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You want to “have a go” at watercolors….so maybe think about starting with a watercolor pan palette.
Here you are: busy with a full-time job and a family to raise, struggling with the wish for “something more”, “something mine”, maybe a little creativity to brighten life’s spaces. Or you are refiguring your life, have time that is now yours, and “always wanted” to learn to paint… maybe watercolors.
A great way to jump-start your creativity is to buy an inexpensive watercolor pan palette and a sketchbook or bullet journal that can handle water.
Don’t let the self-doubt creep in ….
Very affordable, watercolor pan palettes are fun to
- Just add water and let the fun begin!
- Embellish your day planner or make a beautiful watercolor bullet planner.
- Record your the seasons and the “stars” of your garden.
- Play with drips, splashes, and runs of color.
- Pack when you travel or tuck into your pocketbook because pan palettes are the perfect size.
- Share with children (especially when you trapped somewhere)
Concerns about Pre-filled Palettes
Before I review the loaded, ready-to-paint watercolor pan palettes, you need to know that all of these palettes
- paint more opaquely than my favorite watercolor tube colors (link to my favorite tube colors).
- Appeared to be less saturated than my tube colors
- most had nice covering power
- lifted well and
- painted well
If you already know that you want to paint with more transparent and saturated properties of the watercolor pigments, buy an empty watercolor travel palette and squeeze your favorite tube colors into it.
Here are my favorite tube colors.
Empty Watercolor Palettes:
- Blick Plastic Folding Palete Box: ($4-7)
- Schmincke Empty Watercolor Tins and Pans ($36-51)h
- Martin Mijello 18 well watercolor palette (approx $10)
- Shy Watercolor Palettes:
- Winged (deep well) watercolor palette (approx $50)
Review of Filled, Ready-to-Use Watercolor Pan Palettes:
I used the watercolor backyard bird templates to “paint out” the palettes described here.
- Reeves Palette Pocket Set of 12 Pans — This set has
- 12 half-pan watercolors in a convenient, pocket-sized, white plastic box.
- hinged lid used as a palette.
- Colors include White, Light Yellow, Yellow, Green, Light Green, Blue, Violet, Orange, Red, Burnt Sienna, Black, Burnt Umber.
- The paint in this palette is thick and juicy.
- Applied thickly, the paint has a fair amount of opacity to the colors.
- This set has no cobalt turquoise, so to come close to my favorite color, I used the blue and white instead.
- Because the colors are fairly easy to lift, edges can be manipulated and softened.
- Approx: $10
Hummer #1 (“Over my Shoulder”) is painted with the Reeves Palette.
2. Sakura Koi Pocket Field Sketch Box Set of 12 — This compact set
- has 12 assorted half-pan colors.
- It comes with a refillable 4 ml water brush, and a sponge.
- Again, you can use the mixing wells in the cover.
- The set measures 4½”H × 3½”W × 1″D and weighs 4 oz.
- The colors include Chinese White, Cobalt Blue Hue, Crimson Lake, Deep Yellow, Ivory Black, Lemon Yellow, Light Red, Prussian Blue, Vermilion Hue, Viridian Hue, Yellow Green, and Yellow Ochre
- Again these are thick rich opaque colors.
- Approx $15
Hummer #2 (“Little Guy”) is painted with the Sakura Koi Palette
- I tried the 8 pan set.
- The pans offer good-sized pans of juicy paint.
- However, the eight color set that included a yellow, orange, red, brown, green, blue, purple and black did not make color mixes that I like.
- The set is extremely affordable.
- lid can be used to mix,
- and is very transportable.
- This set might be perfect to over wash ink drawings in bullet journals but I couldn’t get a painting with the color in it that I like.
- I will gift mine to a lucky child.
- Approx $5
- Twenty-four brilliant pans of watercolor are neatly stacked in four interlocking trays.
- trays are topped with a crystal clear plastic lid that can also be used as a mixing tray.
- Each tray measures 3-1/4″ (8 cm) in diameter. The individual watercolor pans are each 7/8″ (2 cm) in diameter.
- Colors include Paris blue, light carmine, dark yellow, burnt Sienna, white, black, orange, light vermillion, carmine medium, pozzuoli, light ochre, lemon yellow, gold ochre, grass green, light green, olive green, dark green, ultramarine dark, ultramarine light, cobalt, grey, burnt umber, natural umber.
- The stackable wheel is easy to carry and the lid can be used to mix.
- Approx $7
Version #2 (loosely painted) Bluebird is painted with the Koh-I-Noor watercolor wheel set.
5. Paul Rubens Artist Watercolor Paints-Glitter Solid Colors-
- Pink Portable Metal Case with Palette-12 Color Set (amazon)
- Hummingbirds are perfect for experimenting with the glitter watercolors.
- This set contains artist grade vivid colors including Pearl Silver White, Interference Yellow Deep, Royal Gold, Interference Orange Deep, Wine Red, Rose Red, Symphony Purple, Interference Blue Deep, Fruit Green, Luster Blue, Glitter Red, Glitter Purple.
- The glittering effect is achieved by pre-mixing with IRIDESCENT medium.
- These colors are beautiful and rich.
- Approx $50
6. Niji Aquarelle Watercolor 36 Color Pan Set
- This watercolor set is visually stunning.
- It could be included in any photo layout for watercolor paints.
- No list of colors available
- This set suggests using the clear lid as a mixing surface.
- The paints are matte, opaque, and more vivid, than the other sets.
- Thick paint is easily to painted over.
- The color selection is great.
- Especially noteworthy are the beautiful orange-pinks, rich emeralds and cobalt turquoise.
- Approx $7
I love my empty Shys Palette filled with my favorite watercolor tube colors.
However, the inexpensive beautiful colors in the Niji Watercolor Palette are really fun to paint with. Stretched for space, I love the Koi watercolor set. Plus, it includes a convenient water-brush.
Since I have been known to paint with my morning coffee when I don’t have water, this little brush, pre-filled would be great to have in my backpack.
Lastly, the glitter set is a wonderful kit to embellish special pieces. Add a little sparkle to a card for a friend!
Try some of these palettes and let me know what you think!
Remember our promise
- Clear set of instructions
- Access to materials that you fit to your personal budget
- While you learn, make something useable.
Read my evaluation of watercolor papers, sketchbooks and journals here.