Trip Prep: Eight weeks worth of watercolour paint

June 6, 2016 | 18 Comments

Further to my previous article about deciding on the colours, I finally got around to preparing my palette and the extra pans that I expect I might need. There is no time in my busy itinerary to make up more and allow them to set for a few days if I need extra en-route! Not to mention the fact that paint tubes are additional weight and space. I normally prepare a brand new palette, but this year I cleaned up and topped up an everyday one, so a little proud of myself for not being as wasteful as I normally am. (Making fun of myself here!)

I am sharing this photo today so that we can all compare it with what I bring home and see how accurate my predictions were. (I often forgot to take the before and after photos and they would be very useful as reference for future trips.)

Hmm, It certainly appears strange that I am so light on with the red-pinks, but I have taken a spare Quin Rose on previous trips and never needed it. I also think I’m a little ambitious taking so much cerulean blue to the UK. I go through a lot here in Australia, but our skies are blue a lot of the time. Sorry! that is a bit cheeky… I might see lots of blue sky in Scotland and England this summer, mightn’t I? It is a great colour for greys too, so maybe my allowance is wise as I will be painting lots of greys.

Other articles to check out:
My watercolour section – with lots of things to consider when choosing your colours
Recommended minimum palette of 6 colours
A basic 12 colour palette
Putting together my palette for a big trip

Brenda Swenson on filling a palette
Jane Blundell on filling half pans
Jane Blundell on ‘ramp’ filling pans 


  • Magdalena says:

    Dear Liz,
    It’s nice that you’ve decided to visit Europe. If you would like to visit Poland in the future, I strongly encourage you to go to Cracow – i live here and there is a lot if inspiration: beautiful Old Town or even wonderful landscapes in the suburbs . I’m also an artist so it would be nice to make some sketches together. And my boyfriend knows the history of this city very well so he can talk about Cracow for hours 😉 Poland is very beautiful and you will be amazed.

  • Sandra James-Talbot says:

    I have just got back from 5 gloriously sunny days in the Lakes, so I hope that’s not the British summer over and done with for this year! I’m sure you’ll have some lovely days and make a big dent in your cerulean, but as you say, it’s great for greys too. I’m very envious of your 8 week trip, but excited to see your sketches.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Oh! so glad you had lovely weather Sandra! I will take what I get and rejoice everytime I see blue skies… but the scottish hills are gorgeous in misty weather too!

  • Margaret McDermott says:

    Just got back from a fortnight in Scotland, brilliant blue skies everyday with some occasional puffy white clouds, one day of rain, so I hope it continues for your visit!

  • Emily D says:

    A wonderful palette! I do love the cerulean. 🙂 I love all those blues. When I was in California I found that I needed to do a lot of mixing to get all the lovely blues I was seeing!

  • Great idea to have several pans of certain colors. I’m sure you will have enough…but they do sell paint in other places too. lol Have a great time.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Ha Joan! yes they do sell paint!!! (sometimes hard to find Daniel Smith though!) but it is a pain to wait a week till it is dry enough to put in my palette! I know from experience that it is hard to use different paints when travelling. Its just not worth the risk for me of being frustrated by untested colours when travelling

  • Pam Thorburn says:

    We’ve had a week of sunshine and blue skies in Edinburgh-that’s probably our quota for the summer, I’m afraid!

    • Liz Steel says:

      I will take what I get. My sis was saying how cold it was in Lewis…so hoping the summer there is waiting for me.

  • Leslie Rich says:

    Great idea to bring extra pans instead of tubes. I’m definitely doing that this Aeptember when I travel to Ireland. Sad to say I won’t be there for the USK symposium.

    Question: how do you affix the pans to your palette? Also, are those half pans and quarter pans?

    Thanks for your wonderfully informative and inspiring blog.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Lesie, I use blu tac – check out that top article on preparing my palette. I am using full pans and half pans.

  • Jennifer Scott says:

    Luck of the draw – you might use all your blue, or you might find you need more grey! Summers here are glorious when they’re glorious… but when they’re not…
    As others have said you can get paint here in blightly… Daniel Smith is available from Jacksons Art. If you are in London I’d also recommend a visit to Cornelissens – kind of the Gringotts of Art shops. I do hope you enjoy yor visit, whatever th weather brings!

  • I hadn’t thought of that: I’m going to have to swap out the mega-dose of Cerulean that I need for California skies.. Luckily greys are fun to mix with almost anything you find in your palette, and I love using the days shade of ‘palette mud’ in my work.

  • Lisa Pierson says:

    thanks for all the info. very helpful to a newbie like myself to watercolor. Please add Washington, DC to your list of places to visit especially the Spring and Autumn. I think you enjoy the surrounding area as well. And of course Daniel Smith is easy to find in the U.S.

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