Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paintbox Fix

I've been using a Gloucester style easel for about a year and a half. I originally bought the Beauport easel. The easel is cheaply made in China and imported and sold through online art suppliers. It appears to be a copy of the Take It Easel, which was out of production at the time I bought it. The Beauport is almost unusable out of the box unless you know how to fix it. An artist from Maine, Dan Corey, posted on a forum how to fix the Beauport to make it useable.

After buying the Beauport I put together a paintbox to go with it. I built it in about 2 hours from wood I had laying around and hardware I bought at the store. It worked pretty good but I soon realized I had nowhere to put a wet canvas or panel to haul back to my vehicle after a painting session. Below is a pic of the first time I used both the box and the Beauport. As you can see, the box opened flat for painting purposes at this point.

It didn't take long to improvise a fix for the panel carrier. I scavanged a canvas holder off an old French easel and attached to the top outside of the box.

Notice in the picture above, how the bottom of the holder is very wide. This turned out to be a problem with which I've lived for quite a few months until today. What would happen with the improved box is that when opened, the long, bottom holder would hit the twin support bars of the easel and keep the lid from laying flat. In fact, the top lid was at an angle, unsupported at the end, making it pretty unstable to rest on the support bars. My fix to that was to leave the lid in an upright position, resting against the back leg of the easel, with a bungee cord attached to keep the lid from slamming shut. While this was an okay fix, it left me without the use of the inside of the lid of the paintbox. I would still like the box to open flat while retaining the ability to hold canvas or panels. See the pic below for the lid in the upraised position.

I recently bought the Take It Easel which is now back in production. I cannot stress how much an improvement this easel is over the Beauport. It is the Cadillac of outdoor easels. Beautifully made, extremely strong and sturdy, and very easy to set up and break down. I can paint a small 8" x 10" or as big as a 30" x 40" by simply changing the peg positions. I've been painting lots of 16" x 20", 18" x 24", and 24" x 36" paintings with it recently. Love it. Can you tell?

But I still had the frustrating problem of the box not laying flat. After speaking briefly to Stapleton Kearns, and looking at his paintbox on his blog, I had an idea to simply cut the bottom canvas holder down in size. This morning I brought out the handsaw and cut it down. Now, when opened on the support bars, the shorter bottom holder fits easily between the supports, and it lays open to the point that the upper holder lays against the support bar at the back leg. Making it essentially flat, just a very slight incline that is sturdy and flat enough to hold supplies and drinks. Below is a photo of the new, improved paintbox. The box itself is not pretty, but it does get the job done.

Make sure to check out the links in this post to Take It Easel's website, Dan Corey's blog and to Stape's blog.

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