We are using the 11X14 Palette/Panel Holder for the photos within this instructional. Please note that there is only one Aluminum Side Arm on the 8X10 and 10X12 Palette/Panel Holders. Also, there is not the strip of Baltic Birch wood on the underside of the palette (where the tripod fitting is located) on the smaller sizes. On the 8X10 and 10X12 Palette/Panel Holders, the tripod fitting is recessed into the rear back portion on the underside of the palette.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to watch a short video showing the 10x12 Palette/Panel Holder.
Loosen the thumb nuts and the wing nuts that are associated with the Sliding Arm Assembly located on the side of the Palette/Panel Holder. Don't forget about the thumb nut that is on the underside of the palette.
Now, open the "lid" of the Palette/Panel Holder to about 90 degrees. Next, slide the aluminum side arm(s) ALL OF THE WAY BACK to achieve the maximum stability. Tighten the wing nuts and thumb nuts snugly to the desired angle. You should never have to use pliers.
The fitting that is on the underside of the Palette/Panel Holder is the same 1/4 inch, 20 thread count female threaded fitting that is found on the underside a camera. Using a QUICK RELEASE PLATE is very handy for attaching your Palette/Panel Holder to a regular camera tripod. The Quick Release Plate will screw into the threaded fitting that is on the underside of the palette (pictured above) and will allow the Palette/Panel Holder to then be quickly (and easily) attached into the ball head of a camera tripod. Please note that QUICK RELEASE PLATES are specific to the model of tripod/ball head combination that is being used. Not all ball heads will include a Quick Release Plate. If you are unsure about a Quick Release Plate option for a specific ball head, we advise contacting the manufacturer or dealer of the tripod/ball head combination that is being used.
Attach the Palette/Panel Holder to the ball head of the tripod.
Loosen the two wing nuts that are located on the back "lid" portion of the Palette/Panel Holder. This will allow you to slide the Brass Arms back and forth. The protruding Brass Arms (on the front side) will be holding your panel or stretched canvas in place.
Adjust the protruding Brass Arms (located on the front side) so that they are about 1/4" LESS THAN the horizontal width of the panel or stretched canvas that is being used. Next, snug the wing nuts (on the back side) into place. Now, slide the panel or canvas into the LEFT protruding Brass Arm (the spring arm) and push it outward to allow our PATENTED SPRING ARM SYSTEM to hold the desired painting surface into place. There aren't any protrusions that will interfere with brush strokes and there is not any vertical limitation to the panel or canvas height when using Open Box M's ORIGINAL Palette/Panel Holder design. The minimum horizontal size that the Brass Arms will hold is 5 inches horizontal and this applies to all sizes of Palette/Panel Holders. The maximum horizontal size will be determined by the size of the Palette/Panel Holder that is being used. The larger the Open Box M Palette/Panel Holder, the greater maximum horizontal holding capacity it will have. 8x10 - maximum width panel or canvas is 15.5" 10x12 - maximum width panel or canvas is 17.5" 11x14 - maximum width panel or canvas is 19.5" 12x16 - maximum width panel or canvas is 24"
One Side Palette Extension is included with every Open Box M Palette/Panel Holder. The Side Palette Extension can be easily removed from where it is stored by lifting up the Bronze Spring Clip that is located on the backside of the "lid" of the 8X10, 10X12 and 11X14 Palette/Panel Holders, or on the underside of the palette on the 12X16 Palette/Panel Holder. To attach the extension, simply loosen the thumb nuts that are on the underside of the palette, line up the grooves of the palette extension with the screws that are associated with the thumb nuts, then tighten the thumb nuts to hold the extension in place.
After your first Plein Air outing and before putting your Palette/Panel Holder away, scrape off all of the excess paint that is in the mixing area by using a palette knife or flat razor blade and going left and right, with the grain of the wood. Next, pour a small amount of your turpentine or other brush washing solvent into the palette area and wipe it down with a recycled rag or paper towels. Try to wipe up all of the paint and brush washing solvent until you are able to see the grain of the wood again. You will notice that your oil paint will begin to absorb into the grain of the Baltic Birch palette and a nice "glass like" patina will begin to form within the mixing area, even after the first cleaning. Repeat this palette cleaning process every time that you have finished using your Palette/Panel Holder. When maintained correctly, the patina will build up and tend to take on a grey/green (neutral) color, becoming as smooth as glass and also strengthening the Baltic Birch palette over time. The most important thing to remember is to not allow any excess paint to ever dry within the palette mixing area.
Some artists will have a piece of glass cut that will take up the inside of the palette area. If you choose to do this, we advise that you wait to have the glass cut until you can measure the actual palette mixing area of your Palette/Panel Holder. A dab of silicone on each corner on the underside of the glass will be sufficient for holding the glass down.
Some artists feel it is necessary to add more of a protective substance to the palette area prior to first use. Every Palette/Panel Holder has been coated with Danish Oil (Natural Color) prior to leaving Open Box M. If you add more protection, we recommend that you use an oil based (not latex or water based) substance. First, lightly sand the palette area with 120 - 200 grit sand paper (to help open the grain of the Baltic Birch wood) and then follow the directions for applying whatever oil based substance is being used.
Some artists will cut palette paper to their specific palette size and then use the paper within their palette mixing area. If you do this, we still recommend that you wipe and clean any excess paint that might have gotten onto the wood before it has a chance to dry.
Open Box M offers Complete Refurbishes where we can fit a brand new palette to your Palette/Panel Holder. Visit our Repairs section to learn more.
Below is a short tutorial of Chicago based artist and instructor Errol Jacobson setting up the Open Box M 10 X 12 Palette/Panel Holder.