My new pocket palette

This is not a review. I just haven’t used my new palette for long enough to be able to review it. But I’m excited about it, so here goes.

I did not need a new palette. But I’ve wanted the Pocket Palette for a while now, just because it is so beautiful. And I got one along with a bunch of extra pans in different sizes so I could customize it. Most people tout how small and lightweight this palette is. Totally true, but my bag holds 3 sketchbooks (including a large hardbound Stillman & Birn Beta journal) so the size and weight issues of my kit are not going to be solved by my palette. My current palette is pretty small as is. See these side-by-side shots of my regular palette and the new Pocket Palette. The new palette is much lighter and slimmer and smaller, but my old palette isn’t very large to start with.
palette-play8babSo I thought I’d put my pocket palette to use by using it in addition to my old palette, to try and focus on something different.

I played with different configurations for a while…

And then I decided to build a “modified split primaries” palette. When in need of anything watercolor-pigment-related, I start at Jane Blundell’s site. I didn’t want to buy new pigments, though, so I drew what I could from her split primary recommendations and then substituted with colors I had. (Note: For a more exact and thorough understanding of pigments and primaries, use her site, not my colors.)

Here’s my palette. 3 cool primaries. 3 warm primaries.(including a color called Permanent red that I received as a sample and have never used before… but it looks warm enough ,so in it goes.)
thinking_paletteI work a lot on location and one of the things I find most frustrating about a primary palette is how much mixing it takes me to get to dark tones. So I threw in 2 little pans of ‘cheat’ dark neutrals to help get my mixes there quickly: Payne’s Grey for cool darks, and Sepia for warmer ones.

Here’s the obligatory color wheel done with the colors. The colors at the bottom are the darks mixed by adding dark neutrals to the 3 color mixes.

These are my first little studies done with the color palette.

It’s really obvious to me from the color wheel and little studies that getting a range of colors out of the small primary palette is not a problem. And with the addition of dark neutrals I don’t spend forever mixing either.

But there is one problem I didn’t anticipate when I filled in a tiny palette with a limited number of colors: Mixing space. The less pigments you start with, the more mixing space you need, or you end up with mud on your palette really quickly. See the mixing space (below) on my palette after just one tiny painting? One idea I have is to go back to the original little pigment holders for my colors. That would leave me a little less than half the palette space empty, and if I filled it in with empty pans, I could use that space as color mixing space. If you have other suggestions that don’t include carrying an additional palette, I’d love to hear them.
palette-play5So do I think I will carry around this little palette in addition to my regular one? I think so. Using a split primary palette forces me to think of color quite differently form my usual palette. It makes me think more of the mixes that are in a color I see and them temperature of the color, both of which are good for me to focus on.

But most of all, like I said at the start, it’s a beautiful little palette (You can get it here), and it’s a real joy to handle. And that, I suspect, more than anything else, is why it’s going to stay.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in Drink, Everyday Sketches, Food, supplies, Supplies and Materials and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to My new pocket palette

  1. D. Abreu says:

    Great information Suhita, thanks! And the links are great as I am learning about color the hard way 🙂



  2. Great painting of the glass!
    What I did with one of my metal palettes is used a silicon glue to create raised lines to make wells on the lid.. let it dry overnight and you can make as many as you like. And I am pretty sure you could scrap them off if you change your mind..


  3. It’s so informative to read how you pack art media. I’ve seen a few photos of you walking as you sketch. Not sure I could do that but I admire that you can. Do you use water from a water bottle? That seems like a “duh, yeah” question, but I’m asking anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon, it’s fun to walk/sketch, give me a more fluid narrative: I don’t expect to produce the same sort of sketches when I walk-draw as I do form a single viewpoint: I will usually collage little vignettes on a page when I walk. Standing, however, is pretty easy , especially if you set down your kit, wedge your sketchbook against you and don’t mind that you end up with a messy shirt form all the watercolor drips 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have the same problem with using a limited palette. I have considered carrying the coated metal lid of a jar as an extra palette space because they are lightweight, small and make pretty decent little palettes but currently just bring plenty of tissues to clean the palette space frequently.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Suhita, I have two “Pocket Palettes.”

    I use one to bring white gouache with me without having to have it in my main palette where I have found it impossible to use without contaminating the rest of the palette (which is important to me because I favor transparent paints in general). In that palette I have the gouache in a square pan so there’s greater ease with dipping my brush in (rather than the smaller pans which come standard with the pocket palette), and I fill the rest of the palette with two things: the large rectangular pans which I use as mixing pans, and a piece of sponge which I’ve cut down and wedged along the bottom edge of the palette, and which I use for a quick and easy way to clean off my brush.

    I use the other sometimes as my only palette. In it I have often just one dark color (e.g., indigo) plus extra pans for mixing, and I use this on days when I want to play with value and not tempt myself to get into lots of colors. But I also use this palette for other types of play with limited sets of color for value studies, for example a pair of complementary colors. I also sometimes set this palette up with highly granulating paints (e.g., lunar black) that, like with gouache, would mercilessly contaminate my main palette. I have squeezed my favorite paints into the small pans that came standard with the palette, and it’s a lot of fun to switch them out on the fly, as I’m leaving the house on any given day.

    I love your blog. Thanks for it.


  6. Melinda says:

    I had an art teacher that used plastic sour cream lids for mixing. They’re light and cheap.


  7. Pingback: Fun with Topiary | Sketch Away: Travels with my sketchbook

  8. Elaine Pang says:

    What if you change your technique to wet in wet mixing on the page?


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