Monday, June 02, 2008

Paint Boxes

I love paint boxes... ever since I was old enough to have my first Crayola paint set (and then a Crayola "Caddy" once a year for several years, thereafter), I have never ceased to take delight in opening a paint box and seeing those little jewels of colour laid out within.

Earlier this year, when I took up watercolour painting again, I dug out my various paint boxes and set about preparing a field / sketch / plein air kit. Most of the artist's quality paint manufacturers make a vast array of travel and field paint boxes or paint sets, suitable for every occasion. I own several, of which Winsor & Netwon are likely the best-known brand.

I like metal paint boxes, and so I have recently been looking at buying an empty box with the idea of filling it with full or half-pans myself, but nothing had caught my eye - until I found some wonderful metal paint boxes on the Natural Pigments website!

Natural Pigments formulate artist's watercolour and oil paint using rare, traditional pigments, which make for a more subdued, classical palette (you won't find Quinacridone Magenta here). The Natural Pigments paint brand is Rublev, and I was excited to see Rublev Watercolors pre-packaged in heavy duty enamel paint boxes - here was a perfect opportunity to get the metal paint boxes I wanted, and also experiment with a different type of watercolour paint in a classical palette.

I went a little overboard and ordered three paint boxes, two are shown below:

  • J.R. Cozens Travel Palette
    A muted and warm palette comprised of 8 half-pans (box can accommodate 12 half-pans), in a black enamel Bijou-style paint box with an built-in water bottle (35ml), integrated water dish and two mixing wells inside the lid. (I was ecstatic to find this paint box, as I have admired the W&N version for some time.)
  • 18th Century Palette
    A beautiful and natural palette comprised of 12 full-pans, this large paint box has a flip-out mixing area as well as four mixing wells in the lid.
  • Introductory Palette
    An expanded natural palette comprised of 16-half pans, this paint box also has a flip-out mixing area, and three mixing wells in the lid. (Not pictured.)
All of the Rublev boxes have a thumb-loop and v-clips to secure the pans - they are very well-made and sturdy.

As I already have my W&N Bijou Box for an 8 half-pan palette, I decided to modify the Cozens palette slightly:

I replaced an earth red, plus the blue ochre and black for paints with broader mixing capabilities, as well as adding a couple of essentials.

(PS: That travel paint box really *is* as adorable as it looks!)


  1. Linked to you on

    We have similar interests. Keep writing.

  2. Laurel,

    Thank you for the descriptions of these palettes. We enjoy seeing how they are utilized by artists.

  3. I LOVE YOU! You described ME, when you blogged about your love of colors and paint boxes since childhood! Though I already have the W&N Cotman fieldbox, I was currently drooling over both the W&N Bijou box, and a similar version of the 18th century palette when I came across your site, and now have to consider the cool Cozens box with water holders. (Do you know you are on the first page of Google under "Rublev Watercolor"?) Your blog describes the 2 toys I want, plus another option (Cozens) and your info has helped me decide.
    Since I already have the Cotman field box, I am going with the W&N Bijou box. My real reason is that it is the cutest of all (your comment "adorable" really helped) and has that classy logo on the front, but I am also using these reasons: Go for TINY. I can always borrow the water bottle from my Cotman if I plan ahead, but the WN Bijou is thinner and shorter than your Cozens version (due to no water receptacles) AND comes with a travel brush which does not come in the Cozens. (It is a much sought after brush because is very good for it's size, and smaller than most travel brushes AND cannot be gotten without purchasing one of W&N's little sets. I had one with the Cotmans, but lost it...I have been pining over it for years) Little Bijou is so small that I can actually keep it in my purse all the time. Heck, I can always use spit for water like our ancestors did. These little kits are for the purpose of spontaneity, after all.
    By the way, did you know that the Natural Pigments website (for which you have a live link above)also sells an empty version of the Winsor and Newton Bijou box for $37? No brush, no paint, and 1/4" larger but real close in size to WN. (but no cool logo, I am a sucker, but after all, artists are highly visual. Own that)
    I hope my comment can help other people decide on which cool toy to buy, if they can't get everything at once. Thanks for your great site, Laurel! I have you bookmarked.