Hi Ben - I'm really enjoying the Belly River. It's really perfect for doing small plein air pieces. I tried out the piggy back this afternoon, and took a few shots of my setup. The magnets are really handy for holding palette knives! I discovered it by accident when I was using a knife pretty close to the bottom support that holds the panel. I was about to lay in a small, straight line and the bracket grabbed the knife. Since then I just hang my palette knife from the magnets on the little door that folds down in front. Real handy.
-Al(Note from Ben: Oops, watch out for that when painting near the bottom panel holder ledge, knife people! Note Al's smart setup with pack hanging from center column of tripod, adding stability.)
Just call Ben Magneto, because he is a magnet genius! What he does with magnets is incredible and incredibly useful. These boxes are so well designed and so easy to use. There are no wingnuts to adjust, no clumsy bolts sticking out that will rip your pack. I just received the Bitterroot Lite, and it is a dream. It is lightweight and holds two panels, great for a hike up to a high mountain lake. Simply put, these are the best pochades out there today! Great prices too.
(Note from Ben: Josh's website. Check it out. Right away. Really.)
"I have just purchased a Bitteroot Pochade. Ben customized it for me to meet my needs. Having something that is quick and dependable outside, especially when it's cold is a must! The Bitteroot is an excellent system that allows me to store what I need for the day right inside and keep it safe. Then I can just throw it in the backpack and not worry about a thing."
-Todd Lachance- Canadian Plein Air Painter
(Note from Ben: If you like Tom Thomson, check out Todd!)
I just returned from a week-long painting trip out on the east coast using my new Belly River, and it performed flawlessly! Nice and compact for easy carrying and a breeze to set up and take down. Panels snap into the panel holder very securely yet are quick and easy to move around and remove. What a pleasure it was to paint without having to manouver around panel clips! Being able to clip the panel in up higher helped keep my shirtsleeves out of the paint too. Having four panels in the lid even pushed me to paint that extra panel every day. The sunclips came in very handy and, with some judicious easel placement, worked to keep both the painting panel and palette area shaded. If the sun started to creep in, it was very easy to tilt the panel holder back or forward - no messing around with pesky wing nuts or knurled knobs.
I carried a couple of 8x10 panels in the piggyback along with my 6x8's and found that the larger panel worked even better in the sunclips. Having both 6x8 and 8x10 panels in the lid proved a nice option when deciding what size panel to use while on site. In the past I've always carried a mini tool kit for tightening screws and making makeshift repairs to equipment, but the Belly River is so robust I never even unpacked the tools on this trip. Judging by the envious looks of my fellow painters, I think I had the best looking box as well! Thanks again, Ben, for coming up with a great design and for so meticulously making such a well crafted pochade.
We just returned from six weeks of painting in Italy and France and I loved using your box the whole time. Definitely the best engineered and simple to set up I've seen. I especially loved the pressure hinge that allows you to adjust the tilt of the painting simply by pushing or pulling it without any additional nuts to adjust.
Scott Burdick (-:
(Note from Ben: If you're not familiar with Scott and Susan's work you probably should take a good look.)
My painting buddy Karen recently received her Bitterroot box and we were both thrilled with the beauty of the design and the quality of the execution--literally can't imagine a better pochade box--puts all others in the shade. I placed my own order immediately & can't wait for my pochade to arrive. Thinking seriously about ordering a Belly River just for the fun of it.
As a new painter, I'm finding the pochade has really helped me develop. It encourages me to paint small panels, instead of being overly ambitious and having a canvas on my easel for weeks or months. I find I can learn more by painting a few smaller panels a week than painting one larger canvas over the course of a month or two. The Bitterroot is easy to set up, easy to pack up, so now I can paint whenever the spirit moves me.
I'm looking forward to taking it out into the snow this winter and then with me on a trip to Europe this spring. I'd also explain that for me this pochade settled the perennial debate of pochades vs. French easels. Your designs have the nice features that first drew me to a French easel -- the all-in-one nature, easy access to supplies, generous working area -- without all of the weight and, sad to say, the poor workmanship that goes into so many French easels today. After I realized that I don't need to paint large canvases en plein air -- I don't really have the time (I have a young son) or the need (I don't see myself as the second coming of Emile Gruppe) -- then it became clear that one of your pochades was the one for me. I've shown the box to a couple of friends. My art buddy loved it, saying it was about the coolest thing since paint. A friend who is a woodworker loved the design and craftsmanship.
Well, I took the box yesterday to my workshop and showed it to my students. THEY ALL LOVED IT! I am hoping you will get more orders. Everybody loved the build of it and especially the magnets! Hoping to use it this weekend while I paint some models in a Rose Garden.
Anyway, just wanted to let you know. I will post a link on my blog for people to find you..
(Note from Ben--Glady's website is worth checking out!)