Art Haul: Starring the Portable Painter

So, I saw a quick preview of the Portable Painter on The Mind of Water Color's YouTube Channel and basically immediately ordered three of them from the Indiegogo project in early December. It did take a while to get them, they're not mass produced (yet), and mine just recently arrived. I think these will be a hit.

Basically, this is a portable watercolour palette that holds 12 half pans (set comes with 12 empty pans for you to fill), 13 mixing wells in three sizes, a portable double ended brush, and two water cups that double as the case. The brush is pretty unique with a small #2 round that fits in the end of the #5 round, reversed out when you're painting, suck inside when you're not. Pretty clever design, as is the whole palette to be honest.

Opened up and assembled, you can see that the lids from above attach to the palette and lift it. The design allows for you use it on a solid surface or to place it on your knee when painting en plein air or in some other location where you don't have a surface to necessarily place it. It fits nicely on my leg, but the practicality of that will depend on your leg thickness.

The lids/cups are also designed with a notching feature that creates a great resting place for brushes as you go. The attention to detail here is pretty amazing really, you can tell that this was designed by somebody with excellent design skills and who also paints!

It's not all perfect, though... A couple of small "complaints" if you will:

First, the clasp for the lid has nothing to attach to when the palette is open and so you really need to be careful where you put it when out and about.

Second, the half pans do not fit very snug and are prone to easily falling out. I initially considered not using them since the palette has distinct reservoirs for each half pan, but the brain said that the advantage of using them is you can swap them out. I decided to use them, but used some Blu-Tack on the bottoms to give some grip. Mind you, I have a feeling that I probably won't be swapping any colours out.

Now that I have new palettes, I needed to fill them. While I do have some Winsor & Newton tube paints in a fairly large variety, I wanted to build out a good basic set of cools/warms/earths from a different brand and so, I decided to give Sennelier a try. These are highly regarded paints from France that are readily available here in Canada through DeSerres.

So, to fill this palette, I went with: Lemon Yellow (PY3), Yellow Lake (PY150), Ultramarine Light (PB29), Pthalo Blue (PB15:3), Cadmium Red Light (PR108), Alizarin Crimson (PR209, PY83, PR179), Burnt Umber (PBr7), Raw Umber (PBr7), Yellow Ochre (PY43), Burnt Sienna (PBr7), Sap Green (PB29, PY153), and Green Earth (PBr7). The thing I'm still trying to wrap my head around is how many of these are made from the same pigment source! Four different colours are being made using PBr7 (pigment brown 7: iron oxide) in various forms.

Needless to say, I did swatch them all. As usual, I like to keep an ordered swatch card with any of my palettes as it's a very handy reference for what the base colours will look like on paper when dried. Hopefully the palette will have sufficiently dried by tomorrow so that I can take with me on a short work trip.

While I'm at it, I also picked up some Moleskine watercolour journals (5.5" x 3.5") for travel too. The size is well nigh perfect really, about the same size as the Portable Painter, but half the thickness. All in all, a pretty compact set to come together I think.

On the Moleskine, it's 25% cotton, 135lb cold press and seems pretty sturdy from cursory examination. There are 60 pages and you can use both sides, so quite a lot of paper to work with here. I did another swatch out there of the Sennelier colours just to see how the paper feels and, well, I really quite like it. Swatches aren't a real strong test of durability for the paper, but they do you give you a feel for the brush movement and such and it felt good.