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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Modified Watercolor Palette

I’ve always liked to take things apart (disassemble). When I was a kid... if I really liked something I took it apart. Why? I wanted to know how it was made. And yes I always put things back together. I have continued my fascination with how things are made into adulthood. But now I usually take things apart to see how I can make it better.

I’ve modified most of my art supplies: Sketch-Bag, sketchbooks, brush holders, pen holder, a few easels…and lots of palettes.

I get lots of questions about my sketching palette because it looks
different. I modified it, too. The palette goes by many names but the same thing: Heritage, Alvin, Mijello. It’s a great palette but lacks an area to make contained puddles for washes.

Palette: 18 well folding
Trays:  3 inch Triangle Bead Trays, plastic (easily found on internet search)
Glue: Gorilla Glue or Epoxy 
Sandpaper: Fine Tooth/Grit

Clean the inside of the palette surface and allow to dry.
Use a fine grit sand paper on the bottom of the trays for better adhesion. 
Use a small amount of glue on the trays and put into place. 
Leave palette open over night to dry.

Step-by-Step VideoModified Watercolor Palette. If video doesn't play click this link: Video

And what would a palette be without paint? Here's my Dot Card of paint choices. I use Daniel Smith Watercolors. In my sketch palette you'll notice I've added Green Gold and eliminated Phthalo Blue (GS). These colors are on my studio palette which has more wells. Wish I could send everyone a Dot Card but I only have enough to cover workshops...sorry. 

Daniel Smith Watercolors 

Green Gold (not seen on card)
Hansa Yellow Medium
Raw Sienna Light
Quinacridone Gold
Permanent Yellow Deep
Anthraquinoid Scarlet
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Quinacridone Rose
Imperial Purple
French Ultramarine
Phthalo Blue GS
Cobalt Blue
Manganese Blue Hue
Cobalt Teal Blue
Phthalo Turquoise
Green Gold
Phthalo Green (BS)
Quinicradone Burnt Orange
Transparent Red Oxide (or Burnt Sienna, Winsor & Newton)
Lunar Black
Lavendar (not seen on card)
Buff Titanium (not seen on card)


  1. Thank you so much for this info, Brenda....I watched your terrific and informative videos from Spain and couldn't figure out how you had created the wonderful triangles on you palette...I've now ordered my own set, and the PTO as well. I am so MUCH looking forward to your workshop at Cheap Joe's in August!!

    1. Kathy, Can't wait to meet you at Cheap Joe's!

    2. Hi kathy and Brenda! I'll be at Cheap Joes as well! Kathy, where did you find the trays? Having trouble tracking them down except from more obscure vendors. Thanks! See y'all soon! Cindy

  2. Thanks for sharing these great ideas! I've got that watercolor palette, and those triangles are a great upgrade. Those watercolor paint tube organizers - brilliant! Guess I'll be going shopping again!

  3. LOVE your extra watercolor puddle idea!! :)
    Great DYI to make your palette more useful.

  4. Brilliant ideas, Brenda! Thanks so much for sharing. Can't wait to try them.

  5. Brenda, Like your idea of adding the bead trays for additional mixing in the the palette. Does the height of the bead trays protrude above the surface of the top lid. All the bead trays that I have looked at are much heigher than the the depth of the lid.

    1. Trays are perfect height and don't protrude above the inner height of the lid or interfere with the original design of closure, seal...

  6. Brenda, I followed you here from The Painter's Key. Your art is exceptional. Your blog is fun and informative. I like the idea of customizing tools. I'm glad I found you. Regards, Jim

    1. Hi Jim!
      Thanks for your nice comment. Robert Genn's, The Painter's Key is a voice for so many of us. He was gone too soon but he does live on in many ways through his letter and wisdom. I hope my blog and writing will also inspire and encourage my fellow painter too.

  7. Brenda, what colors do you mix for your beige spectrom? And, more specifically, what colors do you mix for stone structures in France/Italy?

    1. Nancy, I don't have a formula mixture for stone structures. But I'd try something like ochre or raw sienna with a touch of lavender to dull the yellow.

  8. I love my PTO that I won at one of your workshops last year! I have now ordered a palette similar to yours (different brand, otherwise exactly the same) and some bead sorting trays, so I'm looking forward to customizing this for field work.

  9. Is this class good for a beginner.

    1. Christenna, I teach numerous kinds of workshops with different skill levels...You didn’t specify which so I can’t answer your question. Visit my website for a listing.

  10. Brenda, thank you so much for showing us the paint tube organizer. That is exactly what I need and I ordered one right away! So far you have prompted me to make my own watercolor sketchbook, now this...I wonder what will be next. Thank you!

  11. Great tip on how to keep up with the paint. Thanks. Those paint tube holders are going to be in my mailbox SOON!! And maybe some of those bead holders. Great ideas great post.

    1. Margaret,
      Glad you liked my post. It's fun to share ideas, tools and tips!!
      Happy Sketching!

  12. Thanks for giving us your excellent ideas.

  13. Hey Very Nice Blog!!! Thanks For Sharing!!!!

  14. Hi, Brenda. I recently bought the Heritage palette to keep in my kitchen for early morning journaling, but I have completely fallen in love with it! For travel and outdoor sketching, I've always used a small metal Schmincke tin that I've modified to hold 18 pans, but the wells in the Heritage palette perform so much better. I'd like to completely switch over to the Heritage palette, but it's so huge compared to my tin and I'm having a hard time imagining how I'll juggle this in the field or in my car. Any photos of you using your larger palettes while plein air sketching, or any tips? By the way, great minds think alike. :) I have the exact same large collapsable cup, also in blue, and way before I saw your photos, I had husband drill a hole in my sketching boards to hold it. When I saw your photos using it the same way, I nearly fell out! :D Thanks in advance for any tips!

  15. Great minds think alike! I use my sketch bag as a table top for sketching. It holds the palette, water and brushes��