This post is a lot of pictures and links to compare black metal travel palettes, where to find them, and where to find empty watercolor pans that you can fill with your own paints. My experience is that empty full or half watercolor pans can be hard to come by. Much of the time, they are sold out. Shipping can be a lot if all you want is a package or two of empty pans. Also, they can be expensive, up to $.75 per little plastic pan. My local art store does not carry half or full pans. I’ve asked them to, but even they said that they have a hard time finding them. I will list sites that I’ve had luck with.
These are small medium and large black metal watercolor palettes that half or full pans snap into. They come with brand names like Schmincke and Lukas. The medium and large sizes are all are basically the same, but palettes with a name on them cost more. All come with rings on the bottom to secure them in your hand.
In the picture below, they are open. I cut out watercolor paper for paint swatches that fits into the lids, which can be removed from the mixing area. The large open palette has the inside railing still in it with the pans snapped in, it’s a generic no-name palette. The closed Lukas is under it and they are basically the same.
The medium with no pans inside is a no-name. The medium with the pans inside is a Schmincke. The railing that secured the pans was removed and is sitting below that palette. A lot more pans can fit into it with the railing removed- it lifts right out. I put a small amount of rubber cement on the bottom of the pans to secure them in. Rubber cement is a removable adhesive, inexpensive, easy to use, and works fine. Many people use small magnets that they adhere to the bottom of the pans. Double sided tape could also be an option, or Loctite adhesive putty.
The small palette is a Whiskey Painters palette. I like this little palette, but it is expensive, almost $40, plus shipping. FOME makes one that looks like the same thing, for $26, but they are almost always sold out. If you see the FOME available and think you might want it- grab it!
Blue Rooster Art Supply has the most inexpensive metal palettes and empty watercolor pans that I’ve been able to find. Medium size palette- $13, and twelve empty half or full pan sets for $5. Dick Blick empty watercolor pans and palettes are considerably more, they are Schmincke brand. People are paying for a name with those, they are no better than a no-name brand- $13 for a no-name palette, or $43 for one that says a name. In the photo below, the generic on the left came from Blue Rooster.
Large- if the metal rail that the pans are snapped into was removed, many more pans would fit into it. It lifts out easily. Check out Guest Doodlewashers Scott Torrance’s large metal paint box, and this one of Mutiara Cininta’s filled with little gems.
Medium with and without pan rails. Guest Doodlewasher Firman Lubis also uses a medium sized palette.
Small– Whiskey Painters. There is probably a way to tweak this pallet to fit three more pans in over the twelve that I’m showing. Maria Mercedes Trujillo on her blog, MagaMerlina has an example of a Winsor & Newton Bijou Box that has been modified to fit more pans. That palette looks almost exact to the Whiskey Painters. To my knowledge, the Bijou Boxes are not longer sold by W&N. This little travel box looks very similar to what Guest Doodlewasher Marion Younan uses in her sketching. Anna Warren uses a Winsor and Newton Cotman Field Box.
This is the small, medium and large stacked on each other.
If you are Europe try Jackson’s Art Supplies. Their empty pan and metal palette prices are good and they have a big variety of art supplies. I’m not familiar with many stores outside of the US, if you have any you like, please let me know so that I can include the info for other artists.
I don’t have one of these to show, but here is another option for a travel palette- The Art Toolkit by Maria Coryell-Martin.
There are many options to purchase ready made palettes as well. Like the Sennelier Aqua-Mini and SO many others. It just depends on what you are looking for, and if you want to add your own paints. After writing this, I’m even happier with my Grace Art travel set-up that I reviewed last week. -$12 for the palette and 18 replaceable half pans! Many watercolors brands are also available in prefilled pans that you can just pop into a palette.
Here are some example travel carry set-ups to help generate ideas.
Whiskey Painters palette, spray bottle to wet paper or paints, Nalgene bottle for brush water carry- it’s good to have two of these, Moleskine Pocket watercolor journal, Platinum Carbon fountain pen, and a Pentel Aquash water brush. I prefer Everything Clips for holding down journal pages.
Below are some of the same items listed above, and also a large Moleskine Art notebook that the small Moleskin is resting on, and a small Leuchtturm 1917 Pocket Sketchbook, Da Vinci Travel brushes, Rosemanry & Co. Sable Blend Series 401 brush, Raphael Soft Aqua Quill 3/0 (love this brush) and a Lamy Safari fountain pen. The small glass mason jam jar is another option for carrying water. I got the small eye dropper bottle from my local art store, it’s good for moistening paints. I put together the little Altoids tin palette and will give tips for making that, and others, in a couple of posts from this one. I think they are fun to make.
Flying with fountain pens takes some extra care. Goulet Pens has helpful information on flying with them.
Similar set-up with the small and medium palettes. The pencils have these caps on them.
All that stuff pictured just above, fits inside of the The Lihit Lab Teffa Bag in Bag A5. Another view of this bag set up is available on the Grace Art Conversion post. I also like this inexpensive Canvas Riggers Bag from Harbor Freight. The Lihit Teffa bag, water and brushes fit nicely with room left over, and it also fits larger journals. One other option I like is this Catmacas canvas man bag, it works nicely without the Lihit Teffa bag.
Whew, that was a lot of links and photos! Thanks for sticking with me if you made it this far :). I hope none of the links take you anywhere weird, after a while I couldn’t see straight. A note on what I link to- I am not associated or affiliated with any of the sites, companies, or products that I link to or review. Nor do I receive rebates from the linked sites. If I ever receive a product in exchange for a review, I will make it known. I share this info from my heart with fellow artists, who are out there doing their own explorations and figuring things out as they go.
This is an ongoing series of watercolor and supply reviews. I’m going to be off sketching for a couple of weeks and will do my best to respond to comments when I return 🙂