Sunday 2 March 2014

Travelling light with colour

There are so many ways you can carry some colour with you when you are out and about. Some are so light and slim you can have them with you all the time. Others are more suitable for a planned painting kit. I have a set up for both - a portable kit I keep in my handbag and a more comprehensive kit that I take with my on planned sketching trips or travels. Here are a few ideas...

Coloured pencils - you can have a few coloured pencils with you in a small pencil case. Make them watercolour pencils and take a water-brush and you increase your options immediately.

Use water-colour pencils to make a tiny colour palette in the back of a sketch book on on a separate sheet of watercolour paper. Carry a travel brush or water-brush with you and you can wash in some colour with ease.
  • A water-soluable pencil palette
    Just a touch of a brush gives you a wash of colour.

You can buy paper impregnated with colour from Peerless, who have been making their transparent watercolours since 1885! The sheets were originally designed to tint black and white photographs. They can be cut up and stuck onto a paper palette, into a sketch book or a piece of plastic film.
Peerless transparent watercolours made into a palette. The colour has been washed in behind, then plastic contact applied, then the dark Peerless colours pasted on top.

Daniel Smith make 'try it dot' kits with many of their colours. You could make your own tiny palette with a drop or two of your favourite tube watercolours on a sheet of watercolour paper or plastic. Allow to dry and slip it into your sketch book.

Daniel Smith Try It Dots.

Or you can buy or make up small a travel palette with your favourite water-colour paints. Buy the half pans or buy empty pans and fill them from your own tubes.
Pocket palette made in Italy from This little cutie is painted black on the outside and has a thumb-ring. It is set up with 12 colours but 15 can be squeezed in with a bit of a fiddle :-)
Tiny hinged tin with 6 full pans.
An Art Basics 12 colour half pan palette with 14 colours and a Pocket Palette with 14 colours, all set up and ready to go.   The one on the left has a thumb-ring on the back. 
Update 21/6/2014: The colours in both of these are my suggested 'ultimate mixing colours' - Buff titanium (Daniel Smith), Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold PO49 (Daniel Smith), Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Crimson, Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine, Cerulean Chromium PB36, Phthalo Blue GS, Goethite (Daniel Smith), Burnt Sienna PBr7, Raw Umber PBr7 and Jane's Grey, which is a custom mix of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine. You can see this palette painted out on my website here. Available for AU$65 plus shipping if you want one from me filled with artist quality colours.

Small tin with 12 half pans.

There are a number of other small portable palettes for watercolour, or you could have one hand-made in brass like this one - my travel palette, which is lacquered brass and has a thumb-ring on the other side

There are so many ways to get some colour into your sketches and still travel light. 
Happy sketching!


  1. Love your blog! Thank for sharing your excellent work.

  2. Would you mind listing the 14 colors you have in your travel palette?

  3. Hi Annie. I have added all the colours and also another link to my website where you can see them all painted out. I am using this set to create another book that shows the amazing mixing possibilities with this limited palette. All of the colours are available from Daniel Smith, some ONLY from Daniel Smith but most of the others could be from other manufacturers. I have specified brand or pigment numbers where important.

  4. Hi Jane, thank you for such a great blog post! I have a palette fetish :) What is the brand of your last palette? Where did you get it from? I'd love to get one with a thumb ring that size.

    1. Hi Aggie. I have linked to John's website elsewhere - that gorgeous little palette was made by David of is another wonderful brass palette maker too. Happy palette hunting!

  5. Thank you Jane :) . I already have a few palettes but like many other I would just like a few more! hehe :)

  6. I can't believe I never thought of making my own dot cards for traveling! That's brilliant, and I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for all the tips. Especially the watercolor pencil one.