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March 28, 2013 / pleinairman

More Ideas on Transporting Wet Panels

Update:  The Panel Pak is an excellent and very similar solution.  They come in a variety of sizes and are thinner and lighter than my home-made deal.

Lately, I’ve been trying to get a leaner look to my plein air gear.  This isn’t out of vanity so much as it is out of a desire to hike into the field a little further.  With that in mind, I’ve replaced my old Victorian cast-iron tripod with a much lighter Sienna tripod that I can strap to my backpack.  I’ve also replaced my “all-in-one” pochade box in favor of a more distributed approach to the paint box.  Although the Sienna tripod can certainly hold the weight of the packed-to-the-gills “all-on-one,” the box is somewhat cumbersome to lift up onto the tripod.  So, rather than lug paint tubes, wet canvases and other knick-knacks in the pochade box, I’ve gone with the lighter Open Box M, which serves only as palette and panel holder.  Paint tubes I have moved to a separate plastic container.   For wet canvases, I have crafted a 9×12 two-panel holder that fits into the backpack with the Open Box M, paint tube box and my brush tube.  All told, my panel-holder, paint tube box and Open Box M are still lighter than the “all-in-one” box.  Now, I’m ready to hit the trail!

I wanted to share with you my two-panel holder.  It was a simple idea, and I have to credit my friend M.L. Coleman who showed me one he had made.  Basically, I bought two very cheap 9×12 frames on eBay – the moulding is flat on front – and used two wood screws to join them face-to-face.  Next, I stopped by Home Depot to get eight turnbuttons.   (Actually, my Home Depot had only “window screen clips,” but they work as well.)  I put four turnbuttons on each side.  Now, because the frames I bought have such a deep rabbet, I had to add spacers so the panels wouldn’t rattle so much.  There was no danger of the panels falling out, but I just didn’t want to hike with my backpack rattling.  Fear of attracting rattlesnakes, I guess.  So, I’m trying two different types of spacers – stacks of felt buttons on one side, and a set of small wood blocks on the other.  I’ll let you know which works best.

Now, for those of you going to the 2nd Annual Plein Air Convention & Expo in a couple of weeks, here’s a tip.  If they give you the same logo-stamped shoulder bag I got last year, you can use it to store this 9×12 two-panel holder – and it will also hold the Open Box M 10×12 panel storage unit!  Perfect size.


Leave a Comment
  1. / Mar 28 2013 6:49 pm

    Great ideas! I have and love the Open Box M. It's gotta be the best thing there is for painting en plein air. Over the months I've really enjoyed your blog and artwork. Keep it up!! It's so inspiring – seems like you are constantly getting out there, seeking beautiful places and capturing it with your brush on canvas.

  2. Scott Ruthven / Mar 28 2013 8:21 pm

    Nice setup Michael. I'm tinkering with materials for a wet panel carrier myself. Always refining! I do think the piecemeal approach is better for hiking and backpacking.

  3. violetta / Mar 29 2013 5:52 am

    I have this style of easel and I love it. When I looked at which you mentioned, the image of the easel on a tripod, has what I found out is called a tripod utility apron. What a great idea! Never thought I would care for aprons but this is good because I don't want to purchase (and carry) extra trays. All your ideas lead to better practice!

  4. Nikolai / Mar 29 2013 6:05 pm

    Four years ago I was looking for a pochade box. After some researches I ordered this painting machine:

    I have the 10×12 Bitterroot Pochade Box and you can store four 3/16″ or two 3/8″ panels completely protected in it. With the piggyback adapter you can enlarge the storage area.
    Here in Europe, it's not easy to access every potential painting area by car. So walking or cycling over longer distances is necessary.

    Happy easter

  5. Becky Joy / Apr 2 2013 5:48 am

    I also purchased the bitteroot lite last year. Love it for my light weight gear. It carries the panels, but I also made some panel carriers similar to yours in some different sizes. I used velcro to hold the panels in, but I like your idea to hold the panels in.

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