Out with the old

It’s always with some reluctance that I change palettes, but I have to say that this one was overdue for replacement. A hinge had broken and been repaired some time ago, and rust was starting to take up more space than paint. I filled this one in 2016 before I taught in Galway, and I can certainly say that it has had a good run.

This old FOME palette held 23 colours, because I had added seven more half pans to the middle row. Luckily I found the same palette again, but this new model, in its original version, only has room for 12 colours. That’s a bit of a problem for me. I love the size of the closed box because it’s no bigger than my cell phone, but it will take some jerry-rigging, once again, to get it up to speed. Below is a photo of what it looked like when I brought it home. I suppose the middle row would be good for a travel brush, but what is the purpose of the empty space at the top? Not really sure what the designer was thinking about when this new configuration was created.

I bought a bunch of empty half pans that come in little holders, thinking that may do the trick for the middle row.

After some slicing and dicing, I managed to get another seven pans in the middle space, and I stuck them down with white sticky tac.

And then came the big decisions. I had to go from 23 colours down to 19. There were definitely a few in the old palette that I used less frequently, like Sepia and Yellow Ochre. And some colours that were interchangeable like New Gamboge and Quinacridone Gold (New Gamboge got cut). I also switched from the very strong Phthalo Green to a gentler Viridian. Once the final cut was made, I took a reference photo before filling the palette.

When I filled the palette, I used a porcupine quill to stir the paint and remove air bubbles. The quill and the good advice are courtesy of Jane Blundell! The palette will have to set for a few days before I take it on the road to a workshop I am teaching in Woodstock, Vermont.

The final 19 colours are:
Left: Azo Yellow (M. Graham), Quinacridone Gold (Winsor & Newton), Tranparent Orange (Schminke), Cadmium Red (Winsor & Newton), Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone Rose (Daniel Smith)
Middle: Raw Sienna (Winsor & Newton), Naples Yellow (Daniel Smith), Burnt Sienna (Winsor & Newton), Burnt Umber (Sennelier), Cobalt Violet Light (Shinhan), Lavender (Holbein), Viridian Green (Holbein).
Right: Turquoise Blue (Holbein), Cerulean Blue (Winsor & Newton), Cobalt Blue (Daniel Smith), Ultramarine Blue (Winsor & Newton), Prussian Blue, (Daniel Smith), Payne’s Grey (Holbein).
If you are interested in knowing the brands, they are listed above and the tubes are below, photographed in the same order as the placement in the palette.

Am I missing anything in this new palette? Of course I am. There will always be situations when I wish I had some Sennelier Sap Green or a bit of Carbozole Violet. But for now, for upcoming workshops in Florida and Mexico, this will be just fine. And in 2020 there may just be a new list…

65 Comments on “Out with the old”

  1. Gail Young says:

    I always love these posts to not only see what pigments you are currently using but where you will be using them. It helps know what colors are evident in a particular part of the world. I am realizing that because I was out of touch this summer I am wondering, are you no longer teaching at the college?


    • HI Gail, Thanks for asking about my job. I retired from the college in June so that I could teach more painting workshops. That’s why I am posting more and travelling more this autumn.


  2. Jean says:

    Thank you Shari. I have to refresh my paintbox and this helps me to see how you do that.


  3. Carol says:

    its too bad that little space at the top will not fit some half pans. Like yourself, not sure what that space was designed for. ??


  4. MC McDonnell says:

    Thanks Shari, this is so helpful. I have blown up the picture of the tubes of paint but can’t make out, other than Daniel Smith and Schminke, which brands you are using. Would you consider listing them? It would be most appreciated.


  5. Paula Raudenbush says:

    Hi Shari! Happy fall! I have a question about palettes. Why do you prefer a metal palette over a plastic one? Seems like rust would always be a problem. Also an idea for that odd space…use a hot glue gun to build up little walls for more paint directly into the space.
    Hope you’re enjoying your retirement (we need a more appropriate name for that). 😉


    • HI Paula,
      It’s always great to hear from you. In answer to your question about plastic vs. metal, I just prefer the feel of the enamel mixing surface. And I like this palette in particular because the wells are deep. Thanks for the idea of the glue gun to fill that space. Some people have suggested adding a sponge, which would also be useful too.
      As for retirement, I can’t say I am retired because I am still always doing some sort of work, but at least it’s work I love!
      Hope your hand is continuing to heal!


  6. shaskass says:

    Hi Shari. Interesting that you kept the lavender. What do you use it for? I’ve noticed in a lot of professional painters’ 🎨 palettes.


    • I love the lavender. I use it to grey down bright yellows, especially Naples Yellow. I use it in skies. And I also use it in street scenes when I need little dabs of opaque paint but I don’t want to use white. Very useful in many ways.


  7. Adina says:

    The little space of the top is for a sliver of sponge to control water on you brush 😀
    I like plastic palettes better with huge wells that would not mess-up my brushes. The only one that fit the bill is a Japanese Kisho which I will be bringing w/ 12 full wells to Ft. Myers & show it proudly, filled w/ what I call “Shari’s essentials” .


  8. shaskass says:

    Love your article. I noticed you have kept lavender. In Amersfoort you were experimenting with it in your palette. It must be useful as it survived the cull🤣!
    What do you usually use it for as I’ve noticed it in a lot of professional painters’ palettes?
    Very envious of not being able to join you next year in San Miguel de Allende. I was there with my family this week last year. Look forward to hearing all about your adventures!


    • Glad you liked the article. In answer to your question about lavender:
      I love the lavender. I use it to grey down bright yellows, especially Naples Yellow. I use it in skies. And I also use it in street scenes when I need little dabs of opaque paint but I don’t want to use white. Very useful in many ways.
      As for San Miguel, I am very excited to sketch there. Perhaps you’ll be able to join me another time. I’m sure I’ll be going back there.


  9. Kathy Noble says:

    A cause for celebration, for sure….a brand new palette! I LOVE all my palettes. I’m addicted to palettes😳. A thought about the small space at the end…..it almost looks like you could add three full pans horizontally, if you wanted. But I have also seen people put a small piece of sponge there to blot brushes.


    • It certainly is a cause for celebration. I too am addicted to palettes. And brushes. And so many other art materials. It’s a bit scary.
      I tried to add pans in that little space but they don’t fit. In the end, I will probably cut up a little sponge for there, as you and many others have suggested.


  10. Rita Cleary says:

    These posts are very helpful, Shari. I’m actually emptying out a travel palette that I haven’t used in forever. The paints are very crusty and crumbly, beyond hope. My question is….if you could only choose TWELVE colors, which would you choose? My little palette only has 12 slots, and there’s no room to jerryrig any more in there. Thanks!


  11. yoha says:

    My guess is that the empty space above is for water. Fill it up and you don’t need another water container.


    • Anne Marie Percival says:

      That couldn’t work as the walls are not impermeable. Also the reason the palette has gone rusty is probably because the paints have been spritzed with water each time. I have this same palette and mine, too, has rusted..so I now use pipette to drip a drop on the paints before a session rather than spray


      • Great idea Anne Marie. The palette is rusty for exactly that reason. I am constantly spraying it. And even rinsing it. But I will try to be better with this new one.


    • I think if I added water in that space, it would just flow into the rest of the palette. I would have to add a little container to do that. Thanks for writing!


  12. Linda Phillips says:

    Can you tell me where you found the Fome travel palette? I’ve been looking forever and don’t find it anywhere. Thanks for your work and help! Linda


    • Rlschaffer says:

      Check Amazon but look for “Whiskey Painters” Instead of FOME. They have both the pan version Sheri just posted and the tube version I bought which can be modified to hold 29 pans.


    • Linda, I bought mine at Avenue des Arts in Montreal. But there are many suggestions in the comments for where you can get these on Amazon. And they are the old version that I had so you don’t need to fix them like I had to.


  13. This is my nightmare-I’ve managed to keep my palette since 2004- it was a gift from my now decrased father. I’ve taken to fruitng as much excess water as possible after use because the hinges are rusty. Part of me know it’s silly to be so attached to an object, but still, that palette has traveled a long way around 5 continents as has the leather cover for my sketchbook!


  14. Judy Salleh says:

    Hi Shari I Hope you are well! – just a question…….Is the bottom tray that holds the half pans not removable? In all my palettes it is, and then I simply blue-tack the half pans to the bottom of the palette and can fit more in that way.


  15. Denise says:

    I’m sure letting go of that old palette was like parting with an old friend! Silly question-is the Woodstock workshop full?


    • Hi Denise,Thanks for asking about Woodstock. I was invited by a group, so I never advertised it to my mailing list or on my blog. Yes, I think it is more than full! Too bad. It would have been so nice to see you.


  16. Rlschaffer says:

    I bought the same sized palette box but designed to hold 5mL paint tubes instead of pans. I bent all the metal partitions down flat, lined the whole box with tac and was able to position 28 half pans and one full pan. I actually had difficulty deciding which paints to add as there was so much room! I love the three deep wells and overall size of this palette. Additionally the tube style box was significantly less expensive than the pan style at Amazon.

    Great to see a new fresh box filled and ready to go.


  17. Donna says:

    Again thanks for sharing all this good info. Several folks are curious about that lavender….looks like it is opaque. Do you use for pale shadows?


    • Hi Donna, Many people have asked about the lavender and here is my response:
      I love the lavender. I use it to grey down bright yellows, especially Naples Yellow. I use it in skies. And I also use it in street scenes when I need little dabs of opaque paint but I don’t want to use white. Very useful in many ways.


  18. Yvonne says:

    Meeden makes a palette identical to your old one, which holds 16 1/2 pans and you can add 8 more in the center. It even comes with 16 empty pans. I bought its bigger sibling (24 1/2 pans, plus 12 more, 4 mixing areas) a few months ago at Amazon US, and they still have them for sale (Us$20). I dont see the 16 pan version anymore, but I got mine from the same company a couple of years ago. They used to offer that one too at Amazon, but it comes and goes! Search amazon for “Meeden heavy duty”, if interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Judy Sopher says:

    Nothing prettier than a new palette just filled. I also collect palettes. As said above, the long thin space is often filled with a sponge. I often put a color in it and it stays put.

    Thanks to everyone for all the ideas.


  20. Anne Marie Percival says:

    I have the same palette Shari..and you can definitely squeeze three small paint pans in that space..as long as they are oblong and not square…turn them lengthwise


  21. tsc69216 says:

    I see someone already responded that the empty space is for a sponge.
    Thanks for sharing this composition of a new palette. I find it very interesting and useful.


  22. monique says:

    Thank you! As if my chosing your colors would help me:) But I love seeing them all and knowing them.Quelle belle palette.Bet your old ones are works of art:) Treasures.


  23. joantav says:

    I wonder what that little space at the top of the palette is supposed to be used for…maybe a tiny sponge? Great to see your colors and hear your thoughts about which colors to remove.


  24. Janet Clemens says:

    I enjoy your almost daily paintings and explanations…gives me inspiration. In regard to the little empty space at the top of your palette it might be for a small slice of a sponge. One of my palettes came that with one along with the filled pans of paint.


  25. TonyU says:

    Decisions, decisions! Having seen the magic you can work with just three colours Shari, I think you’ll be just fine with the new pared back nineteen. Looking forward to hopefully seeing some posts from such a great line up of workshops!


    • I know. How silly that I should fret about 19 colours when I give workshops on working with limited palettes. There will be lots of travel posts coming up in 2020. Hope you are getting in some sketching time too Tony!


  26. Cindy Cali says:

    Greetings Shari…. I recently purchased the Fome 16 half pan metal case from this website in England. They are reliable and I feel I paid a fair price. They also carry the eight half pan size as well. I really enjoy your art and love reading you posts. Here is the link:
    Take Care
    Cindy C

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Cindy Cali says:


    It is the FO2091 (16 half pan FOME heavy duty enameled watercolor box)

    Here is a photo on the manufacturers website:

    I believe the one Shari purchased is the FO2090 (12 half pan FOME heavy duty enameled watercolor box)

    I hope this helps

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Nice colour choices!!

    Liked by 1 person


    I have the exact same palette (came with Blockx watercolors), but I use the top row to place 4half pans. So it just create a kind of “U” shape. So it is a 16 colors palette.
    I didn’t used the central space that much, so 1 month ago I just had 7 new half pans too.

    I just found Fome made a 16 half pans palette with that same box (two rows of 8, pans placed in width that time /and no “top” row), but with an empty space more narrow in the center, so you can place 8 other half-P.
    I better had to buy that one I guess..!


  30. Ernesto Carmona says:

    The space at the top is for white gouache or any other color small tube that will fit.


  31. mlaiuppa says:

    That small space at the top if for a small tube of Chinese White.

    If you want your original, look on amazon or Etsy under Whiskey Painters and you should be able to find your original 16 half pan box that you can expand to 24 by using the center space, no MacGyvering necessary. I have about three of them and love them.

    FOME also makes a whole pan version but the center row is too wide to hold half or whole pans without magnets or sticky stuff. They also make those cute little travel flask palettes for Schmicke that only hold 12 half pans. They make a HUGE 48 pan box with steel pans that hold an entire tube of 15ml paint and still have a long section for brushes. It weighs a few pounds when completely full so is definitely a studio box. I have one.


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