I like to paint out in the field and around town. To do this I like to carry my paints with me at all times. I also like to travel light. The above photo shows a selection of travel palettes with which I work.
The two smallest palettes in the center of the image are kid's palettes (note the U.S. Quarter positioned next to the palettes for size comparison). The one on the left contains watercolors, the one on the right contains gouache. I take out the pellets of kid paint and use my own favorite brands of paint. I had a shoulder problem several years ago and even my other travel palettes were too much for me to hold at the same time I paint (I typically stand and hold journal and paints in one hand and work with the other). These small palettes are filled with 11 colors each. Because they are so small they are in my fanny pack at all times. I can paint with watercolor or gouache depending on my mood.
On the top left I have a 4 x 5 inch Schmincke pan box which actually contains Schmincke watercolors. The box has been modified so that it can contain an extra row of pans.
On the top right there is another 4 x 5 inch Schmincke pan box. To fill this box I purchased empty pans (Daniel Smith and others sell pans which fit this box), and filled them with the gouache colors I like to use (Schmincke and M. Graham brands; both are pigment rich, don't have opacifiers in them to make the paint chalky and cloudy, and most important they both rewet really well).
The white plastic box in the front is a Winsor Newton Cottman watercolor box (there are a number of styles sold with Cottman watercolors; this box folds to 4.25 x 5.25 inches and is very slim and easy to pack; on the right of the box you can see the extra mixing tray just peeking out from the bottom of the box, it slides out and is the width of the box). As with the kid's palettes I tossed the watercolors that came with this box. (Cottman watercolors are Winsor Newton's student grade watercolor; I purchased the box on sale for $15 and the box was worth that to me.) I filled the pans with watercolor brands I like: Daniel Smith and M. Graham. (Note the Cottman pan colors come wrapped in paper, you throw out the wrapped color and keep the pans as other brands of empty pans do not fit in this box!)
On the far left is another palette I just got this summer. The photo was taken before I filled it. This 2.5 x 3.25 inch metal box has 2 rows of 6 wells for paints. Note that the end of the rows are not closed so you'll need to fill those areas with hot melt glue to keep paint from leaving the end wells. I used one whole pan and 3 half pans to fill the central area and add additional colors. This created additional small side areas between the pans and allowed me to fit 8 additional colors in the box for a total of 20 colors. (A friend sent me this box from the west coast; it is now available at Wet Paint for $12.95: the Pocket Painter Palette.)
I'm an advocate of using as few colors as possible, but this box makes a nice compromise between my full boxes and the kid's palettes.
I've been pushing myself to paint more landscapes and find that I have a need for some new colors not currently in my palettes. Because of this I'm changing some colors around, or maybe I won't. I'll write more about the contents of the palettes in upcoming posts. If you want to read about how I worked out which colors to put in the white watercolor box you can check out a PDF called "Adding and Deleting Pigments from My Watercolor Palette" under Educational Content? on the Leisure Reading page of my website.