Watercolors For Painters On The Move

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With summer in full swing, I thought I’d tell you about a nice, compact travel watercolor palette and paint set.

I was all set to start touting the wonders of a pricey, top-of-the-line professional watercolor set. Then it dawned on me; when you’re out plein air painting, you’re dashing off sketchy impressions of light and mood.

You’re not doing a masterpiece. You may not even be painting anything that will be completed. These may be sketches for potential paintings or the beginning of work that will be completed back at the studio (or kitchen table.)

Why do you need a costly set of paints for this type of painting? I couldn’t think of a good answer. If you’ve got a budget that allows for the more costly sets, that’s great – go for it. But most of us don’t have the discretionary capital to invest in expensive extras, so I’m changing tack. I’m going to tell you about a swell portable watercolor travel set that won’t put a big dent in your budget.

But first, let’s discuss the differences in quality.

The Difference Between Professional And Student Grade

There’s a significant difference between student and professional grades of paint produced by any manufacturer. However, the student version of paint from a well-known manufacturer is generally far superior to the least costly paint you find at a craft store.

Costs are minimized by using less expensive ingredients. Some pigments are very costly in their original formulations, but modern science has introduced less costly alternatives.

A lower concentration of pigment, supplemented with a higher ratio of filler is another way to reduce costs. By doing this, the paint doesn’t have the richness and intense characteristics of professional formulations.

Student grade paints feel different when using them. Artist quality paint has a richer, more buttery consistency compared to less costly paint.

Higher end student quality paints are usually superior to inexpensive paints made by craft-quality manufacturers. These craft paints are fine for kids, craft projects and other temporary uses. However, the small additional cost of switching to a well-known student grade paint is relatively small and is well worth the added expense.

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Sketchers

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Sketchers Pocket Box ASIN: B00004THXI

This handy little travel set is perfect when you want to do some outdoor painting but don’t want to lug around a ton of equipment. Filled with half-pan cakes of Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolors, the self-contained box is a mere 5.5″x 4.25″x 1.5″ when closed and 5.5″x 7.25″x 1.5″ when opened. It has a slot to hold the pocket size paintbrush that’s included in the package, and the lid can be used as a palette.

The colors included in the set are:

  • Cadmium Red Pale Hue
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Intense Blue
  • Emerald Green
  • Sap Green
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • China White

That tiny, 5.5″x 4.25″x 1.5″ size will fit almost anywhere, so you can carry your equipment wherever you go. The pans are refillable, so when you’ve used up a color, you can replace it. The watercolor cakes are open stock, so you can purchase the same colors or different hues as you deplete your paint.

The container closes securely, but it’s not airtight or waterproof, so make sure you don’t have water remaining in the paint or palette when you’re ready to close up shop.

The paintbrush is minuscule, but it depends on what you’re painting as to whether you need other brushes. The virtue of the brush is that it fits in the box. You’ll enjoy using this compact and lightweight little kit for sketching on the fly or impromptu painting sessions when you’re traveling. Just add water (and paper) and you’re all set to go.

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