Twenty two for Santa Fe

It’s definitely time for a new travel palette. The old one was first filled in 2019, and that one replaced one I bought before I taught in Manchester. Even though I have taken very good care of it, the enamel is starting to chip, leaving chunks embedded in my paint. That’s not a good thing. It’s kind of interesting to note that a new palette is averaging three years of use, or abuse, before it starts to deteriorate.

I bought the same FOME palette as I had before (these are hard to find but there are similars on Amazon made by Meeden or Whisky Painters) but it needed to be customized again so that I can fit in more than the 12 pans it comes with. Here are my steps:

1: I attach seven new pans in the middle section, using that sticky tack stuff you use to stick posters to your wall.

2: I pry out three small pans from the top of the old palette. I don’t remember where I got the old tiny pans, but nothing else fits so these will be re-purposed. Regular plastic half pans do not fit into that tight top section of the palette, and if I jam them in there, I won’t be able to close the box anymore.

3: I cut a tiny slice of Foamcore to fill the space so the middle row of pans can’t move.

4: I get out my toothpicks so I can swirl the paint around in each pan and help get air bubbles out. Colours in that row are Lemon Yellow, Hansa Yellow Deep, Transparent Orange, Winsor Red, Quinacridone Rose and Crimson Lake.

5: The far row is blues and greens: Turquoise Blue, Cerulean, Cobalt, Ultramarine, Prussian, and Hooker’s Green. Yes, it got a spot in my new palette!

I love the toothpicks after I swirl the paint!

6: Middle row is more yellows, earth tones and a few purples plus my new favorite, Quin Coral! In order: Naples Yellow, Quinacridone Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Quin Coral, Lavender and Carbazole Violet.

7: The top row of old paint is Permanent Magenta, Cobalt Green and Black.

8: The final filled palette has two tiny spots but I need to find containers so I don’t pour paint right into the bottom of the palette. I’m looking for suggestions of what would fit in there. I need a spot for Green Gold! The only colour I didn’t put in is Cobalt Violet. I just don’t use it that much and it’s expensive, but if I can find a little tiny pan that fits, I might add some Yellow Ochre. This new palette will be coming with me to Santa Fe when I teach there next month.

Some of you might be wondering what will become of that old palette. I won’t be discarding it because it’s still full of perfectly good paint. Likely, it will remain at home and I’ll use it for studio or garden sketches until all the wells are empty.

52 Comments on “Twenty two for Santa Fe”

  1. There’s nothing like a beautiful new palette of fresh paint! So satisfying!


  2. Kelly Morrison says:

    Know any kids that will give you some Lego pieces, wiggle the round centers out and use for your small colors.


  3. Gretts says:

    Do you ever teach on the east coast of US?


  4. Hi Shari. So fun to see your process – you are always so generous in sharing your craft. And the filled palette is so “pretty” – can’t wait to see it painted in your sketchbook :). xo M


  5. Diane says:

    I can’t tell from the photo if you are using full pans or half pans but Dick Blick sells both made by Schmincke


  6. Northern Traveller says:

    Also – great idea on the lego from Kelly! I want to know how easy it is to wiggle those round pieces out……LOL.


  7. Jaya Samant-Lal says:

    Hi Shari – my son who is 14 does 3d printing and design and would be happy to make a custom sized pan for you – no charge! If you’d like , please tell us the dimensions you need.

    Otherwise I have seen 3d printed pans on Etsy. Here’s an example – I am not connected with the seller in any way – and lots of others!

    Look what I found on Etsy:

    Jaya Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  8. cdeh69 says:

    Such great information! Thanks for the “demo”!


  9. De says:

    Always fun to have a fresh start with a palette. I had never heard of FOME so learned something new. Just curious, do you find the metal palettes better than the plastic ones? Such as keeping the paint moist? Or is it just a personal preference? Always appreciate you sharing all that it takes to be an artist.


    • De, thanks for having a look. I do prefer enamel palettes to plastic ones, for the travel versions. And I am really used to this one! But my studio palette is plastic and it works just fine. It’s been broken in! As long as the water doesn’t bead on the surface, I am fine with it.


  10. cuzinevie says:

    I always enjoy your newsy emails. Can you tell me the brand of the “sticky tacky stuff”you used to revamp your new pallet? I haven’t seen any that actually has squares, which look like the perfect size for adhering pans to pallet.

    Thank you!

    Evelyn Redfield 🎨 The “earth” without “art” is just “eh.”



  11. baillu says:

    Shari, you might find small pan in a store with cosmetics! In a cosmetic palette, you should find the size you need! Also, you can use aluminum foil to mold pans!

    Envoyé de mon iPhone



  12. Kristin Johnsen says:

    Always great to see your new palettes full – mine looks closer to the clean one than your well used one though so think I need to get painting more!!! But thanks for all the tips about how you fit in the pans to add more colors….I”m saving this post!!!


  13. Dorothy Finn says:

    Hi Shari,

    I found tiny pans on etsy. 1cm square and ½ cm high a year ago. There are other sizes on etsy and there was someone who made some with a 3D printer who may be able to custom print some for you. I’m in the U.S., but I think etsy is world wide.

    I hope you find what you are looking for.

    BTW, I love your online classes.



    • Dorothy, thanks! Now that people are writing to me, I am finding these tiny pans everywhere. So happy about that!
      And glad you are enjoying the online classes. That makes me smile!


  14. wrrobbins says:

    Hi Shari – Thanks for sharing your new palette. You may be able to make more room for pans if you can remove the inner base plate and dividers the way Liz Steal modifies her palette (it may require a drill). With the full width available you may fit in more half pans or a pattern of half and full panels.


  15. Betsy says:

    I love quin coral, too.

    Some flowers just can’t be painted without it – can’t mix a glowing pink-orange like that with reds and yellows.


  16. Betsy says:

    So you like Hooker’s Green better than sap green, I take it. I’ve never tried the Hooker’s, but maybe I should look into it.


  17. wrrobbins says:

    Hi Shari – Thanks for sharing your new palette. You may be able to make more room for pans if you can remove the inner base and dividers the way Liz Steal modifies her palette (but this may require a drill). With use of the entire width you may get more half pans or even a pattern of half and full pans.


  18. Jane Haddock says:

    Hi Shari, check out They have wonderful little half pans. I’m taking your workshop in Santa Fe and will bring some empty ones for you to check out.


    • HI Jane,
      Thanks so much for writing. Looking forward to meeting you and sketching with you in Santa Fe. I already have the wonderful Folio palette from Arttoolkit. In fact I used it every day for my second demo in Santa Barbara, and I will be doing the same in Santa Fe. It’s a perfect size for me! Don’t you love it?


      • Jane Haddock says:

        I bought the mini palette to use for nature journaling and carrying in my backpack. I’ve really enjoyed using it so far. This is definitely a wonderful small business to support. I’m looking forward to our time in Santa Fe!


  19. Cindy Cali says:

    Greetings Shari! Mine is the same shape as yours, made by Fome as well and holds 16 half pans. You don’t have to modify it. I ordered it from F. Cornelissen and Sons in London (I live in the USA). They have three different ones. It listed as “theirs” but with Fome’s product number F2091 (16 half pans). It sells for approximately $43 US Dollars. Here is the link.


  20. Suzanne says:

    What a fun post. You’re very creative and generous!


  21. Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Hi Shari!! I love seeing artists’ process of “assembling” their palette! Not sure you are aware, so just in case you are not, Whiskey Painters who basicaly designed this shape of palette first ( and then others got the idea!) has a model of this palette called “Dolce”, which can carry 24 half pans, or, 16 plus a travel or water brush. There is no sponge slot, and the 2 “official” rows of half pans only fit half pans, but you can fit full pans in the middle where the travel brush would go (or more half pans!) This has been my palette for 5 years, and apart from some staining on the white mixing areas (which i scrub every year), it looks exactly the same as when i bought it. It has been used on average every other day. The ones with the Whiskey Painter brand are made by hand in Italy, whereas FOME and MEDEEN are chinese, thus the manufacturing pfocess is likely different (and so is longevity!). They are a bit more expensive though, so some might prefer a cheaper more disposable palette, which is absolutelly fine. I just thought of mentioning in case you or others are not aware! Oh, and the “Dolce” comes in gloss or matt black or matt white! And no, I am not affiliated with them at all, I just love a reasearch, lol!!!!


    • HI Yvonne,
      This is helpful stuff, some of which I knew and some that is news to me.
      I know that Whiskey Painters makes the same palette, and it doesn’t need to be customized.
      I did NOT know that they were made by hand in Italy, though, and maybe the enamel on them would not come off like the FOME.
      Part of the reason I buy the FOME is that I like to support the local art supply store in Montreal that carries these. They are very kind to me, so I try to buy whatever I can there and they do have all kinds of gorgeous stuff and the best brushes in town.
      But with this new knowledge, I will certainly consider the Whiskey Painter palette in three years when this one is finished!
      Love your research!


      • Yvonne Carpenter says:

        Shari, I totally understand catering to the local art stores. I buy paint at my local store on and off despite it being more expensive than mail ordering to give them some of my business. Same with paper and sketchbooks (my husband specially, as he is the “Dec 24 afternoon Christmas shopper”!!!) I want my local store to BE there if I have an “emergency”! But they will not be there if all our purchases are online! Perhaps you can try again in 3 years, and compare durability. It would be a great post! AND, perhaps your local store would be interested in carrying the Whiskey Painters palettes. I am amazed about how much my art store is able to cram in their small footprint! They even carry the ETCHR brand products – it is insane!


  22. Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Shari, i forgot to mention that with the Dolce, there is no need for any modifications. That metal bar that holds down the half pans on both sides ALSO hold down the center row! It is totally “plug-and-play”!! Btw, i liked this palette so much, at the time i bought a second one in fear i would not find that exact set up again, so i have a new one tucked away when the current palette “expires”, but it is doing so well i have no idea when that will be!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Loved reading and seeing how you were customizing your new palette! I also enjoyed reading all the clever and helpful comments from the artists who responded to this post. Most artists are so generous with information and suggestions!


  24. Rlschaffer says:

    I bought the same sized Whiskey Painters palette box but designed to hold 5mL paint tubes instead of pans. I smashed all the metal partitions down flat, lined the whole box with tac and was able to position 28 half pans and one full pan. The tube style box was significantly less expensive than the pan style at Amazon. There is very little wasted space in this configuration.

    Great to see a new fresh paint box ready to go.


  25. Thank you for being so generous with your information. I come to your site and take your courses often. You mention Crimson Lake WN in your palette, but I don’t believe WN makes this anymore. Would you recommend a similar replacement?


    • HI Stephanie, I think that my tube of Crimson Lake is really old! I just try to use up old tubes sometimes. In place of that use Alizarin Crimson which is what I usually use for cool red. And thanks for your kind words!


  26. graycurse says:

    Hi Shari! Love seeing your posts on process and tools!

    Question for you about the W&N Burnt Umber – do you find that it cracks when dry? Do you do anything to treat yours? Whenever I put mine in pans, it starts to crumble away after a week or so!


    • That’s a great question!! I love Burnt Umber, but yes, it does dry and crack, just like Raw Sienna. Earth tones dry out so quickly and as I learned in Santa Fe, Winsor & Newton pigments don’t work well in dry climates so my Burnt Umber was as cracked as a dry riverbed. The best pigments for New Mexico or other dry areas are the ones that are honey-based like M. Graham. Those tubes are usually too goopy for here but not for there. I always carry a little spray bottle to refresh my paints and that definitely helped on my recent trip.


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