Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Keeping oil paint usable for the Pochade Box.

This is an update on the Pochade Box I made last year and how I keep paint on the palette.

The box after six months use
So far I haven’t found any reason to make modifications to the box apart from drilling four small holes, one in each corner to let the rain out!

One thing I have made is a second palette. I can now have two palettes set with paint.

Usually one for landscapes and one for portraits I like to experiment with different colour palettes. I designed the box with a slide out palette, so as soon as I finish painting for the day I put the palette in the freezer.
That way the paint stays usable for days, and with some pigments for weeks. Oil paint dries by a chemical reaction, the oil oxidizes, that is it reacts with oxygen in the air which causes it to polymerise. This reaction can be slowed down by cooling the paint.

I’ve made a wooden block with two groves in it to keep the two palettes separated.

First palette set in the block

The two palettes showing the separation
They then get put into a plastic bag before going in the freezer.

Ready for the freezer

Getting ready for spring.


Susan said...

Really ingenious! The two palette idea is brilliant and I will try putting my paint in the freezer. I sometimes cover my palette at night with waxed paper to slow down oxidation. Thanks so much for the ideas!

Journeyman said...

Glad you found the idea useful Susan, I’d been searching around for some time for a plastic container to fit the palette but couldn’t find anything suitable, so came up with this idea.


José Carrilho (Go Detail) said...

Hi Dave,

Quite simple and effective.
You've got a good painting there!

Take care,


Journeyman said...

Hi Jose, Only now noticed your comment, sorry to not reply before, glad you liked the box..

Cheers, Dave

KO said...


Good idea about the extra palette and palette holder. I have a similar box, I'm thinking of maybe wiping the palette with a light coat of walnut oil, might help keep the paint (oil in paint) from soaking in the wood a bit.?
Saw your primaries+white entry at Wet Canvas, really like your painting, appreciate the accompanying photos. I've been away from painting for a long time, plan to submit at least a landscape for that challenge.

Best Regards,

Journeyman said...

Hi Kerry,
Glad to hear you are back painting, look forward to seeing your work.

Yes you need to treat a new palette with a drying oil to prevent it absorbing oil and pigment. Boiled Linseed Oil, the sort you get in the hardware store is the best as it dries quickly, but if you have the time to wait raw linseed oil will do. Walnut oil is a slow drier that’s why some manufacturers turn it into an Alkyd. Walnut oil will do the job just depends on what oil you have as to how long it takes to dry.
If you are using Earth colours and Cads you don’t need to wait till the palette is fully cured before using but you will find that some modern colours based on dyes will stain the wood, beware of Alizarin and Phthalo colours. Once you have been using the palette for a while the Dyes and Lakes will not stain just when it’s new.

Cheers for now, Dave

Jo Castillo said...

Clever on the palette and the painting is beautiful!

Journeyman said...

Hi Jo, recognise your name from the Savager Hunt they are a very friendly group :)

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