This is my new travel watercolor palette. I made it from a plastic fluorescent light fixture grid panel that’s made up of 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) squares. I cut out a piece of the grid and then molded some InstaMorph plastic to fashion a bottom plate. I made the lid the same way cutting out the grid to leave just a frame. I taped one edge to make a hinge and filled the wells with Lucas and Daniel Smith tube watercolors. When closed the palette measures 3.5 x 2 x 0.75 inches (8.5 x 5 x 1.8 cm) a very convenient size that’s easy to carry in a pocket or bag. I hold it shut with a rubber band. I also attached a magnetic sheet top and bottom to hold it in use on my setup board when painting on location.
Stillman & Birn Zeta series 5.5 x 8 inch spiral bound notebook, Mars 500 technical pen with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, Lucas and Daniel Smith watercolors.
Here’s a photo of the palette open and closed in my hand so you can get an idea of its size.
Next I made a chart of all the 50/50 mixes that can be made with these 15 colors.
It takes a long time to do these charts, but it is well worth the effort. It’s important to start with clean colors and to keep them clean while you are working. That means cleaning the brush every time you pick up a color to mix it with another color, cleaning the mixing area when it gets full, and changing the cleaning water often.
Here are some of my discoveries:
- When mixing it works best to mix light colors into darker/stronger colors.
- Don’t put down wet paint right next to another square with wet paint in it. The two colors will bleed into each other. You can see that on the far left in the third and fourth rows. From then on I worked in a checkerboard pattern, waited until the paints had dried and then filled in the rest of the blank squares in the checkerboard.
- I like the mixes made with Phalo Blue especially combined with my gray mix to make a nice Payne’s gray, with Viridian to make black, with Alizarin Crimson to make a nice dark brown, and Burnt Sienna to make gray.
- I also like the mixes with Ceruleum Blue. Mixing it with Viridian makea a lovely turquoise. Mixing it with Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber creates nice grays.
- I am not happy with the Lucas Cadmium Red Hue. It does not mix well. I need to find a better warm red.
- I like the wide variety of greens and earth colors in these mixes.
I was surprised by the number of dark value mixes. Here’s a black and white picture of the chart. Notice how many of the colors are darker than mid tone gray.
I guess I should have realized how many dark blues and browns I had in my palette, but I didn’t until I saw this chart.
I’m pretty happy with my color choices in this palette – particularly here in the Pacific Northwest where we have a lot of greens and browns and our skies show many grays and blues.