar Box version 2. It only weighs 2 lbs and the overall dimensions are 11″ x 9″ x 3″. It’s made from a basswood laminate. They also make a 9×12 box and a few other sizes. The 9×12 box is larger and has a deeper storage compartment.
The Palette and Storage Compartment
There’s a thin plywood tray that serves as a palette and a lit to the storage compartment. It slides out to the left and you can remove it completely.
The storage area underneath the lid is 1.5″ deep which is enough room for a few of your favorite paint brushes, tubes of paint, and other art supplies.
I use acrylics so I don’t squeeze my paints out directly on the palette because I don’t want them to dry on it. I either tape a sheet of palette paper on top of the tray or use the Masterson Handy Palette.
If you’re not familiar with wet palettes then you may want to read my post about how a wet palette works. The Handy Palette fits right on top of the wood palette. I recommend using it when painting outside with acrylics so they stay wet. Oil paints will probably wipe off the without much effort, as long as you don’t allow them to dry.
The canvas or wood panel is held in place by four metal clips, which prevents your painting from falling over. There are four clips total; two clips on the sides and two on the bottom.
You can secure the lid at any angle by tightening the knob on the right. It adjusts to any angle, up to 180 degrees. The aluminum arm is lightweight and yet thick and sturdy.
There’s a small screw in the left side of the palette that keeps it from sliding out when it’s closed. The top part of the lid has a small hole that the screw head fits into when the the lid is closed. The screw head can be seen in the photo above.
Attaching the Guerrilla Painters Box to a Tripod
There’s a metal plate on the bottom of the box that accepts the standard bolt found on tripod plates. Once you attach the plate, the box attaches to the tripod in the same way you would attach a camera.
Open the quick release lever on the tripod and insert the tripod plate into the tripod head, and then release the lever to secure it. Once it’s secure, you can use all of the tripod adjustments to level or tilt it as necessary.
The lid can open all the way to about 180 degrees, or maybe a few degrees beyond that. You can also use the adjustments on the tripod to tilt the entire box to any angle.
Table Top Use
There are four rubber feet on the bottom of the box that will keep it from sliding around when you use it for painting at a table. They also prevent it from wobbling on an uneven surface. The photo of the bottom of the box shows what the feet look like. It’s at the top of this post.
You can also prop the box up on something taller like a stone wall and paint standing up without a tripod.
Opening and Closing the Box
There are two leather straps with buttons that secure the lid when closed. The straps are strong enough by themselves to secure the lid on their own. However, I often tighten the knob as an added insurance policy.
You may have noticed that the palette doesn’t extend all the way to the right side of the box. There’s a gap of about 1/4″. This is intentional, there are a variety of accessories that you can hang from the edge of the box. The gap allows you to hang a hook off the right side of the box. You can then hang accessories, such as a solvent container, from the hook.
There’s a double cup for solvents that clips to the palette. These are useful for oil painters because you can store mediums in them and not worry about knocking them over.
I use the Guerrilla Painters box for painting with acrylics, gouache, and watercolors. Of course it will work well with oils too. I purchased it in the Spring of 2016 and I’ve been using it ever since. I like having storing a small set of paints and brushes inside so I can just grab the box and go paint outside.
The box is very well made and I expect I will be enjoying it for years to come.
*In case you’re wondering, “pochade” comes from the French word “poche” which translates to “pocket.” So a “pochade box” loosely translates to “pocket box.” And “plein aire” is French for “open air” which simply means “painting outside.”