Portable Painter Watercolor Palette

The opening photograph for this blog post was stolen from the Portable Painter website.  I hope they don’t mind.  It shows my new toy, but before I put paint into it.  It also shows the 12 half-pans that come with the palette that makes it very quick and easy to get started using it.

Steve Padden (designer) launched this product as an Indigogo project (like Kickstarter) and I ordered one immediately.  The Portable Painter website has a great video and I encourage you to watch it if you’re even a little bit interested in moving your paint on location.

This is what mine looks like once I put paint into it.  The half-pans that come with the Portable Painter fit loosely into their compartments and because of this I felt it necessary to anchor them in the box so they didn’t fall out if I turned the palette upside down.  I used little bits of double-sided tape for this and that seems to work well and because it’s so thin, it allows the half-pans to sit well in the case.

Normally I don’t talk about products I haven’t actually used on location but “use” when it comes to a half-pan palette is more about set up and take down than about actually using it for painting so I feel a bit more on solid ground here.  Sliding the two water containers off the case and clipping them to the ends is very quick and easy, as is reversing the procedure.  The mixing areas are similiar to others I’ve used.  I’ll take a brite-boy to those before actual use but they look great and provide about twice the mixing area of the Cotman Sketcher palette.   The one thing I would have liked to see is a place to put the metal clip while you’re painting.  It becomes an odd-man-out while you’re painting.

While I haven’t actually painted from it, I did drape it across my leg as shown in the video and that works very well.  Right now my water comes from a small bottle I hold in my hand so the two water reservoirs will be a nice improvement.  The kit should also work really well if I’m working on a flat surface as it’s quite stable with the reservoirs as feet.

Those of you who use the Cotman Sketcher palette, and there are a lot of you, this is a major improvement because of the water reservoirs and larger mixing areas.  This comes at almost no size or weight costs.  Here are photos comparing the Cotman Sketcher to the Portable Painter, with and without the water containers attached.

I’m not sure about current pricing of this item.  While its retail price is $30, it looks like you are still be able to buy it at a discount from the Indigogo launch site like I did.  The Portable Painter website will direct you there so if you’re interested, now is the time.

12 thoughts on “Portable Painter Watercolor Palette

  1. I saw this when it was launched on Indigogo, but since I’m not doing much watercolor lately, I didn’t bite — it does look quite cool, though! A great design. Will look forward to another review when you get around to using it in the field.

    • Hee hee. You mean I’m supposed to ask “Do I need this?” before buying something? I must have missed that memo. Truth is, I’m pretty happy with my metal box and right now I use its metal-ness to connect it to things via magnets. I can also cram a few more colors into it. Still, I’ve used the Cotman Sketcher box a lot and this seemed (and is) an upgrade to that. BTW, enjoying your new fascination with pointy sticks. Following closely.

  2. Mine came in I think last week. I figured out a way to keep myself from losing that sliding metal piece while palette is in use. I stuck a camera lens cap keeper on mine with a hook I can attach to a belt loop or loop on my bag. Now I just need to load mine up and use it 🙂

    • That’s a good idea, though doesn’t that mean that your kit ends up tied to your belt loop when it’s packed up? I was thinking that a small piece of velcro on the side of one of the water reservoirs and its opposite on the clip would be the answer. We’ll see.

  3. Mine arrived. I have not had the chance to play with it. I got it for $23.00 so thought it was a good deal. I will try it this summer. Reading with interest how folks have tinkered with it.

    • I played with mine this afternoon and confess that I’m so used to working with a single bottle of water that I don’t know what to do with the second reservoir 🙂 Works really well, though it didn’t improve my skills as a watercolorist (grin).

  4. I saw that product and worried about it a lot. I read few reviews but i think this one is best because of this comparison. It’s nice to see that new palette with my regular and favourite W&N Cotman palette. I think this dimensons are perfect for a 12 half pan palette.

    • It seemed appropriate to compare it to the Cotman Sketcher palette since it is so similar in size and so may people use the Cotman kit box. For myself, I prefer an open box without the compartments for the half-pans so I can stuff a couple extra colors into it but you’re right, for a 12-pan box, I haven’t seen anything better. Used the brush today and for a synthetic, it’s pretty nice, though considerably smaller than what I normally use.

  5. I too bought into this early on (after you mentioned it !) and it arrived last week.
    My first thought was that little clip was going to get lost pretty fast but I like the velcro idea.

    The little brushes were a nice surprise.

    Now it sits waiting forthe procrastinator in me to decide which colours to use in it !

    Enjoy the day, I think you have some wintry weather coming from Guelph (no need to thank me)


    • Hi Alan,
      Procrastination is good if you call it “thinking about it” or “planning.” As for colors, ignorance is a powerful tool. I just use the ones I always use because people like Jane Blundell or Liz Steel tell me to 🙂

      Now…about that storm…

      • Larry, I got a Painters Palette after Susan Bronsak posted about it. I’m using your velcro idea for the fastener. We’ll see if the velcro pieces stay on all right. As to color choices, I’m much like you and use what Jane or Liz tell me to! I put in Jane’s “starter Urban Sketcher” 12 choices, except I didn’t have any Hansa Yellow Deep so substituted Quin Gold. Now they are drying and tomorrow off on a trip…

        • I’m fairly confident about the velcro, though I admit I haven’t done it yet. I’m enjoying having the palette sitting on my desk, ready for use at a moment’s notice. Of course, any palette can serve that way but for some reason, this one seems better in that respect. I know some stuff but it’s certainly not color. Yellows are the worst for me as everyone seems to use different ones.

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