Review: Portable Painter Watercolour Palette

This is the Portable Painter that I wrote about in November 2016. It appears that their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign was successful and the creator Steve Padden has made and shipped the first batch of Portable Painter palettes. Youtubers such as Steve Mitchell, HulloAlice and Sharon Cullen have already received theirs.

Steve Padden has sent two sets to me to check out.

The Portable Painter is designed for watercolour artists or hobbyists who like to paint outdoors. It was designed with many functional features.

There are two flaps that fold out. One has three large mixing areas, the other has 10 small mixing area. I've been using mine for a few weeks and the mixing areas are stained with some colours that are difficult to clean off.

That's the packaging.

The palette is made of several detachable parts. This is how it looks like in the most compact and portable form.

These are the different parts.

You can slide the metal holder on top to release the two water containers that enclose the palette. Except for the metal holder, the other parts are all plastic, so the palette is very lightweight, not much heavier compared to the Winsor and Newton Pocket Box.

The best thing I like about the palette is it has two water containers. I usually bring empty ink bottles outdoors to wash my brushes. Now I have these two water containers that don't take up much space when packed in my bag.

You can easily fix the containers to the sides of the palette by sliding them into the grooves. The top of the container is curved so you can put a brush horizontally.

This palette box holds 12 half pans. Above the pan compartment is a slot for the included double sided brush.

That's the collapsible brush with synthetic hair. One's probably a size 4, the other a size 2. The size is good for painting on A5 or smaller pieces of paper.

In the place where it holds the brush, you can fit in a Rosemary watercolour pocket brush or a short wooden pencil. The Da Vinci and Escoda pocket brushes are too big to fit.

The Rosemary pocket brush shown above is a size 6. The size 8 and 10 have no problem fitting into the box too.

12 empty half pans are included. Shown above on the left is the included half pan, and on the right is a 3rd party half pan I bought online. The included half pan is slightly smaller and shorter. The dimensions are exactly the same as the Winsor & Newton half pans.

When the included half pan is new, it falls out of the holder easily. The pans should not fall out after paint has gotten into the gaps. Shown above is a mixture of the smaller and bigger pan. The bigger pan is not able to fit completely into the pan holder so it juts out a bit. The box is still able to close properly.

I like to put my palette on the ground while I'm sketching outdoors. When sitting on a short portable stool, the raised palette allows me to reach the paint more easily. If you want to, you can also put the palette on your tight with the two water containers beside, however that may not be tight so be careful not to let the palette topple over.

The palette is best used when put on the ground or on the thigh. There's no thumb ring like some other palettes where you hold in one hand. Anyway, it's going to be quite tiring to hold the paint and water.


Overall, I think this is a fantastic palette.

The design is smart and functional. This is function over form. It's very practical for people painting outdoors. I love the water containers because I no longer have to bring separate empty bottles to wash my brushes, and it can even hold a Rosemary pocket brush, so it's a terrific all-in-one palette.

Update: The updated product now comes with a rubber band that you can use to hold the metal piece. The previous version did not have the rubber band.

If you want to check out more information about the Portable Painter, just visit


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)

I read the instructional pamphlet and it shows that the metal slider will fit under the rubber band holder when the palette is asssmbled (no need to toss it in your pocket). Plus, there is still room to tuck in a brush or pencil. Very neat product that I have just received. I'm looking forward to Using this soon!

In reply to by Nan (not verified)

The one with the rubber band is the updated model. The previous version did not come with the rubber band.

Just wondering if you still really like this pallet? And do you use the same travel brush as at first with it?


In reply to by Darcy Paul (not verified)

@Darcy Paul
I'm still using the same palette and brush.

Just watched "Angela" online and she was demonstrating with the palette and because it looked great I just ordered one with the extra cake holders. I think it is going to help me to not be frustrated with painting outdoors. Can;t wait to receive my new portable palette!

I find the convenience of the overall design rather limited. It’s great if you are sitting with no stable base, but not is you are standing and using an easel. It’s tricky to ind a position for it. Furthermore the palette didn't sadly withstand the impact from a fall off my easel and one of the hinges broke. I find the quality of plastics from Winsor and Newton much better.

In reply to by Piero Mattirolo (not verified)

@Piero Mattirolo
This is not designed for standing use. If you already have an easel, you should put the water tray on the easel instead of carrying it by hand as it's heavy and sways.

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