Yesterday I decided it was time to tune up my watercolor travel palette.
Before the Fair this year I took pan colors off two squarish palette boxes (Schmincke). I consolidated some of the pans into a smaller palette I could use at the Fair—I wanted to carry as little as possible.
Since the Fair I keep forgetting to put my favorite colors back into one box. I find I miss colors when I’m sitting at home sketching, typically at 10:30 p.m. when to go get more colors in the studio would mean walking by the bedroom and waking Dick up.
Yesterday I was clearing off my work table and the two loose boxes were staring at me in a sort of accusatory way.
I cleaned both palettes and put one away empty. I consolidated colors into the remaining squarish palette box of 28 colors.
Yeah, lots of colors, but if you look at the color swatches you’ll see why.
This is the palette of an artist who sketches chickens!
You can see details of the messy boxes on my instagram feed @RozStendahl. And if you would like to modify your Schmincke palette box in the same way, or in a couple other ways.
Minutia about the Palette
Sepia isn’t a color I’ve ever had on a travel palette. (At least I don’t recall it being on one.) I have been doing a lot of monochromatic sketches so I threw it on the palette.
If it bothers you that I have some warm colors and then a cool color and then more warm colors just know that when you have that many reds or oranges it helps to separate them in a way that you can tell them apart when looking at the dry pan. (Sometimes the non-wet color is difficult to “read.”) Since I change my palette frequently I find these visual cues help me. In a palette that I’ve actually been using for a long time color arrangement might indicate that I pried out one color and put in another that is not really “in order” but it saved reorganizing the whole palette. (That’s not what’s happening in this palette.)
Of course the really fun thing about this, or any of my palettes, is to look at it after I’ve been using it for awhile—especially if I’m starting with all fresh pans (I’m not with this palette). After a month or so you begin to see which colors I really need to have with me! Happily factory made pans don’t have a shelf life and they are happy to migrate from palette to palette.
Some colors keep coming back because I love how they mix with others, or I love how they granulate (Cobalt Azure).
Since I am not hiking across the wilds of Canada carrying everything I need to be self sufficient I don’t really see the point to weed these down. When I reach for the palette and start to paint the color plan is already in my mind.
What’s Happening with the Third Row of Swatches?
I just realized I didn’t mention anything about the third row of swatches. You’ll see that it seems to be a strip of watercolor paper stuck down. It actually is. While painting the third row I allowed myself to be interrupted by a phone call. When I returned to the process I inadvertently started with the wrong color 4 swatches in.
Normally I’ll just do a two-pointed arrow indicating the need to flip colors to reflect how they really sit in my palette, but on this day I redid the entire row on a separate piece of the same watercolor paper and then pasted it in place.
Since all my tape masking for the main chart and the insert were done by eye there’s a size difference with the third row. It doesn’t bother me a bit—because when I was finished I went straight to painting. That’s what matters.