Vintage Winsor and Newton artist’s case

As well as my passion for painting in watercolour, I also greatly enjoy the associated paraphernalia – the brushes, paints and palettes etc – and over the years, have amassed quite a collection!

I was delighted to be able to add to this collection in the form of a vintage Winsor and Newton aluminium artist’s case. I won this on e-bay back in early January – excusing it as a birthday treat to myself – but felt a little embarrassed about it. I have on occasion seen similar cases on ebay but this was the first time that I’ve actively bid on one. My embarrassment is, that as much as I like all this ‘stuff’, I don’t collect for the sake of collecting. I only buy something if I think I’m going to be able to make use of it. With this particular purchase, I only had the seed of an idea, but I needed to buy it first and spend some time germinating that seed of an idea. Only now do I feel sufficiently well advanced in my thinking to be able to share my plans.

For now though, back to the case. It measures 415mm x 315mm x 80mm, is made entirely out of aluminium and is in good used condition. I’ve had a flutter around the web to see if I can find out anything about these cases but haven’t found anything yet. If anyone out there does have information about it, I’d be really grateful if you could share it with me as, at the moment, I’m struggling to even hazard a guess at its age. What I do know is that it’s in the style of a pochade box and originally for oil painters. The grooves in the side and the hinged lid were to allow the painter to transport, in this particular case, up to three paintings with their freshly painted surfaces kept safe from contact.

Hopefully the pictures and captions below will give a good overall impression.

I photographed this on my workbench as, after much mulling over and deliberating, I’ve finally started work on my cunning plan.

Working more on location is probably the most obvious means to significantly improve my painting. With so many other commitments, however, this isn’t something that’s going to change rapidly. Even so, every year I aspire to paint a little more on location. A few years ago, I did fashion myself a set up that I’ve been working with that featured a homemade wooden case that could carry quarter sheets of paper and act as my painting board. I then supplemented this with a little shelf that could also easily be clipped onto my tripod. This has served me well but, in looking at other set ups on the market, I have become aware of certain drawbacks and limitations. The shelf is okay to put things on so they’re close-ish to hand, but nowhere near convenient or secure enough to be able to rest my palette on while I’m mixing and painting. I also still have to carry everything else (palette, tubes of paints, brushes etc) in another bag too. Here’s quick slideshow as a reminder:

(and, in case this slideshow doesn’t appear for you, here’s a link to the post about my plein-air set up)

All of these are relatively minor things but, if I could find a solution to them, well who knows what a difference it might make!?

Enter my new / old aluminium case.

My cunning plan, such as it is, is to convert this case into my new plain-air kit. My aim is to make some relatively minor modifications to this case so that I can:

  • attach it to tripod
  • attach a shelf that will allow me to have palette and water close to hand
  • enable me to paint both landscape and portrait
  • allow me to carry painting board, shelf, spare paper, brushes, paints and all other likely stuff (sponge, spray etc)

I’ll still need to carry a tripod separately (not to mention a bag for water, drinks and the all-important snacks and sandwiches!) but I’m still hoping it will be a significant improvement on my current set up.

I’m excited to have started tinkering on this project and hope to be able to share the fruits of my labour shortly.

If anyone else has a great plein-air set up, I’d love to hear about it – it’s still not too late for me to modify my plans!

Thoughts on Vintage Winsor and Newton artist’s case

10 thoughts on “Vintage Winsor and Newton artist’s case”

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

  2. Regina Roseman Tune

    James Gurney blog – he has alot of info about plein air watercolor /guache set up that he uses – I work pastel outside so my set up is for that.

    1. Hi Regina and many thanks for the reminder about James Gurney’s blog! I have come across that site in the past but couldn’t remember the name of it until you reminded me! Much appreciated – it might be a helpful source of ideas and inspiration!

  3. Pingback: La Placa Reial Watercolour Paintings –

    1. Thanks Evelyn – though I’m already feeling the pressure of the ‘genius’! Naturally I’ll be sharing the results here soon!

  4. “Plein air”!! Isn’t this post a tad inappropriate given the weather! How about something on the best antifreeze to use in your water?

    1. Haha – yes Rob – fear not there’ll be no plein air today, or for a while I expect! This is a rare example of me planning ahead for sunnier days!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

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