DOODLEWASH REVIEW: Portable Painter Travel Palette

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette

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.

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette

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.

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette pigs in space

Now if you ever hear the term space bacon, you will think of this palette 😉

Okay, let’s get down to it.

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette

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!

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette

That’s me and it’s on my knee.  No need to hold anything but the brush and painting surface 🙂

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette

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.

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette with catalina mountains sketch in tucson by jessica seacrestPortable Painter is a hands free travel palette

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.

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette

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.

Portable Painter is a hands free travel palette

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.

The site has a cool video check it out here. The portable painter retails for $29.95, and is available from the Portable Painter website.

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.

Celebrate World Watercolor Month with us in July! Click here for more info.World Watercolor Month July 2017 Header

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Art Supply Reviews
  1. Laura 6 years ago

    Thank you Jessica for your wonderful review. I enjoyed the Star Wars and Muppet comparisons. Informative and entertaining. A good way to start the day.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      Thanks for your comment Laura. I’m glad someone enjoyed my silly comparisons! Hehe 🙂

  2. HW 6 years ago

    I love this thing but mine did not come with that black band! Off to email and ask.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      I’m not positive, but I think the first version may not have had the band.

  3. Monique 6 years ago

    I had read about this a while ago..but had a portable kit on order..:) It’s funny..I harddly ever paint on the go outside..but am so taken with these little kits that I coveted this one right away..

    it is so cute and handy..cute counts for me:)
    I can tell you love it..
    I just wish our Cdn dollar would get back to good:) All my US friends tempt me..with so many art goodies;)

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      Cute definitely counts. This time of year where I live is too hot to go outside. I look forward to using this more in cooler months!

  4. Fredric 6 years ago

    I looked at these some time ago but I had a perfectly good Cotman pocket box but I’m tired of picking up the half pans when they fall out or flipping them back over when they manage to stay in so I’m intrigued your report of super sticky pans. Just placed my order, next week we’ll put it to the test! Thank you Jessica for your delightful reviews.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      Yep, super sticky 🙂 I’m curious to hear what you think Fred.

  5. zuzala 6 years ago

    I too received mine early so got neither sticky pans or a rubber band. For others in the same boat i glued a teeny super magnet to the slider and a small metal washer to the side of a cup: that way there is always a place to store the slider and not loose it onsite. Additionally i purchased “Super strong glue dots” that many scrapbookers use to hold down the pans. I have also successfully used these in “make it yourself” “Altoid ” type palettes.
    I have half pans ( dont know the brand) that were ordered from blue rooster art and Jackson art that fit into the spaces but are not flush with the edges of the sections. -Do not let this deter you, the box will still close with no problem and all will be right with the world.
    While i didnt see the star wars features in mine, i do appreciate the thoughtfulness with which it was designed, how well it works, it’s compactness and of course most importantly how it lends your art kit an aura of super coolness.
    Thanx for the nod and another excellent review Jessica

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      You’re so smart Suzala! I’m going to have to investigate these “Super strong glue dots!”

  6. Melissa 6 years ago

    Sold! This looks awesome. I’ve been wanting to get a traveling palette for some time, and have been quizzing everyone I know about what’s best. This looks awesome! I particular like how the cover converts into a water container, since normally you would have to carry that along “extra.”

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      Hi hope this works out well for you Melissa! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  7. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    Do I love this clever set up? Yes! Yes I do! Thank you for a great review of a great product. And I love your painting of the cosmos, Jessica, and of the peaches. Yes I do.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      Thanks so much Sharon. Always a pleasure hearing from you! 🙂

  8. Katrina McMinds 6 years ago

    The piggies on the “spaceship” made me Laugh so loudly while waiting in a long line for breakfast this morning 😂 Thanks for the review, I was thrilled when I got home to find my own portable painter waiting for me!

  9. YesterdayAfter 6 years ago

    Great product review Jessica and your “Nerdsville” did bring a smile!!! I always love all your reviews! 😉 <3

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      Hehe, thanks Carolina! Yeah, I’d like to think I spend more time in Funkytown, turns out I hang out in Nerdsville more 😉

  10. Sandee Setliff 6 years ago

    OMG, I don’t need it but I totally want it anyway! lol

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      Hehe! Thanks for leaving you comment Sandee, it made me smile.

  11. Cuyler Buckwalter 6 years ago

    I just ordered a Portable Painter Palette and am looking forward to using it. I was thinking Blu-Tack or some other poster putty would help secure the pans. Is there a source for empty pans that you’d recommend? (I may have more paints than pans and would like to swap them out from time to time)

  12. […] and listen to the stories of the world so I grabbed as few tools as possible – a pen and a (very) small watercolor kit, and a sketchbook – and began to wander around in the world. I sit in restaurants, enjoy a glass […]

  13. Ilene Richardson 2 years ago

    Although your review was some years ago, I just found it and loved it. Of course I ordered one of the Portable Painter palettes and some extra paint wells. I saw a hack on another site that made the brush holder area into more paint wells! I surely will be doing that when it arrives. Your blog is so informative and enjoyable! Thank you Ilene in US, Virginia eastern shore.

  14. Ilene 2 years ago

    Double sided sticky dots, or rectangles are easily purchased online at Amazon (or locally from craft stores) in many sizes, and they’d be perfect for this palette. I use them all the time for a million reasons. I just purchased the Portable Painter palette and am thrilled to have joined your blog! Your reviews are amazing and so is this Portable Painter Palette. I was so excited to have it that I also ordered the Mini version for use with a limited palette or some extra colors to have with me. Keep blogging! 🙂

  15. De 6 months ago

    Great review and know its several years past but I wanted to confirm I’ve had a Portable Painter’s Pallette and the mini for many years. I think it’s one of the BEST designs. I carry it everywhere I go. They also now have designed a few new pans that fit in the brush holder slot. Also use a Camptime Roll-a-chair that gives wonderful back support and extremely lightweight. Thanks, Jessica!

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