How To Make a Compact Travel-Ready Watercolor Painting Palette

By Adriana Guidi in Art Tutorials > Painting Tutorials

Nowadays, nearly everyone carries a lot of stuff, all the time. Which means we’re always finding new ways to carry that stuff. . . and the bigger the solution, the better.

Well, not always. Not for artists, anyway.

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Sometimes you have to pack light especially if you’re on a budget,on the road, or traveling abroad. Maybe you’re not going to be doing much art as you travel, but you still want a small watercolor kit for quick loose sketches.

The thing is, most watercolor kits and palettes are big. I know; I have my share of them. You’d think this butcher tray would be all I needed:

But no, I still have to have the plastic palettes with the color wells and separate mixing areas, too.

And I love using them when I work at home, on a big table. But when I’m on the road, something small (so it doesn’t take up too much room in my bag) is exactly what I need. Which is why I’ve started creating my own, very compact travel kits.

Here’s how to make your own:

Collect a few mint or candy tins (you can get these at Trader Joe’s or wherever) to use as a closeable container.

Then the next time you buy a pack of bottled water, keep the small plastic caps from each bottle.

You’ll also need to pick up a magnetic roll from the craft store—basically a thin magnetic strip with adhesive on one side.

To assemble your compact watercolor palette, cut a small piece from your magnet strip, peel the paper off the adhesive side and stick it to the top of a bottle cap.

Then flip the cap over (open side up) and set it in your candy tin. The magnetic side will keep it stuck to the tin, making a perfect little well for your paint.

You can add as many as will fit into your tin, depending of course on the tin size you choose. For the palette part (where you’ll mix your colors) just attach a piece of plexiglass to the lid side of your tin.

And that’s all there is to it!

The end result is a compact, travel-ready painting palette which costs—at most—a couple bucks, and definitely fits anywhere.

Hopefully this quick DIY palette will make your load a little lighter the next time you’re looking to pack a few art supplies. Enjoy, and happy painting!

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