Sunday, August 17, 2014

Custom Watercolor Sketch Kits

In the 1830s, J.M.W. Turner carried a watercolor sketch kit in a wallet. "It's a simple leather case with gauze that Turner would have literally stuck the pigments onto," says Julia Beaumont-Jones, Collection Registrar for the Tate Britain.

Some of you have been sharing the amazing sketch kits you've made.

Joe Ongle says: "This is my custom Altoids mini palette, using self-hardening clay and tube watercolors. Half pans work as well."

Chuck Pell says: "My kits are compact for pockets, using custom leatherbound archival sketchbooks and repacked watercolor chips...."

Michelle Spalding made one from a mint tin, "with a retractable cosmetic brush - keychain size with half-pans"

Carlos Huante adapted a cosmetic style brush kit. "I bought this set for 40 bucks back in the day and use it all the time."

Carole Pivarnik made one from a Hello Kitty tin: "It has just three primaries: perm yellow, magenta, and cyan. It uses water bottle caps for pans. They are essentially free, hold a generous amount of paint and with less adjacent edges than rectangular pans, there tends to be less color pollution. A little blue tack holds them in place. I would like to add a dollop of neutral tint in one corner for faster mixing of darks but I can mix just about anything with these three colors. I carry this tin, a mini waterbrush, a mini black Sharpie, and a short HB pencil in a little pouch. Very portable!"

Have you made an unusual watercolor kit? We'd all love to see it. Please share yours with a link in the comments.

Plus: I'm honored that Marc Holmes of Urban Sketchers wrote a review of my DVD "Watercolor in the Wild."


Tascarini said...

I made the altoid kit but wish it had more mixing space.

I bought your videos and they are great. I have a question about your watercolor pencils though. I'd like to try the portraits and am wondering what pencil colors you use in your kit. I always want to bring the whole set and it's really too much bother. Thanks.

Carole Pivarnik said...

Thanks for including my little kit, James! Making them can get to be a bit of an addiction. I would like to know what 5 or 6 watercolor pencils you find indispensible in combo with your watercolor pigments. I keep finding myself torn between same or similar colors as my pans or altogether different ones for widest possible variety.

Anonymous said...

To Tascarini:
Cathy Johnson adds another lid to her mint tin palette for more mixing space. Here is my version:

My smallest kit:
The palette is a pencil case.

I have a album on flickr with my experiments in watercolor kit. Many of the ideas were gleaned here on this blog!

Long time reader but this might be my first comment here!


Anonymous said...

Forgot to add:

THANK YOU for the image and link to the Tate and that wonderful 1830's travel palette.

I'm preparing to be an interpreter at a local 1850's fort here and I'm going to demonstrate period travel sketching! Building a period appropriate kit has been a challenge.... but I could MAKE one of those!


James Gurney said...

Redharparts, I love your flickr set, with all the construction details of the mint tin case. Also, you bring up a good point, which is that you can fit 24 half pans in a 12 pan small metal set by removing the inner clip frame and putting the half pans in lengthwise.

Carole and Tascarini, In my pencil box I have more or less the selection of Caran d'Ache pencils that I listed in the "Watercolor in the Wild Materials" post. Then, if I'm in the middle of an impromptu portrait, say in a restaurant or a bus, I'll reach for three or four, with an ochre, a red brown, a black, and maybe a blue. So, for example, the Caran d'A #053 Hazel, #065 Russet, #155 Blue Jeans, and #436 Black.

In a pinch, you could do a portrait with just black and russet, for example:

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

I love making my own, and buying watercolor palettes… here's a link to some of my homemade ones..

Dan said...

Capt Elaine Magliacane, the SD card palette is practically microscopic! Did you use it for actual painting?

J. Bustamante said...

Hey everyone! I use a very similar set to the altoids one, except i use water bottle caps to hold my pigments. I made a video if anyone is interested here:

Obviously I was inspired heavily by this blog and all you're comments!


Kurt Ankeny-Beauchamp said...

I recently made a watercolor pochade that I think will work well. It's made from a Japanese pencil tin that I bought about fifteen years ago. It measures 21 x 10 x 2.5 cm, which is just enough to fit the short handled watercolor brushes. I enameled the inside of the top lid for a mixing area. The wash pans and watercolor pans each have a disc magnet epoxied to the bottom, so they're all completely modular. I can mix and match which pigments I want to take with just by clicking them in or out. The tin fits eight watercolor pans along with three double-sized wash pans and still has room for three brushes to lie flat in the leftover space. To keep the brushes from mashing their hairs, the tips of the handles were dipped in Rustoleum's magnetic primer and then in spar varnish. This keeps them from sliding into the end of the tin. It's all kept shut with a file rubber band, this green one claims to be made of a material that is more durable and will last longer. Current pigments in the set are: Cad Yellow, Cad Lemon, Cad Red, Quinacridone Ruby, Ultramarine, Cerulean, Burnt Sienna and Payne's Grey.

Photos here:

Unknown said...

I used the travel Schmincke palette and removed the metal plate. Then I glued the pans directly into the palette. Instead of only 8 1/1 pans I can use 12. Very compact and cheap!

I made a short video of it:

Alanti said...

This is my travel kit