Thursday, April 21, 2016

Palettes at Every Turn

With the arrival of spring, I'm thinking ahead to summer.  Summer in Montana and weekends in the mountains mean packing an art supply bag.  For so many years, I've been faithful to pack the supplies and hauled them with me as we traveled.  I've not spent very much time using them.  We are so busy, not taking much time to stay in any one spot for long.  There were times I made an attempt to paint for that brief 15-20 minutes.  Then it's time to pack it all up and get on with another activity.  Those camping trips were full of activity with young kiddos.  We took them hiking at 4 and 5 years old, their hooded jackets tied at their waists and a little water bottle of their own.  They loved it from the very start.  We'd stop to dip our toes in the lake or stream, such icy cold water.

Several cameras have been taken along to record it all.  I've been watching for the art reference photos and the priceless family memories at the same time.  Now, they're teens and needing to take their own photos.  Whether it's on a cell phone, tablet, iPod, or an actual camera...we are all taking our share of photos.

My fingers are itching to start packing it all up again!

Last summer's art supply bag and gear.

Here a palette, there a palette, everywhere a palette!

One of the key items I'll pack in the art supply bag is a watercolor paint palette.  I was thinking about purchasing yet another new palette for travel when I realized I have plenty of palettes.  Digging through cupboards, I gathered them all up.  I chose three to clean up, removing old dried paint, and they are like new again!  I found my travel palettes and am considering using them this year.  They are stocked with plenty of watercolor pigment.  One needs to have the mixing area cleaned.   For some reason that I cannot describe, I am not comfortable using them.  Maybe it's just because I haven't had a lot of time using watercolors while we are away from home.  It's an awkward, unfamiliar experience.  I always long for my big palette.

Travel Palettes

The Rembrandt travel palette is a mix of luxury and space-saver.  It's petite paint pans and travel paintbrush are tucked in a sturdy case.  The navy blue velvet bag just tops it off!  I've used it a bit as you can see.  This was a pricey little bundle, purchased before children...  I'm looking forward to having the time to break it in soon.

The metal travel pan came empty and I filled it with the pigments years ago.  It has a thumb hole and is easy to position on my forearm.  In the past, I have not painted while standing but it would be a great habit to start.  I'm not sure I'd still choose the same pigments.  I've got a better understanding of pigments now.  When I filled this, I selected pigments on a whim.  Adventurous and spontaneous, I didn't conform to the all the standards recommended.  There are several in the metal palette I might not select this time around.

The plastic palette was another attempt to find a way to be comfortable painting in nature.  It's got more room for pigments than the Rembrandt and takes up less space than the metal case.  This one has a thumb hole.  It also has smaller holes to hold paintbrushes.  Here again, I'm not so confident about my pigment choices but I think it would be a fun challenge to make them work!

Studio Palettes

So, take a look at my usual "Old Faithful" palette.  It is the oldest one I own and has been well used and abused.  It's had cracks repaired with hot-glue seams.  It mixing area is still a mess!  All those areas of mixed pigment...instrumental in completing many paintings!

Now here's a look at the one that replaced it and you'll see a lot of similarity.  This style of palette is my go-to standard routine for painting with watercolors.  With large wells, plenty of pigment means less interruptions with making refills.  The center mixing areas are roomy and the lid doubles as another mixing area.  Labels for the pigment wells make the mixing easier.  Whether labeled with a permanent marker or a label maker, it's worth the time.

Yet More Palettes

Some palettes I use for more pigment that won't fit on my main palette.  You're probably thinking this just sounds crazy.  It's really not that crazy at all!  There are core pigments needed for the best mixing results.  There are other pigments that aren't needed very often.  They are needed in select paintings, depending on the color scheme.  The pigment names are written on with a fine-point Sharpie marker.  When it's time to clean off the writing, a magic eraser does the trick!

In the past several months, I've changed my method for single pigments that are used less often.  Small plastic cups with lids are perfect for keeping pigment.  The name of the pigment is written on the lid with permanent marker.  My work table is crowded enough most of the time.  These little cups save me from needing to make room for another palette.

The other three palettes are clean and white!  The enamel butcher's tray has a lid.  It works best for mixing up a large puddle of watercolor pigment.  The two plastic trays have plenty of areas for mixing while keeping mixed pigments separate.  I think taking one of them for travel would be perfect; the mixing areas in the travel palette is extremely limited.

I may not have convinced you it's necessary to have this number of watercolor palettes.  Or have I?  Aren't they wonderful?  Just to me?  Aren't you at least a little tempted to purchase yourself a travel watercolor kit?  They are such a treat!  I'm sure there must be some way to pack a small bag of art supplies.  I haven't been able to manage a small bag in a long time.  How do I choose what to leave behind?  I'll compile a basic list of items to take for art in nature and share in the next few weeks.

If for some crazy reason, you're been searching for a watercolor palette like one of these... just ask me for more information.  It's been a long day so I'm not going to be super descriptive with specific brands and links.  You want any of that, just comment and I'm glad to help!

Thanks for letting me show & tell today with the palettes...
let me know what you're curious about related to watercolor art!


she must make art.

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