This post is the start of a series on travel palettes.  I guess that really started with the Koi & Cotman sets, so onward. Next we have the Grace Art Model 118 18-piece Water Colors Field Sketch Set with Brush.

Grace Art Model 118 18-piece Water Colors Field Sketch Set with Brush

Grace Art watercolor paint cubes free from pans

The only reason I bought this $12 set was to pop the paints that it comes with out of the pans and use it for a travel palette.  I couldn’t find my stash of empty half pans and they are not available locally. Sometimes empty watercolor pans are hard to come by. Eventually I found the pans.  I decided to keep this, review it, and show the travel palette conversion. The first part of this is a take heed and warning post on buying cheap watercolors.

Box measures approximately 7.4 x 4 x 0.8 inches, with three mixing areas in the hinged lid, a small water brush, tiny piece of sea sponge, and a little ceramic dish. The description says:

  • High Quality 18 color water color field sketch set with brush
  • Half pan watercolors, formulated to blend easily and create good range of colors
  • A refillable water brush to transport and store water
  • A small and sleek design that fits into pockets well, the kit is lightweight and affordable
  • Good to use on the go and at home

High quality is a gross misstatement, and this is too large for a pants pocket.  Unless you have big pockets.

Grace Art Model 118 18-piece Water Colors Field Sketch Set with Brush swatch and mountain painting

The reviews of this product on Amazon make it sound great with 4 and 5 star ratings.  Look at that horrible painting above, and this:

Grace Art Model 118 18-piece Water Colors Field Sketch Set with Brush chalk hands

It was terrible to paint with.  After the painting dried it looked really chalky, I swiped my hand over it. If you are starting out with watercolor- buy the best paints you can afford, or save up for them.  Don’t waste your money on crappy paints just to have some, because in the end, you will want the better paints.  How often do you get to paint?  Enjoy the heck out of it while you do, with nice paints. Depending on how much and what size you paint, it’s possible that they could last for a long time. Doesn’t matter how “good” or skilled of a painter you think you are, what maters is that you are painting and allowing that creativity to move through you.  Skills will come along the way in your artistic journey.  You and your creative expression are worth good quality watercolor paints. On to the conversion.

Grace Art Model 118 18-piece Water Colors Field Sketch Set with Brush with pans removed

I like the set-up with the removable half pans, 18 is a lot. There’s room for additional pans or brushes where the water brush is stored. The water brush is decent enough to keep. After reading the reviews, I knew there were problems with the lid staying snapped shut when I bought it. It closes, but not as securely as one would want.  I figured I could deal with it, and much of the time, curiosity gets the better of me.

The cubes of paint pop out easily, and they were liberated from the half pans by using my fingers. After I took this photo, I soaked the half pans for a while in warm soapy water and then scrubbed any paint residue out with a toothbrush.  I was able to fit a few smaller sized paint brushes is the middle.

Grace Art emptied watercolour palette with watercolor brushes

One set-up option.  There is room in the middle for full pans and a few travel brushes. To show size- that is a Moleskine pocket watercolor journal 3.5″ x 5.5″ next to it. These are all half pans that I already had filled with Daniel Smith watercolors.  I have not refilled any of the half pans that came with the set yet.  Still figuring out what I want to put in this.  See this post for a tip on the benefits of filling pans at an angle.

Grace art watercolor palette filled with new paints, brushes and a moleskine
New Palette Set-Up and  Moleskine Watercolor Journal
Grace Art watercolor palette with Moleskine Art Plus pocket watercolor journal
Moleskine and Closed Palette
Grace Art watercolor palette with Moleskine Art Plus pocket watercolor journal on top
Moleskine On Top of Palette

You can see above how it doesn’t look like it’s snapped shut all of the way.  How I solved the issue of this not closing securely- a good ol’ cotton tube sock. This would work for any small travel palette. Someone commented about their Winsor & Newton Cotman Pocket Box opening in their bag.  This would keep that from happening.  I cut off the entire leg part with the ribbing and doubled it up inside of itself.  You could cut as much or as little as you wanted. I would try to find socks that the entire leg has ribbing.  The paint brush could also be slipped under the sock and transported that way. Sure a rubber band would work, but this sock serves in two ways.

Tube sock around Grace Art travel watercolor palette and paint brush

I doubled it up inside of itself as a two layered wrist band.  I also want it to serve as a brush wipe that I can wear on my wrist.  This seems like a good idea for plein air sketching, and  I plan on testing it out soon!  Especially on the beach, if it’s on your wrist, no sand is getting onto a rag set down and possibly into your brush after wiping, and then into the paints. When done painting, it can be slipped back over the paint box.  I suspect if this is machine washed after use, it will unravel on the cut end. Hand washing is suggested.  I did feel a little bit like this after I put the wrist brush wipe on😉

Tube sock around wrist to act as a watercolor brush wipe and watercolour brush

One other reason I wasn’t worried about it not snapping securely closed- The Lihit Lab Teffa Bag in Bag A5.  I love this thing.  So much fits into it for a travel set-up and it could be carried the way it is or slipped into a tote bag or backpack. It’s made out of a polyester weave and measures 7.2 x 10 x .5 inches.  It also comes in an A4 size.  I’ve only found them on or Amazon. With the Grace Art palette in the inside compartment, there is still room to put more items in that main zip compartment.  It unzips fully to make a little area to spread your items out onto. I will feature this on other travel set-ups as well.

There are many different options for making travel palettes.  Something like what I did above, candy tins, Altoids tins, any small tin, make-up cases.  Metal watercolor paint palette boxes that are made for travel.  One example is what Charlie uses. In future posts, I will explore many of these options. This is an ongoing series of watercolor and art supply reviews.  Your comments are appreciated!

Grace Art watercolor paint cube mandala with heart

Posted by:Jessica Seacrest

Hi I'm the Doodlewash Supply Blogger and offer biweekly reviews of various types of art supplies, watercolors, and helpful tips. I approach artistic expression with a light-hearted point of view. I love to see, and support others opening up to, and embracing their creative process with any medium or creative expression.

58 replies on “DOODLEWASH REVIEW: A Cautionary Tale & Palette Hack

  1. Thanks for your comment Catherine. I hope my next few posts help out with travel palette descsions. And going to England- nice! One of the cheap palettes of watercolor that I have I really like, and I’ve enjoyed painting with them in my journal because the colors are so fun.


  2. LOVE behind the scenes stories! That is a whole art in itself isn’t it – preparation, organizing, testing and then the actual road test (which usually leads to more equipment tweaking). The sock idea is splendid – and a great way to re-purpose worn ones. Congratulations – keep those reviews and tips coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love behind the scenes art stories too. I always like seeing pictures of people’s desks, studios and set-ups. I’m happy you are enjoying the reviews, and I appreciate the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The palette is worth buying just for the case! Great review and tips. Love the tube sock idea. So clever. I’m going to have to check out the travel bag. I currently use a cosmetic bag I bought at Target. It has two zipper compartment for paint palette, journals and other supplies and also a middle flap for brushes. The whole thing zips and has a handle so when I go out, I just carry it like a bag. 😊

    We’ve talked about this but Artist Loft brand of paint cakes are crappy and I have several of them. I was thinking of popping the cakes out to use as an empty palette. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kari! You travel carry bag sounds like it works great. Hehehe, yes we did talk about those crappy cakes. The colors it comes with are so tempting though. I have a review in store for that set in the future. And thanks so much for helping out with one of my future reviews! High five on that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review and I especially like your comments about buying decent paints and such. It really is worth it in the long run. Brilliant idea to use the sock — who doesn’t want to feel like Wonder Woman when out painting? Looking forward to more reviews

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahah Ellie! Thank you, your comment gave me a chuckle. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt that way😉 I’m glad you found the review helpful.


  5. Another awesome review! Don’t we all love travel palettes! I second, third and fourth your statement about buying the best paints. Could be the difference between loving or hating Watercolors. And with your reviews doing the testing of good and bad…perfect!
    I look forward to your reviews every Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Teri! It’s good to be amongst kindred spirits. If I would have gotten this set as my first, I wouldn’t have like watercolors. I went almost straight to the good stuff😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, true! For whatever reason, I put these into a tin and didn’t toss them. Who knows what I think can be done with them someday. Thank you for the comment🙂


    1. Hi Cathe and thank you! Hopefully this will save some unsuspecting folks from getting products that they won’t like.


  6. Great review….will not buy! Lol, love all the tips. After your last diaper tip, I have now bought 1 m of ZORB, the material used to line the reusable diapers. I have cut up into sections, and it is amazing, best thing bought this year, saving on kitchen roll, and super absorbent. Thank you……now off to the sock draw!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fantastic Rebecca. ZORB! What a name! It reminds be of a B movie title- The Creature from ZORB, hehehe. I’m glad they work so well, thanks for letting me know!🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful info! I just put the Teffa bag on my wish list so the kids can buy it for Mothers Day! You are so right about buying the best paints one can afford; I learned that the hard way. Also, I have enough mismatched socks to last a lifetime, so now I know what to do with them. I knew i was saving them for a reason!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smart move Carol-Mother’s Day gift! The dryer was helping you out- eating the mates to those socks, just so you would have brush wipes😉.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fantastic post, love all the great ideas for travel paint kits. Appreciate the links, helps in finding cool stuff to make on the road painting easier. (note to self: raid the sock drawers!) Thank you for all your effort and research.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Haunani, and thank you for this comment. I appreciate it very much! I’m glad it has helpful to you! I was just over enjoying your blog and your lovely paintings and sketches. I’ve been practicing beach painting a little. I will be visiting Kauai again very soon. There is a special place in my heart for that island. I plan on painting everyday while I am there🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, thank you for this post, Jessica! Wonderful info and links! I’ve never heard of these paints before; 18 half pans plus room for more sounds good at $12 (dumping the paints, of course). I’ll definitely keep it in mind when I decide I need another palette. I did buy the Whiskey Painters Master Palette, so I’m good for, oh, another month or so ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lynne! I love the little Whiskey Painters palette, the Master must be very nice! Next week’s post is a review of a few metal palettes. And hehehe, I had to laugh about you being good for a month or so…because it is so true!


  10. Thank you so much Jessica and Charlie! Both of you rock!! 😍 Your tips are very helpful, i have book marked these reviews so that i can go back and read anytime if i forgot something🙂 many thanks for sharing with us🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good tips! I have plenty of spare socks for using as a case cover and brush wipe. I bought the Cotman set, but have not used it. My class urged tube paints. I may give this set with a moleskineart as a cherity gift.

    I made an altoid half pan set with sticky backed Velcro do the pans won’t fall out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice! How do you like the Altoids set you made? Did you fill it with paints yet? How do you like the Velcro? I’m full of questions! Giving the gift of art is wonderful, if you decide not to keep the other one.


    1. Hehehe, this made me chuckle Wendy. I’m not wanting to show too much from inside that thing😉. Although there are a few posts on IG (@jessicaseacrest) with quick things that I did in it. I’m glad you liked the post and I appreciate your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I put lesser used psints in tge altoid yin. Paynes Gray, ivory bkack, white, violet, vandyke brown. Makesmire room on my palette for mixing colors. Velcro seals in tge 1/2 pans securely. But alliwing me yo move them if need be. I think it will eork out great. I bought a smaller 18 color palette, Fushion 18 -seslable. I think thus will be a hood vombo gor me. But then. I;m syill a newbie to yhus wstervolir endeavor.


  13. Interesting review. i painted several charts of GraceArt, Winsor Newton Artists, Prima and Blue Bento probably about a month ago. You had me curious to run my fingers across those charts on heavy weight archival white paper. No residual lifts on fingers or cloth. This is an easy set for a sketchbook or quick wash. They wet easy with a spray bottle. I paid about $12 as well, proud to own it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post, thanks for putting it together. I’m a knitter as well so I may knit up a cotton wrist band on small needles to use. If you have a sewing machine, a quick zip around the raw edge of the sock will stop the machine knitting from unraveling when you wash it. Just be careful not to sew the sock tube closed😉 can you be so kind as to tell me what red soft fabric pencil case that is, in the last photo at the bottom of your post? Thank you! 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rachel, I am also a knitter🙂 The case at the bottom is the one I referred to in the text above with links- The Lihit Lab Teffa Bag in Bag- the hyper link is in bold black, click on it and it should take you to the page on JetPens. These can also find them on Amazon. Hopefully the links still work! Thank you for your comment and happy knitting and painting! I’ve been knitting more than painting lately😉


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