Sunday 8 January 2023

Whiskey Palettes

The Napoleon, set up with 12 half pans

I wrote about the Whiskey palette - my favourite half pan metal  palette - along with many of my other palettes in 2016. I also showed a couple of variations on my website here. This is an interesting range to show further, and I'm delighted to have been sent a few new versions to include here.

The first is the smallest -  The Napoleon - the classic 8 or 12-colour version, in a stunning vermilion, set up with the 12 half pans. These 3 x 4" metal palettes are available in matt or gloss black, matt white (snow) or vermillion red. It can be set up as an 8-colour palette with storage if the middle 4 half pans are not inserted.

The two mixing areas are nice and deep and there is a thumb ring on the bottom. They also come with a protective pouch.

The two placement arms lock the half pans in place.

There is also a 'Naked' version available in matt black or white that has nothing inside, making it possible to put in 15 half pans. I had previously done that by removing the insides (not an easy task!) to be able to fit in my Ultimate Mixing Set so this is a useful option. So many artists like to customise their palettes and this allows them to do so. I used 15 Cotman half pans to set up this palette, putting magnets underneath, but the Whiskey half pans will also work. I used this little palette when creating my online course Mastering Watercolours as it didn't take up much room on the video.

There is quite a history to the Whiskey palette, and there are some available with an integrated water container such as the Scottie. I filled a version of those with 18 colours. This is still only 3x4" but with welded metal pans holding about ¼ of a pan of paint. You can see the lid to the integrated water container, with the removable water dish attached. When closed, this water dish locks over the bottle cap.

There are also collapsible water containers harking back to the original secret whiskey painters society, who's members painted miniature watercolours with shot glasses of whiskey since water was scarce. I haven't had a play with these but they look very cute!
This larger palette, a variation on the XII, has room for 12 colours and quite a few brushes and pencils. Shown here is the collapsable synthetic brush that is small enough to fit into the 3x4" whiskey palettes above. This palette is also available a 'naked' version, with no insides, to give full flexibility. That could hold an assortment of half and whole panes with or without brushes or pencils. 

There are many larger palettes available, some holding half pans, others with room for full pans, some that hold tubes. The largest is the Multi Palette that has a flexible layout and comes with 48 stainless steel extra large steel pans. They cost a bit more than plastic palettes and are a little heavier, but they are thoughtfully designed and a great option for those trying to avoid plastics.

Happy painting.


  1. Hey, Whiskey Palettes are one of my favorite palettes. I had been looking detail for these for many months Finally i got it today. My search ends here. Thank you for sharing this helpful post.

  2. Hi Jane, I recently bought a Fome watercolor box (16 half pans version) and I’d like to know if you have yhe same problems with the pans moving in the top and bottom compartments. If so, do you stick them to solve the problem? Thanks in advance for your reply!

    1. I broke the separators off and put 9 half pans in each row. They don't move anymore.

  3. I used this box with water container, which swollen and the case didn’t close anymore:( I’d recommend not to store water there for a long time and be careful

  4. This is a great article about the Whiskey Painter palettes. I have one of these and enjoyed it until I decided to find a similar sized palette that would allow me to carry 12 full size pans and 4 half pans (the 15 from your Ultimate Mixing Palette and a convenience green). I tweaked the colors a bit. I removed Jane's Grey (since I can mix it so readily), changed Ultramarine to French Ultramarine (Schmincke), and added Undersea Green and Perylene Green. I mix my own sap green (Liz Steel's mix of Schmincke French Ultramarine and DS Hansa Yellow Medium). I still use Jane's Grey in my studio palette.

    The story behind the Whiskey Painters is awesome! What a great group of artists. I hope you manage to enjoy their gallery of art when they have a show. Amazing tiny works of art.