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One van, 9 artists, 9 wet canvases and 9 wet palettes….oh my!!

Kippy Hammond

Kippy Hammond

One of the wildest, and craziest experiences here at La Bonne Etoile, is the trip home from an en plein air outing. One van, up to nine artist, painting gear and 9-18 wet paintings along with 9 wet palettes. Oh dear, you should see the strange manuveurs to get all of that together in some kind of an orderly fashion. With three en plain air workshops this summer, we are giving a little more thought to transporting wet paint and are thankful that Arden Boyce, who is arriving in July with Monique Carr’s group offered the following instructions for a portable palette. Here is one of her charming paintings I grabbed off the internet.  Thanks Arden for this wonderful contribution to the blog.

Arden Boyce

Arden Boyce

Dear Kippy (Kristina),

Here are some photos of my travel palette I made 18 years ago for my first trip to paint in France.  It measures 15×20″ with 2″ sides.

Portable oil palette from Arden Boyce

Portable oil palette from Arden Boyce


Some good things about this palette:

  • -It is relatively light weight.
  • -The paint doesn’t slide off the sides making a mess.
  • -I use the top on the easel and then use plastic clips to secure my canvas.  This doesn’t work with stretched canvas because it is too thick, but I use boards anyway.
  • -Also, you can lay out your paint before you go, and you don’t have to clean up until you get home.  You won’t get paint all over the place.
  • -For airline travel, I put the top under the box and then fill the open box with other items. But after a trip, I make sure it is clean before putting things in it.  I’ve also covered the inside with waxed paper if I’m not sure it is clean.

Palette 2If you are wondering what that black rectangle on the side of the box in photo 2 is, it is a square of Velcro.  That is where I attach a box to hold my brushes.  It actually is on the side toward the front…backwards in photo.

I set the palette on the easel. Also, I have a hook that I slip on the front or back side sometimes to hold my turpentine.  Or I put the turp in the back right corner.

The bungee cord doubles as a paper towel holder.  I slip it through the roll of paper towels and hook the ends on the sides at the front of the palette.

Another two plastic clips or hooks hold plastic grocery bags for trash.
A few years ago, I did add more strapping tape on the sides, after much use.


Palette 3Here is how I made it:

  1. Cut 2 pieces of foam board the size you like.
  2. Cut 4 pieces of foam board for the sides…measure carefully.  The sides are 2″ wide times the length.  For the 2 long sides, they will be exactly the length of the bottom.  But for the two shorter sides, they must be measured holding the long sides in place (they sit on top of the bottom board) and then measuring the distance between them to get the exact size.  It helps to have another person to help with holding them in place, or lightly tape them in place with masking tape just to get the measurement.
  3. Glue the 4 sides on the top of the bottom piece, so you now have an open box
  4. Paint the inside of the box a 4 or 5 value gray….the gray should be completely neutral.  Use acrylic paint.  I mixed mine.  To keep the box in place you might need to put masking tape on the corners.
  5. Using strapping tape, go all around the outsides of just the sides of the box.  I did this several times to add to the strength.
  6. Cover the ENTIRE box with wide clear plastic tape. You will do this twice.  Once going from the  long sides to the opposite long sides.  And then from the short side to the opposite side.  To do this, start at the inside corner where the side of the box meets the bottom.  Go up the side and all the way around on the outside to the opposite inside corner.  Keep this first strip along the outside edge so it will be straight.  Start the second strip overlapping the first strip a little.  Continue all the way to the end.  You now have one layer of tape on the box.
  7. Now, turn the corner and do the same thing with the short sides.  When you finish, the box will be strong and completely waterproof.  The inside bottom of the box is not covered. (Photos 4 shows this….it looks like squares)
  8. Take the box to a glass company and have them cut a thin piece of Plexiglas to just fit the bottom.  I’ve had this also done at Lowe’s, but you need the box to make sure that it fits.  Then drop the Plexiglas in.
  9. Wrap the top piece in the clear wide tape, but one time is enough.  Be sure to cover the rough edges when you do this.
  10. Purchase an adjustable bungee cord to hold the box and top together when going out to paint. A cord that is too tight might bend the box.


Palette 4

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