Original Pocket Palette by Expeditionary Art

I finally completed filling my Pocket Palette yesterday! It looks so pretty - though I'm sure it won't stay like this for too long. I purchased this lovely piece of kit a while back, but I am just now getting it ready to use. I will be taking it with me to paint on work breaks.

At only 3.6″ long, 2.25″ wide and 0.25" thick, it is truly the smallest watercolour palette that I have seen and only a wee bigger than the size of a regular business card! It's made from aluminum which makes it extremely light weight, even with the paint pans filled - weighing less than a small travel bar of soap. However, at the same time, it doesn't seem like the palette would be easily dented or dinged, so it's obviously good quality. I have seen that they used to come in a shiny finish, but the one I have is a very nice 'brushed/matte' finish which I prefer (prevents fingerprints from showing, unless they're paint covered!) 

I chose to fill my palette with mostly Da Vinci Pro Watercolors, except for two Daniel Smith shades.

I purchased the original Pocket Palette from ExpeditionaryArt on Etsy. You can also purchase different pan dimensions and combinations. I opted for the standard 12 "full" pans. (I say "full" but these pans are much flatter/thinner than the regular plastic full pans most of us are used to, obviously). I ordered another extra set of 12 full pans and also half pans, so I can switch out colours as I need to. Also included is the little carrying pouch with the logo, as well as a small water mister.

The small ceramic mixing palette you see in the photo is not included with the Pocket Palette, but it will fit in the pouch too, to provide more mixing space. Even though it's twice as heavy as the full Pocket Palette itself, I personally cannot do without a ceramic surface for mixing. Not to mention, I love the fact it's handmade. (Ceramic mixing palette by whiterabbit21.etsy.com.)

  • Lays completely flat when open.
  • Very light, small, portable size - making it easy to clip onto a sketchbook 
  • Magnet strip on bottom of case holds the pans in place and they don't budge until you want them to. Very handy for changing out colours when you want to change up your palette. This is my first magnetized palette and I love it!
  • Unlike a lot of metal palettes, this one has a white mixing area, 'plastic-y card', on the inside of the lid. It will stain with certain pigments, but a magic eraser will clean it off pretty well.
  • I love the little water mister that comes with the palette.

  • Cost. Quality is never cheap. The Pocket Palette will set you back $30 USD/$38 CAD or more if you wish to purchase extra pans + shipping.
  • The bottom "lip" of the palette, which is necessary to hold in the paint pans, can be a drawback because it slightly covers the bottom row of pans making them less accessible. Also, as the lip covers the bottom parts of the pans, you have to make sure your paint pan isn't filled too high; give yourself some clearance there or else you'll have a mess! (I learned the hard way.) To lessen how deep my bottom row of pans lay in my palette, I cut a small piece of cellulose sponge to fit inside the bottom of the lip. It doesn't remove the overlap completely, but more of my bottom row of pans are exposed now... it's not a complete fix but a slight work around.
  • The thin, low pans can be very fiddly to fill, especially if you have big hands and/or don't have the steadiest of hands. Normally, I'm pretty good with my hands, but I made a mess with these and had to start over with a couple of them. (But then again, I should know better not to do fiddly things when I'm tired. Mostly my fault.)
  • You need to purchase the Pocket Palette tins to fit this palette (though I have heard that they are interchangeable with some other magnetized smaller travel tins, like Woodford&Father). This a very thin palette, which is good for portability, but it will not fit 'regular' plastic pans, full or half, as they have a too-high profile obviously.
- Don't overfill your pans! I would suggest filling the pans 3/4 full at the most. I filled some of mine too much and I ended up with a mess when I tried to close the lid, even when the paints were mostly dry after 24 hours. I also had a clean-up job ahead of me when I slid some too-full pans on the bottom row under the 'lip'. Oops. So I took some paint out of each pan and that solved the problem. 
- I've read some reviewers of this palette had some issue with rust forming on their pans, even if kept clean. This issue was addressed recently by the palette's creator Maria Coryell-Martin of Expeditionary Art, thankfully. (I don't know if I have the updated rust-resistant pans or not but I guess time will tell.) <-- Edit to add that Maria very kindly emailed me and confirmed that my pans are the new rust-resistant ones. Yay!

While I haven't used it yet, I can certainly say at this point I'm sure this little palette will serve me well for what I need it for - watercolour painting on the go!

UPDATE from Jan. 18/2018: Well it's been a couple days since I set up my palette and obviously my pans were still too full! At work the other day, I opened up my previously-dry palette, only to find paint oozing all over top lid. Ugh. I don't think the heat in the car helped either. :( Sad sight! Going to have scrape out the tins and restart filling only half way. Sigh. (Not wasting the paint though!) I'm wondering too if the little piece of sponge I put at the bottom of the tray is somehow pushing up the paint pans for some reason. I'm going to remove it and see how that goes.

UPDATE from Jan. 20/2018: I finished cleaning up my palette today and on inspection the only paints that oozed and got stuck to the top cover were the Da Vinci paints and not the Daniel Smiths (the latter which were hard as a rock, as per usual). I'm learning that DV paints - new to my palette - stay relatively moist... they're more creamy and re-wet in an awesome way, but they definitely need a longer drying time than most DS paints. I took some extra paint out of the pans as well, just to be on the safe side. The palette is back to its pretty self again and ready to go. Can't wait to use it!


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful review, Bev! You do have the rust-resistant pans, I launched them in November 2017, when I also introduced the tiny "half size" pans. I appreciate hearing about your experience filling the palette. I am most familiar with Daniel Smith paints and I find I can fill the pans up to their brim, but do need to wait a full day (sometimes more) for them to dry completely. Your method of half-filling them, waiting, and filling them more also works well. I'll put together a post on my website with more tips. :) I assemble the Pocket Palettes myself and am thrilled to share them with artists around the world- I hope yours accompanies you on many adventures, big and small. Happy sketching and please let me know if you have any more feedback or questions! Best wishes, Maria

    1. Thank you so much, Maria, for confirming I have the new pans. I really love your little palette and I know it will serve as a great traveling companion. I am giving my DaVinci paints a little longer to dry and I'm sure that will prevent the oozing issue in the future. (The DS paints didn't run at all.) It was such a pleasure hearing from you. :)


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