Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
There's NO wrong way to store your watercolors. It's totally personal preference. But if you're an art supply hoarder like me, your studio can become a MESS in no time!
And, if you're a watercolor beginner, you likely have no idea what your organization options are.
Today I'm going to show you MY FAVORITE way to store watercolors at home, and will demo the entire process so you can create YOUR OWN at-home palette if you want! Stay with me till the end for a timelapse of one of my first watercolor projects for the Celtic Collective!
*All product links are affiliate & for U.S. residents only.*
If you've been following me for a while, you likely already know that my absolute FAVORITE watercolors of all time are by Daniel Smith. These colors come in tubes instead of little trays or pans (like the Prima watercolor sets I've been reviewing lately).
I get asked all the time by watercolor beginners what the deal is with me making my own watercolor palettes. Why don't I treat my watercolor tubes like my acrylic ones and simply squeeze a little watercolor out each time I want to paint?
Lots of reasons actually!
The first one is, you can't really tell from that blob of watercolor, the color of it's packaging OR the color's individual name HOW it will actually look on paper. Watercolors can be really sneaky like that.
Take a look at the pic above again. Now look at the one below. THIS is what those two colors actually look like on paper.
Not quite what you may have expected from the darker brown, right? This happens all the time.
As an artist, I need to be able to quickly glance down at my watercolors and KNOW how they will look on paper. The only way I can do that is with a swatch card.
If I've decided to squeeze a tiny amount of watercolor out to use each time I want to paint, and decided I want to use multiple watercolors, it can be SO easy to forget which blob of color is which. Another reason why it's essential to swatch!
The second reason I don't work straight outta the tube and prefer to squeeze my watercolors into palettes is because I don't want to waste a single drop of my precious (and expensive!) watercolors.
When it comes to watercolor, we NEVER need as much as we think we do. So if you were to squeeze out a big blob of some beautiful expensive watercolor that you only needed a tiny bit of, what happens to the leftover? Does it get saved for a while, until you forget what color it was, and eventually dump it? I can't bear the thought!!
Enter, the watercolor palette solution!
As you'll see in today's video, I've tried a number of palettes over the years. The one pictured above started out as an empty watercolor tin with no little squares of color (these are called half pans).
I purchased the little half pans separately, then squeezed my colors into each pan and snapped them into place. Cool, right!?
This is an awesome way to store your colors and is very portable. You can use them at home or take them on the go like this.
An empty watercolor tin like the one above doesn't come with a swatch card for colors, so you have to get a little creative to make one of your own. Click over to watch the video to see these ideas in action.
I've also made a few palettes using full pans of watercolor, like the one shown above, left. A full pan is exactly what it sounds like, double the size of the half pan.
As you'll see in the video, I've tried everything from hot glue to magnets over the years to get my little pans to stick to the watercolor tin. They've all worked ok, but not amazingly well.
That brings me to my FAVORITE way to store watercolors!! An empty palette with built-in wells. I've actually purchased at least four of these Mijello Airtight watercolor Fusion 18-well watercolor palettes because I love them SO much!!
Cool, right?! Now I don't have to worry about my full or half pans sliding around or coming loose from the tin anymore! Perfect solution, right?!
I also love watercolor wells in a palette because they honestly hold more color than a half pan, but aren't quite the size of a full pan. The way the mixing trays have been arranged in this particular palette above, also makes it very accessible for my larger watercolor brushes! Another essential for me :)
One more little bonus with this palette, I can create my own swatch card and store it neatly behind the removable, plastic mixing tray that snaps into the top cover of this set. Awesome, right?!
I hope you find today's video helpful for considering your own watercolor storage options at home! Thanks for hanging out with me today!!
Make sure you stick around to the end to see this Spiderwick Fairy come to life for my fantasy art club membership called the Celtic Collective!
Love How I Added Colored Pencil OVER My Watercolors?
Me toooooo!! Did you know the addition of that ONE super simple art supply makes this a piece of mixed media art?! So cool, right?!
Mixed media art doesn't always have to mean doing collage and using tons of art supplies. Sometimes it's just a combination of a few art supplies.
?♀️Wondering what other art supplies go well together like watercolors and colored pencils?
You need my FREE HOT DOG PACKET! Say wha????!
It's a free 32-page PDF filled with tried-and-true mixed media art supply combos (4 supplies or less!) that my artsy friends and I have come up with together. Even better, I've got a WHOLE YouTube series all about it. Also for FREE!
Simply click the button below, and I'll send it straight to your inbox!
What to Watch Next
Watercolors also come in ready-to-use pans or half pans like the adorable sets by Prima that I've been reviewing on YouTube lately. Check out this playlist to learn more about them and which ones I love most!
What's the Celtic Collective?
The Celtic Collective is an online fantasy art themed membership that I co-host with my Scottish bestie, Lucy Brydon, over at Awesome Art School! We have an absolute blast together creating beautiful lessons of mermaids, fairies, castles, unicorns, and SO much more for our students.
Want a sneak peek at ALL the projects inside the club?! Check out our Visual Index to see what we've been up to :)
Need More Resources?
People ask me this question ALL the time, "How do you decide which watercolors to take along with you when you're traveling?" Is it better to work from tubes, pans, or to create your own custom travel watercolor palette?
Today I'm diving into ALL these questions, and can't wait to show you not one, but THREE ways to decide which colors are coming along for your next trip!
Before we continue, super quick announcement: All product links are Affiliate. I may earn a small commission if you choose to order through these links but by law there is never any additional cost to the consumer for doing so. I thank you for your support.
Some artists prefer to purchase a palette that's already been prepared by a brand specifically for travel, like the one below, from Field Artist.
Typically palettes like this come with around 12 colors in them, including the primaries, so in theory, you can mix whatever additional colors in the rainbow you'd like to!
Personally, I hate mixing colors ALWAYS and prefer to just dip right into my palette to grab the perfect color. And, I find going with a standard out-of-the-box palette like the one above ... BORING!
There, I said it!! LOL.
One of the AWESOME ways I totally enjoy choosing which watercolors get to come on a trip is by looking to my DESTINATION for inspiration! This is especially important if you plan to do landscapes and cityscapes.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. If you're headed to the beach, you'll want a palette filled with colors like this to paint those gorgeous waves, skies and cocktails you'll be sipping (or I would be sipping, LOL!).
If you're headed to a place like Iceland, you're gonna want to include cool blues and grays like this to capture the moody skies, glaciers, and seas...
Or, maybe you don't even care about colors inspired by your destination... you'd rather just bring your favorites!! That's cool too!!
I tend to do a combo of bringing my faves and thinking about colors inspired by where I'm going.
When it comes to which colors I choose or recommend YOU choose, it's personal. I'm NOT gonna tell ya what to bring, and there are NO WRONG ANSWERS :) Just bring what YOU LOVE, and don't worry about anyone else!
For me, Daniel Smith Serpentine Genuine (below), goes wherever I go!
Since I love choosing specific colors to bring with me, I prefer to create my own custom travel watercolor palettes. I've done videos on this before, but today's demo is a little different, so make sure you click over to watch this new process unfold.
I recently discovered some cute PARTIALLY FILLED travel palettes by Daniel Smith (see below). Each palette has 15 half pans, 9 of which are totally empty - ready and waiting for YOU to add your fave colors to, and 6 of the half pans come pre-filled with color families like blues, purples, neutrals, etc. Cool, right? Best of both worlds!
The brand QoR also has a similar travel palette that's been pre-filled with 6 colors, and has 6 empty half pans ready and waiting to hold YOUR favorites!
Just look at how beautiful these color selections are!!
I've really been enjoying the vibrancy of QoR watercolors lately. I recently purchased this QoR set of 24 5ml watercolor tubes and am planning on adding 15 of them into a baby watercolor palette that will clip onto my journal. Its' SO adorable. Make sure you stay tuned till the end for a sneak peek at THAT!
Once I've filled my empty half pans in each palette, I swatch my colors inside a little travel watercolor journal so I know what's inside each palette.
These cute skinny watercolor journals are awesome for swatching!
If you're NOT getting ready for a trip and just want something to make swatching a little more fun, make sure you download my FREE Swatch Sheet! You can use it for watercolors, markers, colored pencils, you name it!!
I hope you found today's video helpful for your next trip!
And if you DON'T have any travel plans right now, who cares?!! You can STILL create some little custom watercolor palettes for yourself.
This baby mini travel watercolor palette is completely ADORABLE, wooden, and even clamps onto your journal!! It's perfect for moving your watercolor supplies easily around your house, into your backyard, or for an artsy walk in the park! I can't wait to use mine!!
Need Some Awesome Watercolor Lessons?
Of course you can't just have a set of gorgeous watercolors and NOT use them, RIGHT?! Check out the Celtic Collective art club over at Awesome Art School. It's like Netflix for watercolor and drawing lessons and are all FANTASY themed! So tons of mythical creatures from fairies (good & bad!!) to mermaids, unicorns and more!
Lucy Brydon and I are having a blast with our students, and would LOVE for you to join us!! You don't have to have ANY watercolor skills to join. We'll teach you everything you need to know from the ground up!!
Join the waitlist here to be notified the next time enrollment opens:)
Wanna Watch Another Video?
I thought you'd never ask ;) This one's a goodie about ... surprise, surprise... how to make a teeny tiny travel watercolor palette!! It's SOO fun and soo cute!!
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"Karen is flipping hilarious and she's very real...I like the way she teaches in a way that really gives you confidence, whether you're a beginner or advanced there's always something new to learn!"
- Elizabeth W.
What Fans Are Saying
Karen, you are absolutely fabulous! You make me feel like I can draw anything. I have recently retired and finally have the time to do some of the art that I have loved since I was in school. I am really at the beginning of my art journey and I hope to learn as much as I can. Thank you for all you do.