My Favorite Paint Box Is Back—for a Limited Time

August 13, 2011

See the post for complete details.

SCHMINCKEHALFPANTIN Left: Schmincke Horadam IAMART Limited Edition Half-pan Tin with 12 Colors. See the post for full details, if you click on the link in this caption you'll go right to Wet Paint's web page for this item.

I like to use a small and compact traveling palette. I always have my tiny kid's palettes (in which I fit 11 colors of either gouache or watercolor) with me. But sometimes I need more paint and for that I have two squarish Schmincke tins that I just love (one for gouache and one for Schmincke pan watercolors. (See a selection of my palettes here.)

I've really beat "the-you-know-what" out of my tins. And once I almost lost one of them. I tried last year to buy a replacement to have on hand, just in case I lost one. The tins were no longer available.

Well, that's no longer the case. For a limited time you can get this half-pan tin, with 12 Schmincke Horadam Pans at Wet Paint. I'm not overly fond of the 12 colors of paint that were selected for inclusion, but that's always the case with any set. At this price the tin is worth it ($59.95).

I happened to be in the store earlier this week when the shipment arrived and they brought a tin over for me to check out. I went on quite a rant about the colors (everyone laughing and laughing—they know I'm not dangerous), but of course I caved and bought one. I need the darn can.

I wasn't going to post about this palette box until next week. I had hoped to test out the colors a bit first: lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, cadmium red light, permanent carmine, ultramarine finest, Prussian blue, phthalo green, permanent green olive, yellow ochre, English Ventian red, sepia brown, and ivory black.

Black? Really?

However, I decided to post today because already two friends have told me they have purchased a set and Wet Paint is heavily promoting them on Facebook with words like "limited" and "while supplies last." I don't know how large a supply they have, but I would hate for them to evaporate before I write a post about the can. So if you're on the fence you might want to jump down and get one of these—even if you later purchase additional pans and switch out a lot of the colors. (Which I've already done. See the note below.*)

The great thing about this can is that you can fit another row of 6 half pans in without even trying. And if you have the ability to or are friends with someone who can cut through metal, you can trim the inner metal plate on which the pan holders are attached so that the top row slides over, allowing you to wedge in 6 additional colors held in place by the tension of the last row and the edge of the box. Then you can get 27 half pans in your box (which is what I do for my gouache palette visible at the top of this photo—3 rows of 7 and one row of 6 half-pans).

Speaking of gouache, you can of course buy EMPTY HALF-PANS and insert them in the extra space and use your favorite tube paint or tube gouache (if it rewets well; see my two part post on tubes vs. pans starting here). Then you can continue to use some of your favorite tube paints right along with your new favorite Schmincke paints! Wet Paint sells the empty half-pans too.

At first I was a little annoyed at the fancy photo of half-pans on the top of the tin. Now that I've stopped ranting and hyperventilating I'm actually happy about the decoration. I can tell my palettes apart at a glance.

At any rate, if you are looking for a hearty 5 x 3-7/8 inch metal palette (closed) for pans now you know where you can get this handy little palette. (There's a thumbring on the bottom of the box to aid in holding it while you work.)

(Usual Disclaimer: I am not connected to Wet Paint in a fiscal fashion and have nothing to gain if you purchase one of these. I also have no knowledge of how limited the supplies are and whether we'll ever see these tins again, or see them return at a later day—change in art supplies, as in life, is constant.)

*While I have already purchased new colors to customize my box, I don't recommend you do this. In fact I think it might actually make you a better person to just use the colors the box comes with for a bit and see how you like them.

But I don't have time to become a better person and I love Schmincke's pan watercolors. I also know someone is sure to ask, so yes, I removed some of the colors that came with the set. Then I purchased additional colors. My box now contains the following: lemon yellow, translucent yellow, yellow ochre, translucent orange, permanent red, permanent carmine, English red, translucent brown (I've been looking for an excuse to try out this color), quin violet, indigo (have to have my PB60), ultramarine finest, cobalt turquoise, permanent green, permanent olive green. I'll also put in a zinc white or titanium white pan from my other box depending on what I feel like using on the day.

My changes are predicated on the fact that I don't care for the cadmium colors, I love translucent orange, and I can't live without Indigo, cobalt turquoise, or quin violet. But that's just me. After you've used your box for a bit you can fill your extra row with colors you can't live without.

  1. Reply

    I don’t understand what you do to add another row of color in your boxes. Beside which, I think it is interesting that reds. yellows and oranges seem to take up more space in (most certainly) my boxes, than blue and green. Great post, Roz, Thank you.

  2. Reply

    Now, that is an awesome pan!

  3. Reply

    Suzanne, I like your no-cutting metal way of altering your box. I originally did it that way (without the tac—my pans just wedged in nicely and didn’t seem loose), but Dick saw it and asked if he couldn’t modify it and since he can cut metal, why of course I agreed.

    As for buying sets—well I’m notorious for buying sets just to get the can/tin/box. My white plastic palette in the photo of my palettes is actually a set that came as Cottman colors and as W & N. I bought the Cottman set and tossed all the colors and filled it. So I spent $17.95 for the box (the cost at that time, whereas the same box with the artist grade paints was $75). The box has been with me for 15 years or more and held up really well and I think that’s a great deal.

    Original empty boxes of the type described in this post cost me $30 some years ago, so again, I think the box, even at $60 is worth it. But then I’m already used to working with this type of box and it isn’t a risk for me to get it. I know it’s going to work for me.

  4. Reply

    Melly somewhere there is a post on this, but darn if I can find it and I’m due at a sketch out.

    Simply put, if you look in the box you’ll see the metal retainers that hold in the paint pans. Those metal strips (you can see the center strip of metal unused in this post’s photo) are attached to a metal plate, NOT the bottom of the box. This metal plate lifts out.

    So if you lift the metal plate out and then along the same direction as the rows are running (horizontal just like in the photo above) if you cut away about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch of the metal plate along that edge (and it has to be the narrowest edge, because you’re trying to get that top row of paints closer to the top of the can) when you reinsert the metal plate into the box and push it to the top edge (possible because you cut some of the plate away there) you now have extra space below the third row. That space will be just enough to take another pan height, and so fit another row of pans in your box.

    Now because the box has curved corners at that point you’ll only get 6 more pans, but that’s 6 more than before, so…

    Suzanne’s comment above, about simply using the box as is and wedging in 5 pans so that their greatest dimension is horizontal instead of vertical (hence you only get 5 not 6 pans in the space) is a great way to go if you don’t have access to metal cutting tools or people.

    Have fun with your box.

  5. Reply

    Oh, Melly I forgot to comment on your comment about the predominance of oranges and reds in your box.

    I think it really varies from person to person. Some people gravitate to cool colors others to warm.

    For me, the colors in my box usually relate to what I can do with their complements, near complements, or any triad I might want to use. Additionally if I’m going to paint plants I will take certain colors. If animals, certain other colors.

    My large (large as in the sense that it is larger than my mini palettes that are converted kid’s palettes, but it’s just one of the ones pictured in this post) gouache palette has a lot of reds in it because when I started it I wasn’t sure which reds I would like to keep using and I’ve never taken the time to edit it down. Though I’m happy to say that I’ve finally settled on certain reds I like and the others will be coming out next time I update the box, to make room for other things.

    As for Oranges, I think everyone likes to have certain go-to colors and for me an orange while you can make some good mixtures with red and yellow, is never as vibrant as when an actually orange. And let’s face it there are not many oranges on the planet as WONDERFUL as that translucent orange of Schmincke’s. (I love what it does when mixed with my range of blues.)

    In my gouache box I have seven blues and only 3 reds (two of which I no longer use and which will be replaced at the end of the summer, at least one pan of which will be a new blue). I do have two magentas which I frequently use as reds. I like cool colors.

    But I do need my oranges, and of course a couple yellows.

    I love narrowing it down and going out with only 3 to 6 colors. Something always comes up where you “need” one of the colors you left behind and it’s a great way to force yourself to find new approaches.

  6. Reply

    Roz, I just found your blog a few days ago and I have to say a huge “Thank you!” right off the bat, b/c it is chock full of great information. I’ve read this post, your palette post, and your pans vs. tubes post, and they have been very helpful to me.

    I’m currently using a Cotman set and was planning on trying DS tubes as the pans in my current set run out. But after reading your posts, I think I’m going to try Schminke instead. I really love the convenience of pans, but I thought I was stuck going with tubes if I wanted better quality. (And of course the swatches on the DS site are so tempting!) But I really think pans are a better fit for me right now. So thanks for educating me, and I look forward to reading much more on your blog!

  7. Reply

    Oyy, I did not realize that the “fancy” photo of half pans was the actual top of the tin. Now I would definitely never buy one, but this was one great review nonetheless. It’s not like I need another watercolor box, but was slightly tempted when i first got the e-mail announcement.

  8. Reply

    Isn’t it funny how that kind of thing matters to us? I hate that photo on the tin, as well. I just want something plain and simple. It’s just funny how the packaging really helps or hinders our desire for the product!

  9. Reply

    Arika, if you’re going to go with Schmincke pans, please note that the Schmincke pans DO NOT FIT IN THE WINSOR & NEWTON BOX! (Or in the Cottman box.)

    I use Daniel Smith Watercolors in my repurposed Cottman (I feel like there should only be one t in Cottman so forgive me for not looking it up) box because I pulled out the colors but retained the Pans that came with the box, because they fit in that box.

    W&N of course has made their Cottman and W&N artist grade pans the same size so they are interchangeable. But if you are going to use anything else in that Cottman box you’ll need to save those empty and cleaned pans and fill them with tubes.

    If you’re going to use Schminke pans in a Schmincke box, no problem. And those pans by the way also fit in the empty boxes that Daniel Smith sells.

    I have not made a study of pans (empty ones available for sale) beyond that so I don’t know if there are other brands that are still other sizes and don’t fit all boxes.

    It’s much like the early days of railroad with no standard gauge.

    But then of course why should a maker create a uniform size pan? Then, as in the case of W&N you have to buy their product.

  10. Reply

    Alberto and Arika, I understand your aversion to the cover decoration. In my case I’d rather have this box, hideously decorated, than not have this box at all.

  11. Reply

    Roz, thanks for the info. re: the pans not fitting! This gives me more of a reason to think I should go ahead and get the the box you’re recommending in the post…good price and limited time only gets me every time!

    • Anon
    • August 16, 2011

    Can you really make goache pans by letting the tube goache dry, just like you do with WC? I’m sure I’ve read before that this is a no-no.

  12. Reply

    Anon. Yep you can—ONLY if you use gouache paints that rewet well. Not all do. I write about this a lot (gouache) on my blog and about this aspect. Use the search engine of my blog to find gouache related posts, or click on gouache in the category cloud (though that will get you a ton of posts that just have an image used with gouache so I’d try the first method first). And also search for my PALETTES, as those posts tend to mention the types of paints I’m using. Also look in the category cloud for “Project 640 Tubes.”

    I use Schmincke and M. Graham brands of gouache and both rewet well for reasons I mention too many times to count.

    Have fun.

    • BJ
    • August 18, 2011

    Great post. . . I called some stores near me and one is getting those in next week! I’m on the top of the list to be called when they come in!!! TY

  13. Reply

    Hi Roz… I just happened to get this box when in london recently… it was on sale at an unbelievable price. I haven’t had a chance to load it up but it is a wonderful size. Enjoy!!! Thanks again for your amazing blog… I read it all the time and get so much out of it!!

    • Jill
    • September 1, 2011

    FYI regarding empty pans. I ordered the Schmincke box when Roz mentioned it and it just arrived yesterday. I also ordered the empty half pans. I had a bag of Daniel Smith empty half pans that I was going to use to make an Altoids palette when Roz’s post came up. The Daniel Smith pans fit in BOTH the Schmincke AND the Winsor Newton Cotman box. Granted my Cotman box is old but is basically the same set up as the new ones. Another added bonus is the Daniel Smith pans are $3 for 10 vs. .70 each for the Schmincke. You may need to put a spot of double stick tape on the bottom of them to keep them from wiggling, but if you have both boxes, they are a great way to go.

    • Jan
    • September 3, 2011

    Roz — First, thanks for all the time and effort you put into this blog. It’s my bible.

    Next, I see here that you “put in a zinc white or titanium white pan from [your] other box depending on what [you] feel like using on the day.” What kinds of circumstances call for which white? Is one more suitable for mixing? Is one better suited for stand-alone highlights? How do you chose between these? Which on-the-fly sketching moments call for which white?

    Thanks again for everything! Jan

  14. Reply

    Jan, thanks for your kind words. I use both whites for different things and somewhere there is a post that covers a lot of this (or so I thought) but Lijit search engine isn’t working this morning—it won’t even find things I know it’s found before. Sigh.

    Basically think of the two whites in the following way:
    zinc white (which was once called China White) is warmer in temperature and is translucent in covering capabilities. Think of the lovely Turner sea scenes in watercolor where he used zinc white throughout his painting, or many of the 19th century British watercolorists who worked directly into a ground of first applied zinc white, like Hunt.

    Titanium white is a more recent pigment and is cool in color temperature and more opaque in coverage.

    As to when you might use either of them—well I make my students do a lot of exercises to try them both out so that they can find out how they handle and what they might be good for.

    Ninety-nine percent of the time I go out into the field I only take zinc white. It will suffice. If I’m going out with the express purpose of doing close ups of animals I will use zinc white because I think it has interesting characteristics when creating realistic eyes.

    Which after all is the purpose of portraits.

    If I want a lot of coverage or I want to make pale tints with a lot of coverage then I’ll take titanium white with me.

    But those are just some of the examples of how I work with the paints. In a pinch I’ll use either and make it work.

    If you want stand alone highlights your best bet is to use Dr. Ph Martin’s Bleed Proof White or Dahler-Rowney’s ProWhite. Both are extremely opaque gouache in a jar, traditionally used for all sorts of illustration needs, including covering up problem areas.

    Hope this helps, experiment, experiment, experiment.

    • Jan
    • September 8, 2011

    Excellent, Roz. Thank you. That’s a clear and complete explanation. Result: I’ll put a pan of Schmincke zinc in the palette and tuck away a small tube of titanium into the recesses of the sketch bag. And off I go! (if it ever stops raining, that is. The “Mid-Atlantic” states are slowly becoming Atlantis. Next up: locusts. — sigh)

  15. Reply

    Jan, sounds like you’ve got a good plan. You might also want to experiment with different brands, both of watercolor and gouache, as everyone seems to formulate it a little differently and by experimenting you can find just the right white of each type to suit the way you work.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with so much rain and hope you don’t go on to locusts (though they can be fun to sketch). We have had the wettest summer I can remember up here in MN and since the weekend we have had WONDERFUL DRY DAYS that are in the 70s and 80s and it is sheer heaven. We have to make the most of these days before the rain returns, and of course, before the winter arrives, but for now it is the weather that I love, and feel we earned after all those wet and humid days!

    Hope you have some good sketching weather soon.

    • Karen
    • June 14, 2015

    Hello Roz, I just bought my first Schmincke watercolourset with 12 half-pans (I used tubes before). My question is a simple one: how do I attach the pans in the kit so they won’t slide from left to right or even fall out… Like I said, I’m a beginner, there’s even a first time for filling a watercolour kit… 😉
    Hope you will see this and can help me.
    Greetings, Karen

  16. Reply

    Karen, if it’s the Schmincke box like the one in this post, or one of the other’s they make, then you should be able to FOLD DOWN the metal tabs that stick up on one side of each channel that holds the pans (there are three of these in the above).

    Unfortunately the above is a new box from the factory and doesn’t show this.

    You could look at my photo on this post

    There are two Schmincke boxes in that photo, one top left, one top right. You can’t really blow it up enough to see what’s going on clearly, but esp. in the one on the right you can see the tabs are bending down over the pans.

    If you have EMPTY half pans, I recommend you fill the half pans (1/3, 1/3, 1/3 allowing for drying time in between each 1/3) and then put them in place and fold the tabs down. OR you can put the empty half pans in and fold the tabs down and then fill them. I find it easier to do the fill first.

    Don’t try to bend the tabs over on pans that are still “fresh” or you’ll get paint all over yourself.

    In recent boxes (I just bought two new boxes for different selections) I find the tabs are sometimes harder to bend down, you may need to use a tool to push them, something flat and metal.

    Hope that helps. Have FUN!!!!!

    • Karen
    • August 13, 2015

    I forgot to thank you, but I DO thank you a lot! 🙂
    I’m enjoying my new watercolours. And you’re right, they needed a good push. I was afraid to break the tabs but that didn’t happen :).

  17. Reply

    Karen, I’m glad that worked out for you! Happy painting!

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