Sunday, February 05, 2012


I rarely post to Artists Forums these days though I occasionally drop by some of the ones I once visited regularly.  Mostly they’re just chat with very little substance.  Last week I came across a post from a lady asking if it was OK to use watercolour in pans.  The paint from tubes was too runny - she preferred using pans but the paint dried and it was hard on brushes when you had to rewet the surface.

This generated a string of replies about how to solve this difficult problem!  Ever since my student days I was always told to use tubes and I would have thought that tutors running recreational classes would be giving the same advice.  So why does anybody need to discuss such a trivial matter?

Keith Noble RSMA – our current Ludlow Art Society President – came to one of the members’ plein air sketching days last year. He took out a pristine clean watercolour box looked at his subject and squeezed out the colours he needed. I was most impressed.  It was a Craig Young Watercolour box – he assured me it was not brand new –that  was the way he worked.  His watercolours sell for as much as it would have cost him to buy it.  Lucky man – I’d have to consider taking out a mortgage to purchase one.

I have a Holbein Box with a thumb hole in one half enabling it to be used as a palette.  It has a row of shallow wells to squeeze out colours . I’m not such a fastidious craftsman as Keith though – mine is rarely completely pristine clean.


Inky said...

Hi Robert

I agree about using tubes, so much better and easier to mix colours.

As for box, I just use a white dinner plate and sometimes a porcelain palette.

Robert said...

Thanks for the comment Inky. In the studio plates and the sloping porcelain palettes are fine. They're not ideal for painting outdoors. An alternative to a Watercolour box is a plastic butchers tray. Ron Ranson and I think David Bellamy have used them. Personally I would miss the wells that you have with a paint box.

Inky said...

Yes, I understand what you mean about missing the wells... when I paint outdoors I take the porcelain palette, it has a little box that it fits into nicely. I guess I just prefer the feel of the paint on porcelain rather than plastic, silly I know. Sometime maybe I'll get a proper paintbox to use with the tubes - I rather like the look of the metal ones.