By popular demand…

…well I say popular, but that may be over-egging it. To be more precise, since my post where to begin with so many firsts which featured my new homemade painting board come paper carrier, I’ve had a few people express their interest in this item. Most recently I’ve been contacted by Helen to see whether I can provide some details about how this was made, in the hope that her husband can rustle something similar up for her own painting expeditions. It is this most recent request that has prompted this post. So on reflection, this post could be more accurately titled, ‘Because Helen asked me’?)

As I think is the case with so many inventions, it was born out of a necessity. How to carry paper safely when painting plein air with the minimum of baggage? I was already using a camera tripod, onto which I’d cobbled together part of an old wooden easel that could take a drawing board, but I wasn’t finding this particularly satisfactory and it didn’t help with my ‘how do I carry the paper?’ dilemma.

I’d long been an admirer of the small pochade boxes that are available to oil painters, many of which include some grooves that can accommodate small panels for painting on and keep them safely apart. This seemed like an eminently sensible approach and one that I thought could be adapted for my own purposes. So, here’re some images of my board that will hopefully show how it was made more succinctly that I’m able to do with words.

To make this (or something similar) you’ll need:

a small sheet of 6mm ply (enough to do 3 pieces approx 425mm 335mm) – (if in doubt I’d err slightly on side of caution and go a fraction larger, only means you’ll have a bit more room for your paper to move around), wood baton (24mm x 15mm baton, about 1110mm long), wood glue/pva, screws, screwdriver, woodfiller, sanding paper, Ken Bromley’s camera tripod mount, Danish oil or similar, some patience, and a healthy number of expletives for when any of it goes wrong.

Just as a reminder, this board carries quarter imperial paper. I used a double layer of ply on the top side of the board for strength, but this could have been overkill, you could probably get by with only a single thickness. For the ultra weight conscious, you could also get by with many fewer screws. And a different handle… it all adds up!

The back of the board showing the covered screws, tripod attachment and Ken Bromley mount bracket
Close up of the tripod mount and the Ken Bromley mount bracket along glued and screwed through another 6mm square of ply for strength and so screws don’t go through to the inside where they could damage the paper.
Detail of where I notched the baton and screwed in an old hook to hang my water carrier on. This view also shows that there are two pieces of 6mm ply on the top, and one piece of 6mm ply on the rear.
The water carrier hook in context
Detail showing the top of the board. The round dots show where the screws were countersunk, filled and then sanded back. The handle is a cheap cast metal handle one available from all ironmongers.
Another view of the handle looking towards where the ‘open end’ of the board is with the sliding cover slightly open.
Close up of the sliding cover slightly open. Just a few bits of ply stuck on top of each other so it’s easier to get my thumb onto it and slide it open.
View of the open end of the board showing sheets of paper stored inside.
a little hard to see but this is the open end of the board. I used 6mm strips of ply to create a tongue and groove channel
More bits of 6mm ply glued and screwed to create the tongue and groove sliding cover and the extra bits on the end for the thumb
Haha – four layers of 6mm ply – what a bodge job!

As I was photographing the board, and the sun was shining, it also seemed opportune to photograph the rest of my plein air kit:

The full kit. The board, with a bungee to strap the easel shelf to it and the tripod bag
Board, shelf, bungee, tripod bag
Inside the tripod bag: large brush holder, (shown open). In the bag from the top, palette, expanding water container, roll of tape, tripod.
All is revealed…
Tripod and shelf (a 6mm piece of mdf cut to size and shape and sealed with Danish Oil
Shelf fixed to tripod with two bulldog clips
Board and shelf in position
And from a slightly different angle.
Board, shelf, water carrier, palette, brushes – ready to go!
The Barry Herniman Cloverleaf box, with removable paint wells that makes cleaning really easy.
With paint wells in place (see also the angles near the thumb hold and the diagonally opposite corner – I cut these off to make holding it more comfortable.
In the hand, fits like a glove

Well –  hope this hasn’t been too dull a post and I hope that this may inspire other similar DIY projects. If it does, please let me know, I’d love to see them. Similarly, if you have any suggestions for how this could be improved or modified, do let me know. As an irrepressible fidget, I doubt this will be the last one of these I make. If you have any queries about any of this kit and caboodle, just drop me a note in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer any doubts or concerns.

So finally, a quick slide show to show how easy this all is to unpack and set up.

Look forward to being back with a painting or two next week all being well!

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Thoughts on By popular demand…

16 thoughts on “By popular demand…”

    1. Thanks Charlie – hoping I’ll be able to put this kit through its paces in July as part of the World Watercolour Month!

        1. Ah yes – I’m struggling a little with my Facebook presence! I’ll follow but it probably won’t show up as my Brusheswithwatercolour page! Finding Facebook far too complicated 😬

          1. Honestly, I’m not very active on my personal page, but Facebook groups are cool in that people can post as they go in a more controlled setting and interact. So yeah, I think you do have to sign up as you and not your page.

  1. Thank you John for this post because I was thinking just today while I was at the hardware store, that I need to see about getting my husband to make me a watercolor set-up. This will come in handy.

    1. Thanks so much Brushparkwatercolors that’s much appreciated- and thanks too for being one of the first visitors to my new ‘theme’! I’ve changed from ‘blask’ to ‘rebalance’ and am still getting used to it. What theme are you using? I just signed up to follow you and really like how your site’s presented!

        1. Thanks! I really liked being confronted with a solid wall of images when I visited your site – its very powerful and confident!

  2. Pingback: First plein-air watercolour of 2018 –

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