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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Customizing your gear...a new gouache box!

Just because something comes to us as one thing doesn't mean it has to STAY that way, if it doesn't work for us.  Don't get rid of it till you give it a good hard look and see if you can work a conversion!

I loved this little Winsor & Newton watercolor box, except for a few drawbacks that made it end up neglected in a drawer...I don't like half pans, because I prefer the option of painting a nice juicy wash with a big brush, and half pans just don't cooperate for me. 

I also didn't care for the wee water dish...I made a seriously muddy painting trying to use this as it came from the manufacturer, so it got retired.

But it was lightweight and had nice mixing areas, so I just couldn't quite let it go...

I was looking at it the other day and ah-HA, realized that I could pop those tiny half pans right out...

I considered putting the paint directly in the double-half-pan size holes that were left...but I like to be able to change out my colors if I want.

Full pans were just a hair too big...till Joseph nipped off the little niblets at the top of each pan.  He cut them off with his handy Swiss Army Knife--just the top two--and a full pan fit perfectly.  I fix mine in place with rubber cement so they stay put but can be easily changed out when I need a new color.  (This Alizarin Crimson at upper left will go as soon as I find a replacement...it's muddy.)

I opted to use a warm and cool of the reds and blues, a single yellow, a burnt sienna for neutrals, and keep half pans for colors I don't use often--black and white.  (Wished I had indigo or Payne's grey instead of black, but...I don't!)

I used M. Graham and D. Smith--OOPS, meant Horadam Schmincke!--gouache, mostly...

The top offers a nice mixing area, and a sliding tray beneath gives you another one...the silly water cup that fits on the side is next to useless, though! Too easy to spill, too...

Sooooo...I used an old 35 mm film can fixed in place with a bit of blue sticky-tac and I'm ready to go.  I've even got two folding travel brushes that fit just fine in the brush trough above the pans of paint.  I'm ready to get OUT there with my gouache!


  1. I love this set-up! Too bad I gave my palette like this one away years ago. (Excuse to get another?)
    I didn't know Daniel Smith makes a gouache. Where do you find it?

  2. Okay, you have me wondering now...I have Holbein and Winsor and Newton gouache and both dry to a nice chalk consistency and are the devil to reconstitute. I also talked with Diana at M. Graham and she suggested just using what you needed at the time. So how is it that you're using this in pans and NOT having any issues?

  3. I just stuck it in a drawer for years! Michael's had them on sale some time back, worth it in that case...

    And I ordered it online!

  4. Laure, perhaps because I haven't used them much yet, but Roz says that both of these brands rewet well. I use them in my small gouache kit and find they rewet fine, but some colors tend to crumble. Holbein definitely tends to crumble more and since my W & N gouache was 30 years old I didn't blame it too much.

  5. I've searched Daniel Smith's website and couldn't find any gouache they made, only brands they sell.

  6. Sorry, girl, I meant Schmincke. Be advised, I'm getting rid of the M. Graham alizarin, it just doesn't float my boat!

  7. Oh! OK --
    I noticed your note re: alizarin crimson; whenever I get a chance to try M. Graham or Schmincke gouache, I'm leaning more towards a quinacridone ROSE for a cool red. Roz' choice of quin violet may be a bit too purple.

  8. Yes, the quin red that I LOVE for a cool red in watercolor is CORAL in the gouache I got. It’s got to go. I don't think I'd care for the quin violet, either...

  9. I read your comment on that somewhere. That's why I'd choose quin rose instead of quin red. Thought about getting some at Creative Coldsnow today if we had come to sketchcrawl.
    Darn winter . . .

  10. I remember a discussion on another group long ago about the tendency for gouache to crumble when it's dry. Someone suggested adding a few drops of gum arabic to each pan to prevent it. I did that, and found that it has helped quite a bit. And Kate, I have the Schmincke quin violet and just loved the way it worked painting Passionflowers in Florida!

  11. I have this same box and have retrofitted it to my own needs. I don't mind half pans, so I store M. Graham watercolor ii half pans in this box. It does have silly attributes, the water cup, but I like it a lot anyway. Best thing is it was originally bought for 10$ and watercolor boxes don't generally come cheap.

  12. Vicky, yep, it's not a color I have a whole lot of use for, I imagine I'll pass it along. Obviously when you switch to full pans this box isn't going to hold a lot, it's mainly the mixing areas that I like! And yeah, darn winter, I just ended up working on the blogs and classes all day yesterday!

    Maria, I did that gum arabic trick too when I was still using my ancient gouache, and it DID help! I don't know if it will be necessary with these new ones, but the yellow did crack down the middle when it dried...

    I'll have to take another look at the violet!

    Melly, I like it too, and like you I originally got it quite cheap! I really ought to do something with all the half pans I take out of things, though...

  13. Oh My Gosh! I have this same W&N box & never use it because it has Cotman watercolors in it. And I never knew that the bottom slid out. I kept trying to unhinge it & figured I'd better give up before I broke it. I was planning to stick gouache in mine, too, but didn't think about the full pans. I'll give that a try.

  14. Betty, you can actually pull that lower tray all the way out, but it has rails so you can put it back in place. Be sure to nip off the little bits inside the pans to make the full pans fit, and you're good to go!

  15. I put my gouache in a separate little bowl and when I want to use it, I rinse it with lots of water. I don't like having it on my palette because it gets with the other paints. Great blog! Thanks:)

  16. You film canister for water is a gem of an idea. I just bought the W&N set and couldn't figure out what that little tiny thing was for ... or that it hooks onto the side. I can't wait to go on my maiden voyage with it!

  17. Jacqueline, I definitely keep a separate palette (and sometimes separate brushes) for gouache, for just that reason!

    Elva, I can't take credit for the film canister idea, I think I got it from Liz Steel, but it IS nice and doesn't leak!

  18. Kate,
    Can I ask why you stopped using the 20-well folding palette you used for so long? I'm traveling in August and am debating which palette would work best for me. I'm leaning towards the folding one but am interested in your thoughts.


  19. PS: for carrying watercolors, not gouache :)

  20. Carol, just pure silliness, really. I didn't stop using the folding one, though! I wanted to try something sturdy and metal again, but still get out the folding plastic one frequently. It IS lightweight and has plenty of mixing room, and fits well in my bag--I think I'm just fickle!

  21. I'm definitely looking for something lightweight for this trip, and it seems easy to whip open when needed - and to hold. Thanks for responding so quickly!

    Here's to fickleness!

  22. Kate, You're giving me ideas! I got a box just like that from another artist via Freecycle.org, with several of the colors used up. I'm on my way to Dick Blick in the morning, thinking to replace them - and also to see if I can find out whether I have the artists' or the Cotman watercolor pans. (I suspect Cotman, considering most of the other paints in her box of goodies, but I'm truly new to drawing and painting so want an expert to take a look.)
    As I was researching, I discovered that the little dish is meant for mediums, not water. Makes more sense, somehow. Love your film canister idea for water! I'd also figured out that if I don't put a pocket brush in the brush slot, I can stick half a dozen more half pans in the slot and have more colors to experiment with. But you, Roz, Vicky and others have me thinking I should be trying Daniel Smith, Schminke, and M. Graham instead, or as well.

  23. I'm surprised about mediums, since you normally don't use them with watercolor! (You can, and they make them of course, but it's not the norm...)

    It really depends, what brand you choose. I use M. Graham gouache, some, but not watercolor. The honey they use as a binder keeps the paints from drying for AGES, which doesn't work in a travel palette. I like some Winsor & Newton watercolors much more than Daniel Smith or Schmincke...I forgot that and just got a tube of DS Burnt Sienna (ick) which I will pass on to my brother in law! It's so much duller, grayer, and less transparent than W & N. Other DS colors I really like...

    And of course I keep simplifying rather than adding more colors, to keep things lighter! :-)

  24. I have a plastic similar palette that has sections and closes into a box. I had kept it for gouache but the paint powders and gets into the other compartments and becomes a big mess . How can I avoid this?

    1. Pia, some brands just do that worse than others, but you might be able to rewet the paint mounds and stir in a bit of gum arabic...

  25. i too have this same box and was wondering what to do with it because im not to fond of the colors ,so this is a great idea now it can come to life again ,thanks again


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