Palette Watercolor

Pocket Palette

In this post I’m sharing the tiny but mighty Pocket Palette from Expeditionary Art — I purchased it in January to take on a month-long road trip from here in Austin, Texas out to Joshua Tree and back with the thinking that it would be great to take on long hikes. I wanted to keep my pack light yet still be able to sketch — and I’m happy to report that this palette never let me down. Maria shipped it super fast, too!

Even if you’re not a hiker or going on a trip a small palette is still super handy to have as you really *can* throw it in a pocket and always have it with you — the Pocket Palette really does live up to it’s name! And the best palette always is the one you have with you.

I’ve been using it almost every day since I got back because I wondered how long those pans would last — turns out that after 3.5 months of pretty much daily use it’s still going strong:

My Pocket Palette after 3.5 months of use. I usually sketch in an 8.5×5.5″ or 3.5×5.5 inch sketchbook to give you an idea of the size of the sketches.

This configuration of the palette has 13 colors plus two mixing areas, but of course since the palette is magnetized you can set it up however you like.

I did a ton of research trying to decide what colors to take with me as we were going through the high desert and I’d never been there before. When I first made this chart I “only” had 12 colors in the palette, but just look at the range it has! Talk about mighty!

Twelve color Pocket Palette mixing chart on Fabriano Artistico paper folded into a book that I keep in my sketch kit.

I took tubes of paint and kept them in the car in case I had to refill at some point but it turned out that I didn’t need to — turns out it holds more paint than what you’d think!

Speaking of filling the pans — if you’re all thumbs like me then it really helps to have a magnet to help hold ’em while you fill ’em:

I use this magnet that I also use with my MISTI tool.

Here are the colors that I finally settled on for the trip — I think of this as my “winter desert palette” and I’ll probably reconfigure it I when I finally use this paint up.

All colors are by Daniel Smith except for Winsor Orange which is by Winsor & Newton. I added purchasing links to these where possible: AZ = Amazon and and EH = Ellen Hutson. These are referral links so if you make a purchase by clicking the link I’ll receive a small commission at no charge to you — thank you!

  • Naples yellow [AZEH]
  • Hansa yellow medium [AZEH]
  • MA Sienna  [AZEH]
  • Winsor Orange [AZ]
  • Pyrrol scarlet  [AZEH]
  • Sap green [AZEH]
  • Cascade green [EH]
  • Phthalo blue  [AZEH]
  • Indanthrone blue [AZ]
  • Quinacridone rose [AZ]
  • Transparent red oxide [AZ]
  • Ultramarine blue [AZ]
  • Managanese blue [AZEH]

These colors ended up being great for the desert and moutains, yay! Winsor orange and pyrrol scarlet were kinda redundant so I may replace one of them — the Winsor orange is the color I added at the last minute and it’s not in the mixing chart above. Also just had to say that I’m really loving the Naples yellow. Kinda thinking I should have a larger pan of ultramarine blue hmmm. It’s never ending but all part of the fun ha!

Here’s a half-inch flat brush and small pan for comparison.The smallest pans in the palette work fine with a 1/2 inch flat brush and my pocket Isabeys (find out more about my brushes here).

I haven’t had a single problem with the pans moving around or shifting, as they’re made of metal and secured by a magnetic sheet that runs the whole area of the palette. The palette has been along on many rocky and windy hikes and I even dropped it — oops.

One other nifty thing about the pocket palette is that you can use a binder clip to attach it to your sketchbook and sketch standing up.

Here are just a few shots of the palette in the wild:

  • Indian Blankets for Days! St. Edward's Park, Austin, TX

So many good times! Can’t wait to see where this lil palette and I will go next. Also just had to add that there’s something about doing a sketch — even if it’s a quick one, it makes me feel more connected to the land and whatever I’m sketching. Looking at the sketch brings that moment back in a way that a photo never does for me. Even if the sketch doesn’t turn out how I’d like, it’s still a worthwhile experience.

Thank you so much for joining me in the Ode to Small But Mighty Palettes — please let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to check out Sandy’s post for her small and mighty palettes too!

Want more?

  • Check out my main palette here — this is the palette I use at my desk and I like to take it on short hikes as well
  • My chocolate palette has all handmade watercolors — some made by me :)
  • I also have a fun prickly pear palette with NEON watercolors — they always make me smile BIG
  • Visit the Expeditionary Art website for more about the pocket palette — Maria has been to some amazing places as part of her work and her paintings are so beautiful. I’d love to take a cloudscape workshop with her someday. You can also follow arttoolkit here on instagram — I love seeing how others use this palette!

Update! I switched things up to add 2 more mixing areas to the palette — find out more in this post.

8 thoughts on “Pocket Palette”

  1. This has so inspired me to sketch on my hikes! I have a group of friends that I hike with 3-4 times a year and I’m not an artist but I can see how just attempting to capture the beauty in paper wouldhelp you enjoy it more! Thank you so much for this post 😁

    1. Hi Christy! It’s so true — just attempting to sketch something makes it more meaningful and I love flipping through my sketchbook and remembering all the places I’ve been. Happy hiking + sketching!

  2. I am one of those hiking friends mentioned by Christy :). We have dabbled in watercolor and she sent the link to me today (while I am at the beach – wishing I had a very portable set!) sooooo – got it all ordered and can’t wait for our next adventure!

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