I've drooled over the Pocket Palette by Expeditionary Art for a long time, but I just couldn't justify the purchase because... well, I didn't need it. My trusty Schmincke tin went with me everywhere, and I've been thoroughly pleased with it.
When we moved to the mountains, our family went from a 3000 sq ft house down to about 800 sq feet of space. Not a problem, but my working space was also greatly reduced. All of a sudden, my compact travel palette was needed as a studio palette.
Not a problem, except that when I would head out to sketch, I would forget to pack it. I'd find myself miles from home with everything but watercolors.
I thought about buying something cheap, but the Pocket Palette kept calling to me. Plus, this palette seemed to fit all my criteria for a decent palette—portable with full, shallow, removable pans and separated mixing wells (if I added in the jumbo tins).
I finally decided to take the plunge and order one. I've been using the Pocket Palette for several weeks now, and below is my complete review.
The Pocket Palette Order
When I was drooling over the Pocket Palette online, my only concern (besides the cost) was that the tiny lid wouldn't provide enough mixing space. Because of this concern, I planned to fill the Pocket Palette with my 6-color palette and then fill in any extra spaces with the jumbo and/or mixing pans that are sold separately.
Here's what I ordered:
• Pocket Palette - $30
• Pocket Mister - $2.50 (very cute; couldn't resist)
• Set of 3 mixing pans - $5
• Set of 6 jumbo pans - $5
Expeditionary Art's shipping was extremely affordable, so my total cost came in at less than $50. Not cheap but about the same as a Schmincke tin, and the Pocket Palette comes with pans. Plus, I was happy to support another artist.
I'm a bit of a sucker for pretty packaging, and opening the Expeditionary Art box felt like a present. I had carefully read the palette's description online, but when I pulled it out of the box, I was surprised at how sleek and slim it appeared. When closed, it looks like a business card holder— a well made business card holder because even though the palette is lightweight, it feels very substantial and sturdy.
As pretty as everything was, what I really cared about was how this palette was going to perform. To take this palette for a full test drive, I decided to go ahead and stock it with my 12-color favorites. After all, I could always change things up later.
The Pocket Palette in Action
The past few weeks, I've been using the palette in a variety of situations, and I love that I can use it standing or sitting. The palette easily attaches to the side of my sketchbook with a binder clip, but it's so lightweight and sturdy that I've often braced it with my thumb while painting.
(It's difficult to see the Pocket Palette in the photo above— my left thumb is bracing it against my sketchbook— but Husband took this photo of me using it in the field. Before now, I've never been able to stand and paint so easily, and I'm enjoying not getting my bum wet!)
About the mixing space... Even with 12 full-size pans, I was able to add a jumbo pan that I use for lighter mixes. Since I paint small in the field, so far, the lid of the Pocket Palette has been enough. Switching to my 6-color palette would free up more mixing space, but for now, I'm really, really enjoying this current setup for on-the-go sketching.
P.S. I've recently added a video comparing the EA Pocket Palette to two other portable palettes. You can view it on my channel here.
Final Review on the Pocket Palette
After using this palette extensively, indoors and out, these past few weeks, I'm very happy I went ahead and splurged for the Pocket Palette. I think it is well worth the very moderate sum that I paid for it.
• It's beautiful yet strong and holds a surprisingly fair amount of pigment. (I haven't had to refill a pan yet!)
• The pans stay put. (I dropped this palette while it was open, and the pans shifted a bit but nothing popped out.)
• It's extremely lightweight (my current setup including paints weighs 57 grams, or less than 2 ounces) and takes up very little space. It literally fits in a shirt or pants pocket.
If I could change a few things, I would, but these are minor issues... [Update! Since I wrote this review, another issue has surfaced. Please see "Rust Problems" below.]
• The metal lip at the bottom row of pans can be a bit distracting, but I can't say that it has ever really gotten in my way. Still, it would be nice if it was less obtrusive.
• I would also like the option to add this surface to the bottoms of the jumbo and mixing pans. (I'm sure I could cut a piece of white shelf liner paper to fit, but a production cut would probably be much cleaner than mine.)
Again, these are minor issues. I can honestly say that if anything ever happens to this palette, I'd purchase one again in a heartbeat!
Review Update! Rust Problems in the Pocket Palette
I'm writing this update a few months later, and I'm sad to report that I've had a serious issue with rust in my Pocket Palette. We live in a temperate rainforest climate and I use a lot of honey-based pigments, so these situations may have contributed to the problem.
However, I'm fairly finicky with my art supplies and take good care of them. I always make sure things are clean and dry before I pack them away, so I'm a bit baffled by the rust which seems to be contained solely to the pans. Thankfully, the palette itself is fine.
I reached out to Maria with my concern and being the super trooper that she is, she immediately offered to replace my pans. GOOD NEWS! In December 2017, Maria released all new pans that are specially coated and not prone to rust. All of her products now include these new and improved pans.
In the meantime, if you've had minor rust in your Pocket Palette, Maria has written about a quick fix here. However, if you've suffered from serious rust issues like I have, please reach out to her via email at maria (at) expeditionaryart (dot) com. She's amazing and will be happy to work out a solution with you!
Coupon for a Pocket Palette Discount! [Expired]
I was so pleased with the Pocket Palette that I emailed Maria with my compliments, and she kindly agreed to offer SJ readers a 15-percent discount!
This gracious discount is good on your entire purchase prior to shipping. Just click on the palette to be taken to the Expeditionary Art store, and happy painting!