The PanPastel Pocket Palette

Introduction: The PanPastel Pocket Palette

Wouldn't it be nice if you could tuck a dozen or so of your favorite PanPastel colors and a full set of painting tools in your pocket when you travel? I can and here is how you can too. Follow the links below to make your own Pocket Palette.

I assume you already have some PanPastels and Sofft Tools so the Pocket Palette should only cost about US $20 for the basic version..

Each step that follows is an item contained in the Pocket Palette starting with the top cover and moving down through the Pocket Palette contents. I spread these out when I paint. It only takes a couple of minutes to set up in a remote location and closing up is also quick and easy.

Here are links to my other two PanPastel Instructables:

PanPastel Portable Pans

PanPastel Portable Tools

Note: PanPastel and Sofft Tools are registered trademarks of Colorfin LLC of Kutztown, PA USA. I am not affiliated with Colorfin in any way and the ideas and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Step 1: Small Metal Travel Case

I chose a case I found on Amazon (Metal Case on Amazon). You can find similar cases on eBay and at most art supply stores. Search on "empty watercolor palette" or something similar to find all the choices available. I wanted removable pans so I could switch colors in and out depending on what I would be painting.

My case was 3.5" X 6.75" X 5/8" and contained 20 empty full-size watercolor pans with magnetic bases. This case fits easily in my pocket and yet has room for everything I need for en plein air painting or urban sketching.

All I need in addition to the Pocket Palette is some paper. I can use paper that is small (3" X 5") for the ultimate portability or carry a 9" X 12" pad for a larger paintings. I never travel without my PanPastels any more.

Step 2: 3" X 5" Note Cards

The first item inside the case is 3 or 4 standard 3X5 note cards. These I use as a place for notes, as color study cards, for value studies or as erasing shields (when trimmed with the scissors).

If I take a photograph on location I usually make some notes and color ideas on a card for later reference.

Step 3: A Metal Erasing Shield

Erasing back to the white of the paper (I don't use tinted paper.) is a part of almost any PanPastel painting. Erasing can be done free-hand or through an erasing shield (Erasing Shield on Amazon ). If you already use a small shield in the studio then you can add it to the Pocket Palette.

I can also paint through the holes in the shield to lay down pigment. The thin metal erasing shield is handy when I need a get hard edge in my painting. The various holes in the shield give me a variety of shapes to choose from. I can stroke through the holes in the shield to make grasses or tree branches for example.

The shield I carry is an off-the-shelf general purpose shield.

Step 4: Paper Towel

Paper towels are used to clean a pigment color off of a painting tool between layers. A few swipes on the paper towel will let you change colors without changing your tool.

I like Viva paper towels because they are strong and cloth-like. I include about 1/4 of a sheet folded to fit inside the case (Picture 1). I put this next to my mixing pad which is next to my color pans (Picture 2).

You will use the paper towel frequently to clean off your Sofft sponges between colors.

Step 5: Scissors

A small sccissor (like a cuticle scissor) can be handy for cutting Sofft sponge tips to any desired size. The scissors can also be used to trim the edge of one of the 3X5 cards to make an erasing or painting shield. Almost any scissor that will fir in the case will do.

Step 6: Silicone Rubber Mixing Pad

I almost always rub the painting tool I am using on this mixing pad after I pick up some pigment from one of the pans. The pad smooths the pigment on the tool and keeps loose pigment particles from getting on the painting. I also use it for mixing colors.

Any solid surface will do for the mixing pad, but I like the feel of the silicone mat (Silicone Mats on Amazon ) and I can wash it between uses to keep it fresh and clean.

The blue rectangles in the pictures are the silicone pads. I cut the pad to just fit in the case and it sits on top of the color pans when the Pocket Palette is closed. The pad is like a lid on the color pans and reduces cross contamination of colors.

Step 7: PanPastel Portable Pans

The heart of the Pocket Palette is the PanPastel portable pan. I make my own potable pans from each of the 24 colors of PanPastel I have (Picture 1). Then I can select 12 or 15 different portable pan colors to take with me in the Pocket Palette (Pictures 2 and 3). I can switch potable pans in and out of the Pocket Palette depending on what I anticipate I will be painting when I travel.

I can carry up to 20 full-size travel pans in my case (if I keep my tools in a separate container).

See my Instructable on how to make your own portable pans. DIY Portable Pans

Step 8: Custom Portable Sofft Tools

Standard Sofft Tools are too big to fit in the Pocket Palette (Picture 1). I have designed some smaller versions of the Sofft Tools to use when I travel (Picture 2 and 3). I usually spread the modified tools on the work surface (Picture 3) or in the lid of the open case (Picture 4).

See my Instructable on how to make your own portable painting Tools. DIY Compact Tools

Step 9: Waterbrush

The Sakura waterbrush (Sakura Waterbrush on Amazon) is an optional item in the Pocket Palette. It will add about US $10 to your Pocket Palette cost but I think it is worth it. When I need really fine details this is the way I do it.

I fill the waterbrush with 90% isopropyl alcohol. I squeeze a drop or two on one of the color pans and lift up some liquid pigment with the brush. Then I move to my mixing pad and make a small puddle of liquid paint. With the waterbrush I can get those details that add some sparkle to a painting.

I got the idea for this from this video: PanPastel Brush Details

Step 10: Eraser

One of the great features of PanPastels is the ability to erase them all the way back to the "white" of the paper.

I am a very amateurish painter and enjoy being able to undo my mistakes with an eraser. I also like to do negative painting of features like clouds and highlights on objects.

I cut a piece of a hard eraser (Picture 1) or break off a piece of a kneaded eraser (Picture 2) to fit in the Pocket Palette.

Step 11: Metal Bottom of the Case

I leave the portable pans in the case bottom while painting. This keeps any pigment granules from getting on the work surface or out on the paper.

It just takes a couple of minutes to pack everything back in the case to close up and leave.

Step 12: Grounds (Paper)

Paper choice is very personal. I like white (not tinted) paper because it is easy to erase back to the white. I like a moderately smooth (hot or cold pressed) surface to paint on. I don't usually bother with sanded papers for PanPastels.

Those are just my preferences!

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