Friday, December 5, 2008

Exploring Grandfather's Paintbox - V

Chapter V


Well, there you have it. A leisurely tour through the painting kit of William Hall Henwood. I hope you have enjoyed it.

And now a question presents itself, which is, should I preserve this whole collection as I found it, as a memorial and heirloom to be passed on to my descendants, (should any of them show interest)? Or should I carefully, lovingly, renovate the box, install my own paints and brushes, and take it once more into the field. I have found some brass fittings that fit the castings where the legs screwed in. These same fittings would also fit into bamboo canes of about 9/16” outside diameter, which would make good, lightweight legs . (Or I could easily enough build telescoping legs out of hardwood which would be even better. I have a nice piece of cherry wood that has been waiting twenty-five years for the perfect little project.) There is a third option, difficult, time-consuming, but perhaps worth the effort. I could try to build a replica of the box. Without metal-working tools or the skill, I could not make an exact copy except at unjustifiable expense. I could make the box easily enough to the same size; same hinging, lid, handle and similar brass hooks to hold it closed. I could make it out of the same material as the original since I still have some pieces of walnut lying around, left over from the days when I made furniture for a hobby. But am I ever going to paint in oils en ‘plein air’? Somehow I doubt it.

Perhaps the best answer then, might be to make a walnut box of the same size and appearance simply to hold my oil paints in the studio. This would fill a need, whilst at the same time serving to remind me of the roots of my interest in painting. Tell me what you think.

Thanks, Grandfather.



DCG said...

I have enjoyed your story of your grandfatherand his art, Andrew. You have honoured him well. In regards to the construction of a new paintbox, I have only one comment. If you go to the trouble of fitting bamboo or other material for the legs to the brass fittings please take care that the joints are robust. I suspect that marrying brass to wood will not give sufficient strength. Instead I would recommend considering placing a photographic camera mount (female fitting) on the box underside and connect a standard commercial camera tripod to the box. I know of one artist who uses this system to support his plein aire painting kit.

Bonny said...

What a fascinating tour through a bit of your family history!! You have a valuable treasure in your Grandfather's Paint Box. To think you could buy something for so little money at the time - mind you, keeping it in perspective to those times, it probably was a good deal of money then!!
I think your solution of keeping the paint box near you in your studio is perfect. If, as you say, you won't find it useful outside, then you'll at least have a constant reminder and a link to the past. After all, that past formed part of who you are today. What a remarkable gift to have such a beautiful and tangible link to someone so special.

Thank you for sharing your stories and inventories and memories. It's how they remain close to you and remmbered and cherished. I enjoyed every word ;)

Andrew said...

DCG - Thanks so much for your appreciation and thoughtful suggestions. The idea of using a standard tripod is brilliant, and I will certainly keep that in mind for whatever 'plein air' kits I decide to assemble in future. I rather think that with grandfather's though, I would tend to restore it in a traditional way. Regarding your good point about structural integrity, I do have quite a bit of experience working with all kinds of woods, and I would pay close attention to making sure that the stresses at this point were transferred gradually over a decent length of the stick, probably by first marrying the fitting I have illustrated to a bit more supporting brasswork which would in turn embrace the stick.