Custom colour palette

I’ve been looking for a set of good quality watercolours but haven’t been able to find anything that doesn’t include a lot of colours I would never use. After falling down a few online watercolour rabbit holes, I found that you can make your own half-pan set from tubes.

Imagine the possibilities! I have quite a few little tubes already – probably far too many, but colour is too enticing to resist, and I will use it all eventually. I’m not a painter, but I do like to paint. Getting all the tubes out feels like too much hassle and mess for a quick sketchbook page, so making a pan set with the colours I’ve already got is the perfect solution.

Sketchbook page in progress: handmade sketchbook made with deckle-edge cotton paper. Drawn details are Posca paint pens and Signo uniball white pen

You can buy empty watercolour tins quite cheaply, and many of them come with empty half pans ready to fill from tubes.

Empty pan set with samples of colours I’ve already got

The result is a perfect set of watercolours, conveniently in a metal box that takes seconds to set up.

Custom water colour palette

There’s a lot of green, but then that’s what I like. There’s a mix of brands here – mostly Daniel Smith, with some Winsor & Newton, Schmincke, and Jacksons. They all sit quite happily together and mix well. Some set harder than others, but it seems to make no difference to the paint itself. The Jacksons paints still haven’t set hard after a few days, but this palette lives in a drawer and won’t be carried around, so I don’t think it matters if it doesn’t set.

I’d like to spend a bit of each day on sketchbook work, and this convenient set-up will make it so much easier to restart a daily practice. I’ve been doing some doodles just to see what happens and already they look like possible textile/stitch samples.

Sketchbook pages

This is what Sunday mornings are for, right?

Author: Karen

Textile and mixed media artist

25 thoughts on “Custom colour palette”

  1. Absolutely what Sundays are for. My art teacher at school taught me to refill using tubes. They wet up so much better than pans too I think.

    1. They really do. How have I lived so long without knowing this was a thing?!

  2. You seem like a painter to me! I love the variety of greens you have there.

    1. Thank you 😊 I love green, and there’s an infinite variety still to be discovered 💚

      1. I enrolled in the first stitching course and would like access to the updated version Thanks!

        1. Hello Erica, thank you for enrolling. Do you mean the subtitled version? This isn’t an updated version of the course, it’s exactly the same but with subtitles.

  3. It’s so good to hear you talk like this… I paint and sketch in order to stich too
    I thought I was the only one to think this way and wondered if I was crazy to be mixing so many techniques for an idea of texture and colour.
    Thank you

    1. 🙂 Putting paint on paper is one of the best ways to think, in my experience.

  4. I do exactly as you describe with watercolours – it made me smile as a I have spent the morning doing something similar but on fabric. Have you tried the schminke granulating watercolours? They are marvellous 🤩

  5. your artistry absolutely leaps off the page … I can’t even begin to say how gobsmacked I am!

    thank you for sharing your work so generously here …

    1. Oh you are kind 😊 Literally a one-inch square of colour with some drawing on top. Very easy. And *very* relaxing and therapeutic. Good quality paints make all the difference too.

  6. I started off (this time around) as a painting student, moving to textiles, so I am lucky enough to have tins of paints waiting for me. I love the idea of putting tube paints in a tin, but was always worried about how they’d set. this is making me think I should be one tube of my favorite watercolor paint (I like M Graham for tubes, it has a lot of honey and the paint moves deliciously). This is a lovely thing, Karen! And all of your design makes me want to pick up my sketchpad and work with lines again, and dots, and waves again!

    1. I think the watercolours with a lot of honey in them don’t set quite so well, but if you’re not picking up the tin and carrying it round that probably won’t matter. I’ve not tried M Graham but I’ve heard good things about them. Simple mark-making is always useful, I think.

  7. I do agree that your paintings are as lovely as your stitch work. Am I correct in assuming that you use masking fluid to make the tiny white details in many of the designs and if so, does that mean that you have planned what each little rectangle will look like before you begin to paint since the masking fluid must go down first?

    1. No, I didn’t use masking fluid. I used a white pen to add highlights etc after the paint had dried. I didn’t plan anything here, just splashed some paint down and doodled over it.

      1. I didn’t realize one could work that way, allowing for spontaneity. How great. What brand of white pen did you use? I’d love to get one.

  8. Ohh lovely little compositions. and I have been looking for a palette like this where I can move colors around in. Would you mind sharing the link to this palette and pan set please?

  9. Yes, much better to assemble your own favourite paints in a half pans, rather than buying a zillion you won’t use. Generally the tube paint seems to be better and more transparent, too. But speaking from experience – have a consistent order for keeping them in. Transparent colours look nearly black in the pan, and if they’ve moved you might go for a green and get a blue!

    1. Haha, already been caught out by that little gem! I’m trying to learn the palette key so I remember what goes where.

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