Portable Watercolor Kit

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There’s nothing I like better than seeing potential in an object outside of what it’s being marketed for. That–and getting a bargain. This storage tablet case was found at a home improvement store for about $12, and it jumped out at me as being a nice way to store my watercolor gear. It has a clipboard front, an inner pocket and second clipboard, and a back storage area where the tablet would have lived. If you’re searching for something similar, try using the terms “storage clipboard.” These are used outdoors and mostly in the construction trade.

The front clipboard is where I paint. The spiral keeps one side taut, and I can adjust the other side with the clip. Every so often, I tape down the top and bottom of the paper to help keep it from waving. If I were painting a picture instead of my journal, I would probably tape down an individual sheet on all four sides–or even use a separate board, but for this journal, it works great.

I’m using the biggest size of paper I can fit into this case, 9″x12.” I’ve chosen to use a spiral-bound tablet because I like the journal feeling of having everything together and being able to flip through. This made me search out a tablet with the thinnest spiral so it could fit inside, but I wanted high-quality watercolor paper. I found Strathmore 400 series, 140 pound, cold press paper. There are 12 sheets in each pad. I’m planning on working my way through the journal on one side and then, perhaps, flipping it around and working back. I chose this tablet because the other lovely watercolor journals and field tablets all open flat so the painter may paint on the left and right sides of the paper. I couldn’t find one that opened up to 12″ or less, which is the size I can fit on the clipboard. It could be out there, but I’m happy enough right now.

It’s true this size barely fits inside. Someone else may be unhappy with the fit because it’s so snug, and four pegs inside push down on the paper because the inside storage sleeve is held by those pegs, glued into the top of the case but (maybe?) possible to remove if you’re bold and have a little hacksaw. I’ll leave it as is for now and let it hold some towels and my color wheel. Unlike the photo below, I store my journal with the cardboard back facing up, so any impression the pegs leave is minimal. Am I thinking this through too much? Yes! That’s why it’s fun.

Inside, there are two compartments separated by another clipboard, which is where I keep my tablet when I’m not using it. Once the second clipboard is flipped up (it’s held into place by a plastic ridge/groove, nothing fancy), there’s ample space to store all your paints and brushes, providing they’re low profile. I “think” anything over 1/2″ may be too tall. I had to remove some foam from the inside cover that’s there to keep a tablet safe. It was glued on and there’s still glue residue I need to deal with. This is conveniently not shown in the photo. 🙂

My paints are tubes of Cotman watercolors, the student grade paint from Winsor and Newton. I’ve put them into this nifty Mijelle 18-compartment watercolor palette. The pans do not come out, but this is inexpensive, and I’m very pleased with it so far.

My brushes consist of round sable/synthetic brushes of a few sizes and three synthetic flat brushes. I love painting with flat brushes.

So far, I’ve enjoyed this kit, and I’m looking forward to carrying it around to paint outdoors, but even using this inside the house has been great.

Categories: Watercolor

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