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Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Review of Stan Sperlak's GOGH BOX

'And the Sun Returns'            5x7         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $75

No this is not an infomercial!  I had to smile when one of my students told me my Pawleys Island trip report blog posts sounded like an infomercial for the Gogh Box.  I am not a paid reviewer but I am a very enthusiastic Gogh Box owner!  I took it for a test run last week on my beach trip and I am thrilled with the box. I painted 35 paintings and I don't think I would have done half as many with my old pastel plein air set up.  Here is the complete review I have been promising!

The Gogh Box when it arrived
What is the Gogh Box?  It is a complete travel kit for pastel artists designed by Stan Sperlak. Here is what Stan has to say about the box:

Stan says: We “invented” the GOGH BOX! Specifically to allow pastel artists to take it with them on the plane, train and automobiles. (We tested it through airport security ) Fits in a backpack! No need for an easel and the tripod is just an option as this sits on a bench, your lap or a table too! Always ready to GO! Everything is packed tightly inside and you can take as much as 10-15 pre cut papers with you, enough for a whole weekend! Just load the small foam lined cardboard box with an assortment of your favorite pastels (it will hold 60 Terry Ludwigs) You will even look fashionable! Students love it and were happy this was all they brought to Scotland for a month of painting! 

My First Painting with the Gogh Box on the Screen Porch 

What I love about the Gogh Box is that is holds everything you need to paint. (except the tripod which you don't even need if you have a table or a lap)  No more fussing with a cart or backpack full of supplies. No more struggling with heavy easels and boxes of pastels. Just open the box, unfold your foamcore backing board,clip up your paper and take the lid of your pastel box and you are ready to paint. Set up time: one minute!  And it's just as quick to clean up, close up the box and move on to a new painting spot.  Here are a few photos of my box in action. Scroll down for more of my review.

On a table sitting in a rocking chair

On my lap sitting on a bench

On my tripod out on the beach

On my tripod down by the creek

On the porch sitting in a wicker chair

On the porch. I got lazy and sat back with the box on my lap

Are you tempted?  Before I go on here is the link to a PDF Stan has on his website detailing the box and how it works. There are also great photos of the set up including the supplies it comes with. Here is the link to the Gogh Box Information.

The box is ready to go when you receive it. All you have to do is fill the included empty foam lined box with your pastels. Here is a post about how I filled my pastel box.  We all work differently so you may want to set up the box to suit you. I did make a few slight adjustments.  Here are the answers to some FAQs that I have been asked:

  • What comes with the box?  Look at the PDF for photos but the box comes with a key and carry strap. Inside you have a foldable foam core backing board, foamcore sandwich for paper and finished work, bulldog and bankers clips,watercolor set, small water spray bottle, empty foam lined box for pastels, pencil set, pushpin,wipes,rubber bands,pastelboard and 3 pieces of Wallis paper. 
  • How do you set up the support board? When you open the box the lid stays upright so you will lean your support board against it. You simply unfold the panels using the bulldog clips to secure the folds open. The smaller folded section goes under your pastel box which secures it. ****Note that we decided to use a large rubber band to secure the board to the lid. We attached the rubber band to each bulldog clip. This prevents any gust of wind from moving the board. We also covered the board with clear contact paper for protection and easy clean-up. NOTE: I am using the board the wrong way in my photos! Stan corrected me. If you put the wide fold down into the box it wedges in and won't move! Duh!!
  • How do you attach your paper?  You use the bulldog clips and the bankers clips. I am NOT a clip person. I like to use artists tape. But I was determined to get used to the clips (one less thing to carry) and after a few paintings the clips didn't bother me at all. No more tape for me!
  • Where does the pastel dust go?  At first I though I would be bothered about dust falling into the box. But actually the dust falls into the bottom fold of the foamcore support. I didn't push the pastel box all the way to the back so the dust didn't fall on my pastels either. At clean up all you do is lift out the support and dump the dust. The contact paper covering makes clean up a breeze.
  • Will the Pastels break in the cardboard box? The box comes with foamlined slots (it's a Terry Ludwig box which is nice and sturdy)  I took out the slots so I could get more pastels in the box. The trick is to pack them tightly so they don't move around. You also want to secure the box with rubber bands. It is also important that the box be packed tightly into the Gogh box so it doesn't move around in transport. I had NO broken pastels. It worked great!
  • What about Tripods? How do you attach one?  You don't really need one if you are creative in finding a place to set the box. (laps work great)  But a tripod is nice to have. The box comes with the plate for a tripod already attached. If you have a tripod with a quick release plate, you simply screw the quick release plate onto the plate on the bottom of the box. Now all you have to do is snap the box onto your tripod. I am looking into getting a lighter weight travel tripod.
  • Where do you keep you paper and finished paintings?  The box comes with a foamcore sandwich held together with rubber bands. You can keep your paper and finished paintings in this sandwich. I put in a few sheets of glassine paper to protect the finished paintings. I also ended up with too many paintings for the sandwich so I used a real estate magazine (free) to hold the overflow.
  • How big is it and how much does it weigh?  It weights about 5 pound full. It will probably vary slightly depending on what you put in it.  The size is:  13" wide  5" deep and 9 1/2" tall.
We did make a few adjustments to the set up.  I decided to take out the watercolors and pencils and added a smaller box of Nupastels and charcoal which suited me better but that is a minor thing. Overall the box is fantastic.  I got a new backpack for the box but I'll review that in another post.

If you have any other questions let me know!!  And Thank you Stan for coming up with such a great box!


David King said...

Thanks for the review Karen. Would you mind sharing the overall dimensions of the box when all closed up? Also what are the dimensions of the box that holds the pastels themselves? I'm always puzzled when plein equipment manufacturers leave such vital info off the specs on their website. The total weight fully loaded would be nice too. Thanks

Karen said...

Sorry!! I thought the specs were on the website. I'll measure and weigh the box this morning and add to my review!!

Diane said...

I was just about to ask the same question as David did. I looked on Stan's website and do not see the dimensions of the box mentioned anywhere. Also, in his description he does not say anything about a small watercolor set included (which is fine with me,I would probably remove it just as you did).

Karen said...

Diane, I just updated the review...the specs are the last FAQ.

Sarah Bachhuber Peroutka said...

Karen, when you are shopping for tripods, will you please keep notes on the brands you look at and your comments? A light weight tripod is on my shopping list and I'll appreciate using your comparisons and decision to save me some time!

Karen said...

Sure Sarah. I have it narrowed down to two right now. I'll be making a decision very soon and will post about it!

robertsloan2art said...

Thanks for the review! This looks so tempting. I probably wouldn't leave out the watercolor set, but each their own. I didn't see it mentioned on the list of contents but guess you bought one for it or there used to be one included.

I have too many pocket sets of watercolors, it's crazy, not to mention little cheap plastic folding palettes to fill with watercolor or gouache for underpainting. I always have one in my pockets vest anyway so it wouldn't need to take up space in the Gogh Box.

How many pastels does that box hold without the slotted foam? I can see that would easily be enough for a themed-to-landscape and season selection. I'm used to the smaller Terry Ludwig boxes, the 14 color ones.

Denise Rose said...

Sounds like a great piece of equipment! Great review too!

Karen said...

Thanks Denise and Robert. Robert I didn't count my pastels but I got lots in th ebox....some were full size Ludwigs and some were smaller pieces of other pastels. It was more than enough for my week long painting trip. The box came with a small watercolor set but I took it out because I find I rarely do underpaintings for plein air. I have an even smaller tin of Schminke watercolors that I like so I will put it in my backpack just in case.

David King said...

Thanks for adding the dimensions Karen.

Paula Campbell said...

Karen, I just ordered a Gogh box, and will watch for your recommendation on a tripod. Thanks for this info!

Unknown said...

Not that good at this, don't know if original went through so here it is again, Have you decided on tripod yet? What backpack - did you do post on that. I'm going overseas for month, stay mostly one area with some local weekend trips. Wondering if I need box that holds more pastels, any suggestions

Karen said...

Patricia I haven't done a review yet but I did get a tripode. I got the Oben AT 3400 which folds up to fit in a backpack! My Backpack is a Northface Overhaul 40. I am taking all on a cruise in 2 weeks so I was going to give a review after I test everything together!!