|St. Claire's licorice tin with 12 half pans|
When I first started thinking about making a portable watercolor kit, I saw plenty of clever ideas on the Internet, many of which centered on mint tins filled with half pans. My primary design motivation was devising a way for the tin to attach directly to my sketchbook so that I could sketch standing up. I finally came up with the idea of using a tiny, square Trader Joe’s mint tin that could hold up to 16 colors in the form of stubs of Daniel Smith watercolor sticks – the maximum number of colors in the smallest, lightest space. I’ve been using that tin happily for nearly a year.
While taking a watercolor class in January, I wanted to try using Winsor Newton tube paints (recommended by the instructor and preferred by many sketchers). I started to appreciate their richness of hue, and I was learning about their mixing qualities. In class I used a full-size traditional palette that easily accommodated the 17 colors I had, but I didn’t want to use that palette in the field. I picked out eight colors and put them into half pans, which was all that would fit into a TJ’s mint tin. Unfortunately, I was very unhappy using only eight colors, and no matter which eight I selected, the one I wanted was the one I didn’t have with me. So that tin didn’t last long, and I happily went back to my 16 Daniel Smith sticks.
Now I’m getting ready for another watercolor workshop – this time with urban sketchers extraordinaire Gail Wong and Frank Ching as instructors. I’ve also been looking over the supply lists for the workshops I’m taking at the Urban Sketchers symposium in Barcelona, and a couple of those instructors recommend Winsor Newton tube paints. So now I want to again give tube paints a try.
I dug through a junk drawer and found a St. Claire’s Organic Licorice Sweets tin, which is the same size as Altoids, Sucrets and other popular tins that sketchers are transforming into sketch kits, so I knew it would accommodate 12 half pans. (I miss the transparent window in the TJ’s tin, but the quotation by Helen Keller on the St. Claire’s lid makes up for it.) It wasn’t too hard to eliminate five colors from my collection of 17 tubes to get 12 into the tin. Below is the palette I selected.
|The 12 colors in my latest portable sketch kit.|
Despite all the sketch kits on the Internet that center on the classic Altoids tin, I’ve resisted using it because it would be larger and therefore heavier. Indeed, the St. Claire’s tin filled with 12 half pans weighs 58 grams, while my faithful 16-color TJ’s tin weighs only 40 grams. That difference might not seem significant, but when it’s attached to one side of your sketchbook, it’s a matter of both weight and balance. But I’m motivated to give tube colors another try.
To see the complete evolution of my mint-tin-on-a-stick sketch kit, see these posts:
Portable Sketch Kit, Part 2: Velcro is the Key
Tossing Out My Coloring Book
Coming Full Circle