Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette “designed from the ground-up to make watercolors simpler.” If you are into urban sketching, travel sketching, or painting in the great outdoors, even a little- don’t miss this post! It’s a shorter post with lots of photos.
So many art supplies are marketed towards women, probably because we are the ones buying most of them. But guys, you will love this one too!
Nerd Alert! I went straight to Nerdsville in this post- so fun.
The Force was with Steve, the creator of the Portable Painter, when he designed this palette. I love it when an ingenious person is inspired by their love for art to make an awesome tool for the rest of us to be inspired with too. Seriously, this palette was well thought out- by an artist- because Steve is a fine one. Here’s a little about Steve.
“In my youth, I graduated from Loughborough Art College in England, studying sculpture with drawing. Since then, I’ve faithfully carried art materials with me on my travels. It was usually a chaotic muddle of stuff, but at the heart of it there was always a small watercolor kit (which is, without a doubt, the most portable way to paint.) As an artist I’ve always tended towards representational imagery and I particularly enjoy still life subjects. Although I do try my hand at urban sketching from time to time.
My affinity for sculpture morphed over time into a successful career as a designer and eventually a product developer. A couple of years ago I found myself with plenty of time on my hands. I decided that if I put my mind to it, I could probably design a watercolor palette that was compact, elegant and above all functional. In November, 2016 the Portable Painter was launched on Indiegogo. “
This thing is super cool. It reminds me of something out of Star Wars, or a spaceship…or a Transformer.
Remember Pigs in Space from the Muppets? Captain Link Hogthrob, First Mate Piggy, and Dr. Strangepork…hehe- click here. Here’s my version with three legged lucky pigs, and it gives you a good look at the pedestal base design. When I first saw it set-up I thought of an Imperial Fleet TIE Fighter. Like I said- Nerdsville over here.
Now if you ever hear the term space bacon, you will think of this palette 😉
Okay, let’s get down to it.
Twelve empty half pans to fill with your own paints, two mixing areas in a super compact pocket size. My iPhone 6s is taller that it is. The outside case slides off and reattaches to the sides as water containers, or holds pens/brushes, maybe even a brush wipe. Or the containers stand on their own. Both water containers are slotted to hold a brush laying on top- without it rolling off. The palette portion can also lay flat without the water containers. It comes with a double pointed travel brush with its own spot inside the palette. There is a thick premium band of silicone around one of the containers that can hold pens/pencils, and the slider that locks the whole set-up together can slide onto the band while using the pallet, so you don’t lose it. Well done!
That’s me and it’s on my knee. No need to hold anything but the brush and painting surface 🙂
This would be a fantastic palette for artists in a wheelchair (thanks for this recommendation Suzala).
Here I’ve got it set on an uneven rock surface. It held steady and the water helped to weight it down a bit. The brush worked well to do this little sketch in my Hobonichi Techo.
You know the Winsor & Newton Cotman Pocket Box, how the pans rattle around in that thing? The Portable Painter- stealth quiet. The half pans are removable- but there is some marvelous and strong sticky on the bottoms of the pans, they are super secure in there. If I knew what this sticky was- I would buy it. Here’s the palette next to the Cotman Pocket Box for comparison. The white palette portion of the Portable Painter is roughly the size of the Cotman Pocket Box.
I tried replacing the pans with half pans from other brands. The spaces here are a tiny bit smaller. But what did fit were Winsor & Newton half pans and the pans that came with the Grace Art palette. I recommend assuming that you will be filling the pans it came with, rather than swapping them out with pans that you might already have filled. If you decide to swap the pans out for the type of pans I just mentioned, a way to secure them in might be warranted, perhaps rubber cement.
It comes with it’s own brush, but I tried some others. The brush slot inside the palette fits a few different types and sizes of travel brushes that I have- a size 2 Da Vinci Kolinsky Sable, or a Da Vinci Travel Series 902 Maestro Mini Brush, or up to a size 8 Miller’s Pseudo Sable Travel Brush.
Here it is on top of a small Pentalic Aqua Journal. Both fit nicely into this little zipper bag.
Just throwing this handy idea out there for urban and outdoor sketchers- super light weight and portable Coleman Rambler II Stool. That’s what I’m sitting on in the photo up top. I think I got this at Walmart, and I found it just now on Amazon.
I want to thank Steve for the opportunity to review his ingenious product.
I’ll be back next month with more supply reviews. Happy painting and sketching.
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