3 Steps to Pimping Your Art Palette

The one thing I love about a good set of paints is its packaging (and paint quality of course).

I bought the Koi Watercolour Field Sketch Travel Kit of 24 colours because it came in a convenient traveling box – and a water brush, which I’ve never tried until then. The box set was wonderful and very nifty – you have two sponges at the side to rinse off paint, a space for the water brush which can be disassembled – and of course, the compact half pans of colours themselves.

Can't wait to try out the Sakura Koi Field Sketch Box set! #sakurakoi #midoritravelersnotebook

A post shared by Michelle L. (@mishventurer) on

I bought this knowingly that this was a student grade watercolour set – all I really wanted was the compact box it came in. I still used the box diligently at first, painting simple postcards and decorating my travel journal’s pages. Then I realised something – the paints when dry, become chalky and they transfer over to the facing page. It was a nightmare.

I guess Koi is perfect for people who are just beginning to learn how to paint and who are painting on separate sheets of paper, not a sketchbook. So I decide that I needed a new set of paints to work with – but I still want to use the box set. I had already spent so much time, and used my precious stickers to decorate!

Pimped out my #sakurakoiwatercolors field sketch box. How does yours look like?

A post shared by Michelle L. (@mishventurer) on

Enter Mijello Mission Gold. I saw one of the artists I follow on Instagram using it, and the colours look pretty vibrant. I asked her about it and I also made my own research. The more I read, the more I fell in love with this brand. So I took the plunge that cost me about MYR300 for a total of 36 colours – not too bad right?

It came in such a beautiful packaging and I am so so happy I made this purchase. It really felt like a real high quality artist’s set of paints. The are from Korea and some of the colours don’t really follow the standard colour pigment recipe, but who cares? I’m not a purist, I’m just someone who wants to be able to paint with good watercolours that will last, are lightfast and won’t transfer or turn chalky.

PIMPING THE OLD TO THE NEW
So with the new tubes of colours in hand, I am now prepared to transform the old Koi watercolour box into a Mijello box.

What you need:

  1. 36 Empty half pans
  2. Toothpicks
  3. Blue tack
  4. A hard plastic board, preferably black/white
  5. Patience, lots of it

STEP 1 – REMOVAL & BUILDING THE BASE
This is how the original Koi box set looks like on the inside. All of the colours, sponges and brushes are actually placed into a plastic mould and that piece of plastic is held on to the box by double sided tape.

What you do is you rip out the plastic and you will find gridded squares at the bottom. These squares would not fit all your half pans properly, and it is quite uneven. Take your hard plastic board and roughly measure the available space – follow its shape. This is what you will get. Now stick it down with tape/glue.

STEP 2 – MOVE THE NEW HALF PANS IN
Now it’s time to move the new tenants into the box. If you prefer to have them permanently stuck in, then I suggest you use a strong glue or adhesive. For a more temporary solution, which I highly recommend in case the box cracks or gets damaged, I suggest using blue tack. It is strong enough and it allows you move things around when needed.

The box fits all the half pans perfectly from end-to-end, so I daresay you would have all 34 colours or more without any problems. I had to omit 2 extra colours because I needed to make space for my water brush.

STEP 3 – FILL IN THE PAINTS!
Probably my favourite & hated part of the process. Why? Because to avoid the filled paint from cracking, you need time for them to dry properly, and you need to do them layer-by-layer.

A note on why my paints are slanted: I do this because whenever you paint with a flat, full pan, your brush would make a hole in the middle of the paint, leaving the sides unused. Because I paint with my left hand, I slant the paint towards the right so that the brush would naturally sit on the slant as I paint and it will not create any holes in your paint. I do this by putting a paper weight below the paint box when I fill up the pans so that they will dry in a slanted manner.

Method:

  1. For each pan, I start with filling a quarter of the bottom with paint, using a toothpick to push the paint towards the corners of each pan.
  2. You need to let that layer dry completely in the next 3 days.
  3. Then you fill in the next quarter, and dry for another 3 days.
  4. Overall, it took over a week for it to properly dry (longer if it’s humid or raining) and I was itching to take my paint box out.

It’s a taxing method, but the end result are beautiful pans of paint, without any cracking or shrinkage whatsoever. And they last a long, long time. I’ve been painting at least 3 full artworks a month and my paints are still filled to the brim!

And so, the final result.

Thank you for reading! Let me know if you’ve ever attempted something like this. Oh and I use a Hudson’s Jujubes tin can to hold my metallic Finetec paints. Very handy!

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