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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. 


  1. Brenda
    November 6, 2011

    Great blog! I doubt I will ever stop collecting palettes either…it's too much fun!

  2. Judy Schroeder
    November 8, 2011

    And after all…it's cheaper than jewels!

  3. Sadeu
    January 29, 2012

    have a great blog, Judy : )
    I have several boxes, my favorite is the box to deposit water.


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