Sunday, October 30, 2011

Watercolor Musings: Travel Materials for Painting - Palettes

Watercolor Musings: Travel Materials for Painting - Palettes: Finding the right palette for your travel painting is an enjoyable quest. I'm not sure I'll ever settle on just one since I confess to...

Travel Materials for Painting - Palettes

Finding the right palette for your travel painting is an enjoyable quest. I'm not sure I'll ever settle on just one since I confess to having an ongoing love affair with containers that hold paint. I've arranged the palettes I use in order from the smallest to larger ones. There is also a wide range of cost from nearly nothing to just about as much as you'd ever like to spend. Mine are on the more economical side.
Two Altoid boxes, a plastic palette and my newest in the foreground from W & B Painters Products

The palettes above are so small that they can fit in a pocket, a purse, a glove compartment etc. The smallest Altoid box has 2 water bottle caps for paint and I use a warm brown and ultramarine blue. Those 2 colors make it easy to get a range of values and are much more interesting than gray or black. The more usual Altoid box holds 6 water bottle caps and I usually put in the primay and secondary colors although any combination of colors can be used. The top right is a tiny plastic palette I've had for years and the last is my newest find. It came from an art supply store in Portland Maine, my most recent trip. As you can see, I haven't even filled the palette cups yet. Using this size palette means also painting in a smaller size or using the color to augment line drawings. But the advantages are clear and you are never without tools! I've been too many places without my gear and wasted time trying to find something to use. I don't let that happen anymore. 

These are boxes I found in a drawer. One was from a pen and the other used for some other packaging. I tried to see how many caps I could put in for a larger palette and you can see how adaptable they are. The advantage is the cost. By using a found box and water bottle caps you minimize the cost of the palette. Then you fill with your favorite paints. The caps can be affixed with tape or in the case of a metal box the magnetic strips with one sticky side work very well. 

On the left is a palette from Winsor Newton and the right from Rembrandt. 
These are palettes that had the paint included when I purchased them. The Winsor Newton travel box includes a waterbottle and water cup. It folds all together into a nice compact package. The Rembrandt palette is lovely to use. The paints seem to moisten up easily and it's still a smaller size.

Empty palettes from Schminke and Holbein. I filled them with paint. 

The next larger palettes hold much more paint and have large mixing areas. These I use when I'm carrying larger papers and when I'm on a painting excursion. I can get quite a large wash done with these and they still are neither too large nor too heavy to be comfortable to carry. 

These are just a few examples of palettes suitable for travel. You will be able to "see" possibilities for all sorts of solutions once you really begin to look. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Watercolor Musings: Travel Materials for Painting on the Go - Part I

Watercolor Musings: Travel Materials for Painting on the Go - Part I: Yes Books Portland, Maine I recently returned from a short visit to New England with several college friends. One of my c...

Travel Materials for Painting on the Go - Part I

Yes Books  Portland, Maine  

I recently returned from a short visit to New England with several college friends. One of my classmates is beginning to paint watercolors and asked me for a list of my preferred materials. That question was the prompt for this blog.

In recent years there has been an explosion in travel palettes and sketching materials. More and more people are including a sketchbook in their vacation packing and the variety is enormous. It is helpful to define what you want to accomplish…or attempt to accomplish. I always think I can do more than I ever get done.

These questions will hopefully help you in the planning stage.

  1. Are your travel-mates artists? If so, then leisurely stops to gather images are not only possible but desired by the entire group. If not, then you will have to be creative to grab sketches as you travel. Stopping for a coffee, for a meal, sketching while others have a tour, etcetera. All the foregoing are opportunities for drawings.
  2. Do you want to have a travel journal including sketches, tickets, descriptions, ephemera, etc? Or is this a sketchbook that is mostly, if not only, about gathering studies for future paintings? It can be something in between or entirely different. By deciding what you want to do with the sketchbook, it will help you choose the size and style.
  3. Do you want a portrait or landscape format? I love to do wide landscape sketches when the opportunity comes along. With a portrait orientation I choose a different approach. So, how do you like to work?
  4. What kind of paper do you prefer? It is possible to have any paper you normally work with and in any size and shape if you are willing to put together your own book. It is relatively inexpensive and especially so if you compare its cost with a bound sketchbook with good watercolor paper.
  5. How much gear are you willing to carry? Practice working with a very minimal set up and add whatever you cannot live without but be strict with yourself. You don’t want to be tired since you need energy to be creative!
  6. Size and weight of palette is also a consideration. For large washes you will need bigger brushes and a larger palette.
  7. Brushes. Will you use travel brushes that protect the bristles and if not how will you carry them so that the brush tip stays in good shape?
  8. Water containers for both water and for painting can be bulky. Keep your eye out for unusual solutions.

 These are considerations to ponder. I will follow up this post with others that are specific examples of the various components: sketchbooks, brushes, palettes, water containers, etc.