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.
So 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.)
I 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.
So 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.