A while back, I noticed a really unique, handmade watercolor palette on Instagram. I was intrigued by the size and construction of it so I reached out to the creators, a team known as Woodward & Father.
The “Woodward” half of the team (or at least one of the Woodward halves) is Katie, a sweet lady and talented artist who developed these palettes alongside the chief fabricator and “Father” of the team, her dad (also a Woodward). I’m rather close with my own dad, so I loved the spirit and heart of their company!
I ordered Woodward & Father’s standard palette* along with the big brush pan pack because I usually paint with a size 10 or 12 round. (Looking back, I probably should have ordered the big brush palette, but I don't mind the extra pans. You’ll see why in a minute.) As soon as the palette arrived, I filled it and put it to good use.
First Impressions of Woodward & Father
I’m a novice mycologist and I’ve wanted a palette exclusively for when I’m out hunting mushrooms and fungi. At first, I filled the palette with my favorite mushroom sketching colors. This worked for about a week until I discovered that I loved this watercolor palette so much that I wanted to use it for more than just mushrooms.
Most of my mushroomy colors are in my regular palette, so I quickly rearranged the pans and added a few more colors (hence the necessity of extra pans.) Pictured above is the final result.
This palette worked great for both nature and urban sketching, and I really enjoyed using it on a recent jaunt to Asheville, NC. It clips easily to the side of my sketchbook and also balances perfectly in my lap or on various park benches and tree stumps.
Woodward & Father palettes must be as unique as I originally thought because I had a hard time sketching the scene above without interruption. Several bystanders stopped to ask questions about painting in general, but quite a few who knew a bit about watercolor also asked about the palette. Downtown demo in action!
(One man said that I should upgrade to a brass palette. I replied that I would happily do so if he would foot the bill. He ambled away without much of a response. Apparently, he wasn't up for the challenge.)
Woodward & Father Palette Positives
Enameled Surface: In the past, I’ve had problems with rust in similar palettes. So far, I haven’t noticed any signs of rust in the Woodward & Father palette. Dick and Katie have coated the insides of the tin and the pan surfaces with a heavy-duty enamel that should (I hope) keep rust problems from ever occurring.
And how do I know the enamel is heavy duty? I’m one of those weird Phthalo Green lovers—you know, that color that stains everything in its path—yet so far Phthalo hasn't stained the mixing surface one bit. Even potent Pyrrol red and intense Quins wipe right off. Not that I’m picky about staining, but still, I’m impressed!
Pan Selection & Layout: I also really like the variety of pan sizes and the fact that they work well together inside the square tin. My big brushes fit easily into the pans, and since I'm a big brush girl, this is a huge asset for me.
Expert tip: Don’t fill the pans completely! Blobbing (official watercolor term?) the paint in the middle of the pan allows dirty water and pigment to run off, keeps unreachable pigment out of the corners, and raises the pigment surface thus protecting brush fibers.
Magnet Strength: I also love the magnetic surface that holds the pans in place. It is strong enough that the pans don’t move, or at least I haven’t had any trouble. You can see an quick example of the magnet's strength in the video below.
Katie and I were recently discussing the magnet on Facebook, so I’ll share her words so you can understand a bit of the care she put into the development of this palette.
"I did some searching for the right magnet for the job. When I first started making them for myself the magnets were too weak, so I was looking for something that could withstand a little more shock. Sometimes pans still fall out if the palette is dropped on a hard surface, but for the most part they should stay put! It makes the palette slightly heavier but I think it's worth the extra couple of ounces."
Sometime in the near future, I'll test this palette in a drop without even trying (I’m talented like that) but I don’t know too many palettes that can take that kind of abuse without some shifting, so I don’t consider that a concern.
Insofar as weight goes, crammed as above with an assortment of 16 pans and paints, the palette still weighs a mere 4 ounces, or about 12 grams. I think I can manage.
Any Negatives? So far, I haven’t found any. The Woodward & Father watercolor palette is well designed, lightweight, and perfectly portable. However, if I notice anything amiss in the future, I’ll certainly update this post.
Woodward & Father Sketch Board
Already on my wish list is a Woodward & Father sketch board. I haven’t tried these out yet, but when my budget allows, I would dearly love to do so!
Woodward & Father fiberglass sketching boards come in three sizes—a mini, original, and XL—and have finished holes to hold pens, brushes, and a 2-oz Nalgene water cup (included with purchase). The description says that the board is sturdy yet only weights 8 ounces.
Woodward & Father offers the boards in either a right-handed or left-handed version. The description says the left-handed version has the water cup in the upper right corner. Even though I’m right-handed, I often drip water when painting and like my water cup to be as close to my right hand as possible, so I would probably prefer the left-handed version.
If you’re interested in ordering one, take time to consider how you typically paint. (It took me nearly two months along with seeing a custom set-up before I could finally decide. I’m slow like that.) Woodward & Father does offer customized boards, so feel free to contact them about your individual needs.
Video: Comparison of Portable Palettes
In the past, I’ve profiled and reviewed the Expeditionary Art travel palette along with several other watercolor tins that could easily work as travel palettes. Whichever palette(s) you choose and like to use will probably boil down to budget and personal preference.
To show how the Woodward & Father palette compares to other options, I put together a short video comparing three portable watercolor tins: Woodward & Father, Expeditionary Art, and American Journey Nomad. Hope this helps you make a wise, informed decision!
Woodward & Father Discount! [EXPIRED]
Dick and Katie have graciously agreed to offer SJ readers a generous 10-percent discount! This coupon is good now through November 10, 2017, at their Etsy store for your purchase prior to shipping. Happy saving & happy painting!
To save 10%, click on the button to be taken to the Woodward & Father storefront and enter the code “SCRATCHMADE” at checkout.
This offer has ended, but be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to stay in touch and receive first notice of future discounts, freebies & giveaways along with bonus subscriber goodies!
*I'm grateful that Woodward & Father granted my humble request for a discount prior to purchase so I could test this beautiful palette, but I promised no review or promotion in return nor do I receive any benefit from your Woodward & Father purchase. Refer to my full policy disclosure here. No matter what, I am committed to sharing my honest opinions—positive and negative—with you. You deserve no less than the truth & I appreciate your readership very much!