Tag Archives: Watercolors

Peerless Watercolors in the Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Not too long ago a friend gifted me with a sampler set of six Peerless Watercolors. What are they? Forget about tube or pan watercolor paints – Peerless Watercolors are these awesome PAPER-BASED paints that when activated with water perform like any other watercolors.

Here is the 6-color sampler set my friend gave me:


Peerless Watercolors are available online from Amazon and other retailers. I was lucky enough to find them in person this weekend when I was visiting a local store, Two Hands Paperie in Boulder Colorado. I found the Peerless Watercolor Papers Bonus Pack (Small), a set of 40 different 2×2″ square watercolor papers.

The bonus pack was arranged in order, as was described on the packaging – important because the individual color swatches aren’t labeled. Once I got it home, I was so excited to show them off and test them I got them all mixed up, and couldn’t put them in that same order again.


They’re really fun, vivid bright watercolors. And so travel-friendly and portable! So I have this laminated “dashboard” for my fauxdori / midori traveler’s notebook planner. I bought it from ToDie4Planning on Etsy. Dashboards are used to hold sticky notes, washi tape, images, basically a more solid surface for whatever you want to use them for. I picked this one because it’s a glittery seafoam green color called “mermaid” on the outside (just plain white on the inside) – a perfect match for my planner cover.


Problem is, I really didn’t use it. Like, at all. It was basically pretty but pointless, sitting there in my planner. So I was posting pics of my new Peerless Watercolors this weekend to Instagram, and in looking at the hashtag noticed a couple of people had cut up the sheets into little pieces and made traveling palettes for their planners. And I thought, AHA!! That’s a perfect use for this dashboard – it’s a sturdy plastic base for these paints.


I assembled some supplies. The watercolors, the dashboard, a composite wooden board I use to clip drawing paper to, a waterbrush, glue, scissors.


First, I cut a sheet of watercolor paper into two pieces the same size as each half of the dashboard. This was to be my surface, because not only did I want to glue the Peerless pieces to them, I also wanted to dab a swatch of paint next to each one. And the laminated surface of the dashboard as is wouldn’t work for that at all. I rounded the corners of the outside edges, and glued them to the inside of the dashboard.


It’s a little lumpy looking now, but that won’t be noticeable by the time I’m done.


So then I had to decide what size pieces of watercolor to arrange in my palette. I had 40 colors total in the Bonus Pack, so knew I needed 20 per side, and needed a decent spot next to each to dab the actual color with the waterbrush. I cut a 1/2″ strip off each square, and then cut that into a 1″ piece – so each piece ended up being 1/2″ x 1″.

I was going to start numbering each mini piece to the larger square, hence the white numbers in this pic, but then figured eh, screw it. They were already hopelessly mixed up anyways!


Arranging the colors. The thought was two columns of 10 colors per side. Problem was, all the handling of these pieces gets your fingers mega messy! And then the white watercolor paper I was going to glue to started to get all messy too. I had to move all the pieces off of my base and get them in the order I wanted and erase all the marks they left on my paper.


So then I started gluing one by one, struggling to remember to glue the pretty painted side down, so that the actual transparent watercolor side was available for me to use.


Problem is, the glue kinda seeped out over the edges of each piece as I glued it – and I soon learned that if I wiped it off, it either got glue all over the top, which I didn’t want, or would get color over the white spaces. Take a look at these close-ups.



The next step was to take my waterbrush and make a sample of each color next to each Peerless Watercolor piece.


I’m going to take some onion skin/Tomoe River Paper and cut a piece to fit over the watercolor pieces so they don’t rub against each other. Hopefully the glue sticks!! So far they haven’t popped off yet. I slid the old dashboard / new watercolor palette through an elastic in my fauxdori cover – my plan is to leave it as a standalone insert in the planner, and not piggyback it around any other refill – I want to see both sides of the paints in one glance. Here it is in my planner.


I had extra pieces of Peerless Watercolors left over, 1/2″ x 1″ because of those strips from each square cut in half. So I thought I’d make another portable palette to use with my various sketchbooks. But I didn’t have any extra laminated “dashboards” left over to use as my base.

I did have some extra plastic cutting mats thought, the result of my plastic Circa planner cover experiments. Most of my sketchbooks are 8.5″ x 5.5″, so I cut a sheet into a 8.25″ x 5.25″ piece, rounded the edges, and cut a piece of watercolor paper to glue to it, following the same process as above. Then glued down the pieces and made swatches.


Problem is, the watercolor paper top wouldn’t stick to the plastic cutting board base no matter how much glue I used! It’s already popped off. I have glue dots holding it on for the time being, but don’t think those will last very long – that’s what experimenting is for though! I’ll just slide this sheet into my other sketchbooks when I’m not using the planner palette.

Meanwhile, some other links on Peerless Watercolors:

DIY Altoids Watercolor Paint Box

Since I started exploring watercolors, I’ve come across the “use an old Altoids tin as a travel paint box” trick several times, and it’s always intrigued me. It just looks so easy to do! It combines being creative and MacGyver-y with materials you either already have on hand or that are easily accessible, so win-win right?

And also, regular watercolor tin boxes can get crazy expensive! Nobody said art was a cheap calling, but still – I’m just getting started and haven’t even graduated to all non-student-grade paints yet!

So I started reviewing all the different methods and suggestions people had for creating their own Altoids paint boxes, like in these links:

So, after perusing enough links to get an idea of how to get started, I decided to try using magnets to hold the watercolor pans in place. I assembled the following materials:


Making A DIY Altoids Watercolor Tin:  Assembling The Materials

Step One: Determine Your Box Arrangement

First lesson learned – these paint boxes are waaay smaller than I thought they’d be!! I ordered 6 half pans and 2 full pans, thinking I wouldn’t be able to get all them in. But actually I have room for more – at least 2-3 half more at least. I think I’ll be ordering a few more in both sizes to experiment with finding the perfect combination. Right now I have a weird gap on the side because I had too few pans.

Step Two: Attach The Magnets

Once you’ve found a paint box layout you like, attach the adhesive magnets. The set I found had them pre-scored into 1″ squares. Cutting each square in half worked perfectly for the full paint pans, and in quarters for the half pans.  They stick to the Altoids tin firmly, and even when the tin is held upside down and shaken, they didn’t fall out.

Step Three: Add The Paint

I chose the following pigments as my test paint palette – all Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor tubes:


Making A DIY Altoids Watercolor Tin:  Adding The Paint

Step Four: Final Touches

The paint will dry out to avoid messiness when traveling, and can be reactivated with drops of water, or kept moist by adding a drop of glycerine. I didn’t have anything handy to add to it, so am just going to let them air-dry and add water as needed. Ideally, in the future I will find a waterproof or enamel paint to coat the inside of the lid, so I can use it as a mixing surface. But for now, I created a mini watercolor chart to show what combinations I can get from the palette I chose. I also added a square of parchment paper to put over the paints just in case they did fall out of the pans or get messy.


Making A DIY Altoids Watercolor Tin:  Adding Final Touches

Extra Step: Making a Watercolor Color Chart

Of course, whenever getting new paints I want to make a watercolor chart! So I made both a full (sketchbook sized) version, and a little mini version to keep with the Altoids tin. I think my beginner paint choices were good ones – I can get some pretty nice secondary colors like oranges, greens and purples from the 7 colors I chose. Some action shots of the color charting process, just for fun!




The Final Result!

So, here it is in all its glory! It has some future tweaks – including coating the lid for a mixing surface, and adding some extra pans or a sponge or somehow using the blank space. But otherwise I’m really pleased with how it turned out!!

Making A DIY Altoids Watercolor Tin:  The Final Result!

Making A DIY Altoids Watercolor Tin: The Final Result!

DIY Circa Sketchbook Follow-Up

I posted back in October about creating a watercolor sketchbook in a discbound format, and thought ‘d show how it currently looks.

I’m still using clear plastic front and back covers as in my previous post, but in the interest of an even slimmer and more portable sketchbook, swapped out the pretty 3/4″ Spectra discs for the plain but smaller 1/2″ discs. I’ve added a matching black adhesive Leuctthurm1917 pen loop. The coversheet is from the now-defunct Office Depot Revolution brand notebooks.


My DIY Discbound Sketchbook

Side view:


Open layout:


Another view:


All in all, still very pleased with how it turned out, but now its even more purse-friendly!


Reeves Watercolors – My Christmas Stocking Stuffer

My only explorations with watercolors before now have been via Derwent Inktense pencils or the Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box, which has pans of paint. And really I’m such a beginner I don’t even know proper mixing or painting techniques yet anyways. But have slowly started researching tube paints for when I’m ready to make that next step up in my art supplies. But THEN, I opened up my Christmas stocking to discover some Reeves Watercolors tubes! Yes, I know enough from my research to realize that they are student-grade, economical entry-level paints, but I’m okay with that – I’m still learning the basics anyways! I can upgrade later once I make full use of these.

I received a limited palette of 9 colors: black, white, brown, red, green, blue and three yellows. So I started by making a color chart following the tutorial here. Using a sheet from my 9 x 6 discbound sketchbook, I decided to skip the black color to avoid a chart that was too dark, and just used the others. So created a table with 8 rows and 8 columns.


It was a learning experience trying to determine the optimum amount of paint needed to mix the colors without wasting any. The resulting color chart I actually think is pretty ugly. A very 70’s mix of dark oranges, greens and browns. But this could just reflect my mixing inexperience too! So I will continue playing and try again in the future.


Koi Watercolors Color Mixing Chart

I was inspired recently by getting some tubes of Reeves Watercolor paint in my Christmas stocking to get out my Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box, 24 Color Set and create a color chart. But it’s been about 18 years since my college art classes, so I kinda forgot how to set one up! So off to the Interwebs I went in search of instructions on how to create a basic color chart, and really liked this tutorial from Jenny’s Sketchbook: How To Make A Watercolor Chart.

So here is the fruit of my labor, I really like how it turns out. I think next time I may follow the steps linked at the bottom of this post to Susan Savad’s site – it incorporates white into each of the color mixes. But in the meantime, my color chart prettiness!

I wanted to use my custom-made 9′ x 6′ discbound sketchbook for the color chart, so couldn’t fit all 24 colors in my Koi set into a table that fit on the paper. I had to limit myself to 12 colors ( a difficult choice!), and then set up my paper with 12 rows and 12 columns. In the pic below, I’m using a piece of particle-board and some art clips I got at my local art supplies store, it’s perfect for projects like this!


Koi Watercolors Color Chart

Being new to watercolors, it took me awhile to get the hang of mixing colors from pan paints like this, but I got there eventually!


Almost finished here …. one thing I learned is I go through water like crazy. I ended up using one bowl to rinse most of the paint off, then another to do a final swipe before putting in the paint again. But still, I was refilling these CONSTANTLY.


I also need to work on neater “boxes” cause mine were all sorts of messy! I also smeared the last three bottom labels on the bottom, and then tried to cover them with white paint, but then couldn’t write over them well, so they look terrible.


The completed chart! I had such fun making this, the hours literally FLEW by. I’ll definitely refine my technique and do it again.


Some other resources on making Watercolor Charts:

Also Useful: How to Mix Watercolor Paints

My DIY Circa Sketchbook

So, I was inspired after seeing the sketchbooks others have made (see my post from yesterday). So I decided to make a discbound sketchbook with some Levenger Circa discs and watercolor paper. I had a pad of Canson 9″ x 12″ and trimmed it down to fit a clear plastic Circa/Arc /Office Depot Revolution cover.


The watercolor paper came in a pad of 15 sheets. Each was cut in half and needed half an inch on the top edge trimmed per page, and they fit perfectly in the Office Depot Revolution clear plastic cover I’m using. The pages ended up being slightly wider than the usual Circa/Arc refill page size. And picking a disc color was hard! I decided to try the Levenger Circa Spectra discs I just got because they are fun and colorful.


I decided I wanted the new DIY Circa sketchbook coversheet that goes under the clear plastic cover needed to have lots of blue, to match the discs. I found this perfect sized wooden board at my art store, it’s perfect for this paper size.


The finished inside cover of the DIY Circa sketchbook.


These Levenger Circa Spectra discs you guys, are going to drive me INSANE. I have developed a compulsive need for all the stripes to line up just so. If they don’t – which happens every page turn – it’s just ALL WRONG. ARGH.


All in all, I really like how this turned out. Excited to see how it works in regular use.

Just like how this turned out.

Pretty colors, pleased with this.

Koi Watercolors Color Chart

Color chart of my Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box set, 24 ct.


Mmm, loving this 7×7 sketchbook!

A page spread in my Stillman and Birn Zeta Series 7×7 sketchbook. Loving the blues on these pages. Made with the Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box set and outlined with Faber-Castell Pitt brush pens.

Koi Watercolors and the Stillman & Birn

Playing with my new Koi Watercolors Pocket Field Sketch Box and my Stillman & Birn Zeta 7×7 sketchbook. It really came together after I outlined it with my Faber-Castell Pitt brush pen.