Friday, August 11, 2017

Home Made Watercolor Palettes

My Doodlewash Guest Artist post is up now! Go here to read all about my journey with watercolor. I'd love to hear your comments so please leave me a message and if you'd like to join the Doodlewash community go here and learn all about the new platform where you can get to know artist, post your work and hang out!

My Palette Right Now (Learn More Here)
Oh what fun watercolor artists around the world have making palettes. I know many of us have several, even many. Some of us make them for different painting projects, like one for landscapes, one for portraits, one for urban sketching etc. Others, like me, love to fiddle with the perfect size palette. I confess, if I had unlimited funds I'd have at least half a dozen palettes, just because I like different containers and sizes.

Luckily, I have figured out the best home palette recently. I used an empty QOR tin and filled it with half and full pans with magnets glued to the bottom of each pan. I strongly prefer metal palettes as opposed to plastic. Plastic stains so easily and scrubbing it clean doesn't usually work well. At least with metal palettes they clean off well and if they're stained with phthalo colors you can usually get it off using a Mr. Clean Magic Sponge.

Last month I bought a Derwent double tier metal pencil case (or here at Amazon) and when it arrived I realized it would make a cool complete painting set. I tested it out to see if the half/full pans would fit in the bottom and holy heck, they did! So, you could put your brushes, pencils, pens etc in the top tier and store a water brush and magnetic pans filled with paint in the bottom! As you can see, it'll hold a boat load of paint so if you LOVE having every color then you can do that. On the other hand, you could take one or two rows of pans out and put a couple water brushes in there, then it's a travel palette. If you do that you leave real-estate on the upper tier for a water bottle or two. Now all you need is a sketchbook and you're ready to paint! If you really wanted to get ingenious you could spray paint the top tier with white acrylic paint and it could be used as your mixing palette. I've seen people do this with other metal palettes. I've also seen artists re-spray their old metal palette that has become just too discolored over the years. A fresh coat of high bond acrylic paint will clear that right up.

Magnet Glued To Bottom Of Half Pan
The best thing about metal tins is that you can magnetize your pans so they STAY WHERE YOU PUT THEM. I used a roll of magnetic tape (it has sticky backing) but next time I think I'd get sheets or these cool strips (in Canada). The roll of tape doesn't unroll easily and I ended up having to glue the magnet on the pan as it pulled off of the sticky backing. I think the strips or sheets wouldn't do that.

There are so many great tins, palettes and holders out there! Here's a selection of the ones I've come across.
  • Sennelier Artists' Watercolor Half Pan Metal Pocket Box - Set of 12 half pans, if you just want to purchase a full palette without thinking, I think this is a good price. Wet Paint also usually has a custom 12 half pan Schmincke set. They're out right now but hopefully they'll be making another for 2018. It's the set I originally bought to get into artists' paint. I never looked back or regretted the $60 purchase! Best money I ever spent other than on my travel brushes.
  • Joe Miller's Travel Painter and Accessories -This is an amazing kit! It holds everything you'd ever need in a leather carry case. The kit includes two stainless steel Travel Painter Water Flasks, two stainless steel Travel Painter Collapsable Water Cups, a Mini 12-well Stainless Steel Travel Painter Palette with Sponge, a Sable Travel Painter Brush and a 4" x 6" Kilimanjaro Original 140 lb. Watercolor Block. All of this is encased in a leather case with carry strap. Measures 6-1/2" x 5-1/2" x 2". I WANT IT! You can buy just the metal palette here.
  • The Pocket Palette - This is a wonderfully small palette that holds fourteen colors, you can get extra metal pans too.
  • Mini Watercolor Tin on Etsy - Etsy can be great for new and creative ideas, this is just one seller with a great tin.
  • American Journey Artists' Watercolor Tins - Four sizes of tins for holding watercolor pans, they also sell pans and the magnetic tape!
  • Blue Rooster Art Supply Small Box - What a fantastic price! Measures 3" x 5" and should hold 12 to 14 half pans. They also sell half and full pans here so you could order everything you need.
  • Whiskey Painters Standard Palette - The Mack truck of palettes, it's more expensive but made of heavy duty metal. The center  can be filled with four more half pans.
  • Jack Richeson Mini Watercolor Set 8 - Just $3 and holds 8 tiny colors, remove kid's paint pucks and you have the tiniest palette ever!
  • Velos Large Tin Pen Case - Much like the Derwent tin above but without the second tier.
  • Kuretake Pocket Pouch 12 Color Set - you could empty the colors out of this and fill with artist watercolors.

I also just won a Van Gogh Watercolor Pocket Palette in World Watercolor Month giveaways. It's actually really cute and would do well for someone just beginning. Van Gogh paints are technically student grade but most artists agree they're actually between student and professional in quality, in other words, the best of student paint by far. I'll be reviewing it soon, for a plastic palette it's truly cute and useful. I just might decide to use it for plein air painting as I continue to participate in the Urban Sketching course on SBS.

Thanks to Charlie O'Shields for asking me to participate with Doodlewash, it was a pleasure.


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  1. Lots of info here!!! You know what I really love though is that the mix of pans and half pans are so perfectly composed! Perfect arrangement of colours!

  2. I love your works and congrats being a guest artist over at Doddlewash!! I have had cancer twice. You are stronger than you think. You go this!

    1. Thank you for stopping by my blog! If you would ever need someone to talk to, feel free to contact me!

  3. Love your reviews, Jenn! Thanks for all the information!

  4. That's awesome! I love home-made watercolor tins, and the one I end up using the most is one I made from a small calligraphy pen tin. It houses my favorite colors, kneadable eraser, small bull-dog clips, and a pencil sharpener. Happy PPF (I'm catching up a bit late).

  5. Great post! I do love watercolor palettes and never tire of seeing others' and hearing of new products. I have a Pinterest board of palettes!

  6. A really informative post Jenn! Happy PPF!

  7. Such an informative post. I am just starting out experimenting with watercolour as I usually work in acrylics.

  8. I used to use Watercolour but haven't now for a long time... They are still tucked away for when I next get the urge though!

  9. Oh, thanks so much for all the info. I am new to watercolors as I mainly work with acrylics. I am finding I love the delicate looks I can get with WC for my portraits.
    ~~ Irene

  10. So many palettes, so little time and it's hard to use more than two at one time anyway!

  11. There are some fantastic ideas here! Did you see the topic for DIY Travel palettes at Doodlewash?


Please leave me a comment, I've sure missed hearing from you!


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