Sunday, 15 August 2010

Palettes Pt 2

Part one discussed the many plastic palettes on offer, indeed many were omitted, but suffice to say a huge range costs from as little as 50p upwards to near £30 ($42), the majority under £20 ($28). They are freely available from art shops and the large mail order specialists. I also covered the cheaper empty metal palettes, again freely available via mail order, with the largest and dearest upwards of £30 ($42). What you pick is a matter of personal choice depending upon cost and how you paint. Obviously large flat or round brushes and large washes call for a large pallette, or deep enamel pans of various sorts.Plein air painting needs a smaller  more convenient palette, although Mel Stabin uses his John Pike palette for all his painting, including plein air. See his setup in his Watson Guptill book `Watercolor, Simple, Fast and Focussed'.  

Of these sorts my preference is the John Pike for studio work, although I use my Craig Young Paintbox and even the Sketcher's box, for virtually all my paintings, studio or plein air. I also like the Zoltan Szabo palette, albeit it is flimsy being vacuum formed. Other than that I would opt for a large empty metal box and fill it with half and full pans.

My Craig Young Palettes. Two in British Racing Green the other brass.


The same palettes open. The Palette Box is yet to be christened.

Craig Young palettes are very expensive. That is a given so either many artists cannot afford to pay so much or prefer to have a cheaper option. I don't disagree with that as buying them is something of an indulgence, although many top professional artists have one or other and many serious amateurs. Charles Reid, who previously used a Holbein now has at least four from Craig Young and personally requested he make the Sketcher's box. Judi Whitton has a Sketcher's Box with 20 wells instead of sixteen and I have a small four well extension to clip onto mine. Craig is open to special requests.

The discussion about Craig's boxes on Wetcanvas tilted towards buying one or other of the better quality `heavy duty' boxes, used by Winsor and Newton, complete with either half or full pans of paint.  These  boxes come at a high price, especially if you already have most of the colours. They are a great Xmas or birthday present! The question was asked were they available empty and soon information was flowing from posters giving the options. Some `professional' boxes are listed by the suppliers highlighted in Part one but tend to be isolated examples. What are the alternatives? There are two main ones, either from Holbein or made by the Italian metal working specialists  Fome www.fome.it/.

In the UK Heaton Cooper  http://www.heatoncooper.co.uk/ list 12 empty metal palettes, four from Holbein (250/350/500/1000) and four from an unidentified manufacturer (possibly Fome) that are `hand enamelled'. The remaining four are logo'd Scminke and are the lightweight sort. They are all very well illustrated on the website with plenty of information. Prices of the hand-enamelled models range from £18.45  (approx. $26) to £54.95 (approx.$75)  with three having 12 half pan wells and one full pans. Heaton Cooper tend to be expensive and charge carriage extra. The other source is Jacksons http://www.jacksonsart.co.uk/  who have just added Holbein to their range, so new that they are not in the most recent catalogue. Search the website for `holbein palettes'. Prices are cheaper than Heaton Cooper and no carriage charges are applied if your total order exceeds £39 UK or £100 Europe. Other destinations ring for a quote. There may well be other sources but these are the only ones I know about as things stand. If further information comes to hand I'll post it.

In the USA one source of a heavy duty palette has been identified as Natural Pigments www.naturalpigments.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_id=624-2096. This is a heavy duty box with 12 wells that sells at $57. According to Robert Armas, who has ordered one and is waiting delivery (delayed), the name Rublev, which appears on many of the products on the site, is involved and he suspects it could be Russian in origin rather then the Italian Fome. Actually it is listed as a Fome. I have not looked at any of the other major USA mail order specialists yet but I'd be surprised if names like Dick Blick, Jerry's, Cheap Joe's and Art Express had nothing similar to offer.

A final word. Look at this website http://www.greenandstone.com/. This old company are in Chelsea, London and sell, amongst other things, antique palettes. I'm not suggesting you buy one but have a look if you are interested . Not a Binning Munro nor a Roberson in sight however!  

31 comments:

Robert P. Armas said...

Nice article Peter.I'm honored you mentioned my name;).I have to retract my suspected opinion of Russian origin of the discussed palette.It's listed in Natural Pigments as a Fome product,besides if you look at the model number(624-2096)and then look into the Fome website,you will find a picture of three palettes(2095 to 2097) and there is pictured a model 2096,which looks identical to the one pictured and sold at Natural Pigments..That gives away the origin.It's a Fome product.
I send an email to Fome just to verify if it has the metal ring or loop on the bottom(something crucial to me) mentioned on the description of the Natural Pigments website.I'll be calling Natural Pigments tomorrow too for the same reason.My worries arised since I found a similar one,also made by Fome,sold At Jeryy's Artarama and Art Supplies Warehouse(ASW)(same company both)but confirmed it doesn't have a metal ring or loop at the bottom.
I'll let you know what I find about this model #2096.If it has the ring or loop it is a quite good alternative to a Craig Young Paintbox.Consider too that is made of heavy steel and enameled.Seems to be a quality palette that can accommodate your mix and match choice of empty half and whole pans filled with the colors of your choice.

Robert

Peter Ward said...

Yes Robert. I looked up the natural pigments site and saw they showed the manufacturer as Fome so posted an amendment. This was prior to your confirmation comment. I've also looked at ASW,Art Express, Dick Blick and Cheap Joe's and was surprised none of them seemed to have these heavy duty Fome palettes although Holbein was listed by at least one of them. They seem to major on individually named artist's palettes like `Frank Webb', `Tony Lynch' etc. Mostly these are plastic vacuum formed palettes and are generally similar. A lot of them seem to me pretty pointless. Just a marketing gimmick in many cases.

Robert P. Armas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert P. Armas said...

Peter,a call to Natural Pigments confirmed that all the Fome watercolor palettes of that type they carry have the metal loop or ring on the outside bottom.That's a relief and great find.I think that at last I have found an ideal watercolor palette:made of heavy steel,enameled,suitable for studio or plein air painting and flexible as to the choice of half or whole pans combination of my choice and liking.Something not expensive as a Craig Young one,yet a durable true palette.
Peter,is funny that all those "artists named palettes" besides being cheaply constructed are a big expensive for what they are.Oh,well.
I'm just kind of shocked by the fact that such good palettes made by Fome are not widely sold here.That is not common in the American business-mind mentality and practice.

Mick Carney said...

Another informative piece and obviously generating some interest. I now own about half a dozen palettes and have been promising to keep it at that but your posts start the purchase muscles twitching. Having said that I swear by my Craig Young boxes.

Peter Ward said...

I'm also pleased I own my Craig palettes Mick but for many people price is an issue. The alternative heavy duty metal palettes that are available, Holbein and Fome in particular, but not widely so, are a very viable alternative at a much lower price. Robert was recently quoted (posted on Wetcanvas)Over $400(approx.£320) including carriage. If that is correct, much more than I paid, then I'd balk at paying it.

Peter Ward said...

Just read on Wetcanvas that one poster has recently been quoted £205 + £15 (Slovakia)for The Craig Young Paintbox.

Prophetella said...

I am desperately searching for a Maxwell Palette here in the US or something with a nice thick plastic, squared corners and the paint wells reach the main wells without a bar, wall or block of any kind. I also love that it has a Lid.

I have a 4yo and a tree that sheds year round so lids are important as is the ability to seal and leave the palette once a bit of spritz is added. I currently use a much smaller Mijello 'Artelleir Air-tight' Palette which I have had to pad the seal with kneadable eraser due to it being squished and shipped as such. I figure I could do the same with silly putty on a Maxwell for a bit more airtightness. As I paint with Acrylics and try to limit my water application I really enjoy the freedom of a palette I can get every bit of paint out of the very first try.

Victoria said...

Great article!

I do have a bit of a sad tale. I was pleased to find a small heavy duty Holbein on a trip to France a few years ago. But was disappointed when getting it home, to discover that some of the paint slots leak - the paint runs everywhere contaminate my washes. However, as they say, you pay your nickel and you take your chances. So I'm still on the hunt, and look forward to checking out the Fome models you list here. Thanks for the tips.

Peter Ward said...

Prophetella the Maxwell palette is available from Ken Bromley in the UK but carriage costs might be a problem. As I only paint in watercolour I'm not sure what the best palette is for acrylics. What about the John Pike? Reading your requirements it certainly meets some of them.
Victoria. Thanks for those comments. I think the Holbein palettes are generally good. There was a complaint on Wetcanvas from one poster, but his original supplier and Holbein both were very good in providing a replacement.
From all accounts Fome are very good. This Italian company specialize in metalwork and have a very good reputation.

Robert P. Armas said...

Peter,I recently dug deeper into the US distributors of FOME palettes Jerry's Artarama and ASW Express(since their customer rep. told over the phone that the 12 whole palette that they carry is indeed from FOME but didn't have the ring on the bottom)and the vice-president of customer relations and sales confirmed my belief: it's from FOME and is model 2096 with the metal finger loop on the bottom.Prices:$49.99 at Jerry's and $44.95 at ASW.

Peter Ward said...

Robert, I haven't seen a Fome in the flesh,only photographs, but certainly the way I paint, the Charles Reid way - at least I try to do it his way - the 12 full pan version would be my palette of choice as a much cheaper alternative to the hand made Craig Young products, BUT much better quality and longer lasting than the cheap tin metal boxes. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the Spanish box you are buying, but I can't believe at the price it can be a similar quality. A lot depends on how you paint and what size of brushes are used but I would have a mix of full and half pans that I would fill with my choice of tube colours. This is only theoretical as I've not seen a Fome and can't remember much about the Spanish box which the Spanish participants were using on the Catalonia course.

Robert P. Armas said...

Peter,as soon as I receive the palette-by the end of December,after the 18th-I'll post my comments on it.
I just read a comment in that thread on Wet Canvas,by the original poster that asked for it,that she received it already and said that is compact,not light,but not too heavy.
I hear already that is made in China,so I don't know much about quality in the long run,but anyway these days almost everything is made in China and quality had improved in manufacturing in all aspect there,that's a fact.

Robert P. Armas said...

Oh,I for got and I found that the FOME 12 full pans is also sold at Daniel Smith here in the US,but at $59.99.Higher than ASW($44.99)but cheaper than Natural Pigments($62.50),another alternate provider in the US,specially for those who live in or near Seattle,shipping will be cheaper.Here is the link:http://www.danielsmith.com/Item--i-285-240-001

Peter Ward said...

Robert I still can't believe the Spanish palette will be a similar quality to the Fome, bearing in mind the price difference. The ASW offer on the Fome 12 full pan looks very good value to me. It will be interesting to hear what you think of it when it finally arrives. After all if it does the job and doesn't deteriorate (show signs of rust etc) then that's good enough. As I've mentioned before the Spanish participants on my Catalonia course all semed to have one and were quite happy with it. It is fairly large as I recall.

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Peter Ward said...

Sorry Anonymous not quite sure what information you are actually after. If you post me details I'll try to assist.

Robert P. Armas said...

I might get reprimanded in this but I think I'm going to take the plunge on a Craig Young's Paintbox.
A twist of "fortune"will be soothing my meager income starting this December,it will be $105.00 more monthly,that I didn't counted with,so I will forget about these first months and will save $100.00 for 5 or 6 months.I just spoke with Mr.Craig today and he promised that he will have it ready for April 2011.I wonder if I'll have to wait 12 moth s or so as other people report.
I consider it a life investment.And I don't have any vices.I don't smoke,don't drink,don't do drugs,not a womanizer anymore...what incentives should I have in this monotone and boring daily life?
Painting and in doing so I will cut no corners,unless opportunities arises..you never say no to a good deal or a good sale ;-)

Robert P. Armas said...

Oh,I forgot,that will mean I will sell the Spanish palette coming this December 18th.I consider that 600 grams is a bit on the heavy side to hold it in my left hand for more than 1/2 and hour while I paint.
Peter,if you're interested,you're the first advised.Not one knows yet.

Peter Ward said...

So Craig Young wins the day! Which one I presume the Paintbox. It isn't large but not light. I've just weighed the three I have.

The Sketcher's Box is 244grams
The Paintbox is 447 grams and
The Palette Box is 519 grams.

The Palette Box was weighed empty the others full of tubed paint.

A Craig Young box is a thing to treasure and perhaps indicates commitment in pursuit of painting excellence. They don't make you a better painter as we all know. It feels good to have one but I admit they are an expensive indulgence. I don't intend this as a slur on those who paint with cheaper palettes and even butchers trays et al. Not all artists, indeed many, can afford such sums and others feel the money is better spent on brushes, paper etc. I think the Fome 12 full pan box is a very good alternative.

Robert P. Armas said...

You guessed right! It's the Paintbox,black enamel outside with a plaque with model name,my name and serial number.What a treat!
I can't agree with you more.It's a thing to treasure.I never had any treasured possession in my life.Even my father cheated on me when he told me he wold buy me a wrist watch(something to treasure in Cuba) and he never did....
And yes,it makes a definition of commitment to a lifelong pursuit in the the always demanding excellence in watercolor career.
Yes,that will be my career from now on,I treated for a while,and you must know it,as a hobby,not so determined into it.Not anymore.
In about a month things have changed for me and I treat my life and my affairs with another point of view now.More committed in some aspects,less worried in others.
Anyway,I was drifting,yes,it's an expensive indulgence,but a life long investment too.
And I was and still am one of these that use some inexpensive materials or supplies,out of necessity and for the sake of treat the art of watercolor with less worries and more freely too.

Peter Ward said...

You go for it Robert. We all hope things like a Craig Young palette will work it's magic on our paintings. It's nice to dream! I do.

Robert P. Armas said...

Peter,I came down to my senses.It's nice to dream,I agree,but I got to be more realistic.My income isn't of the kind that can't afford such palette without making a big dent in my budget or plans.I canceled the order of the Paintbox.
I will keep the V.Piera Spanish palette and maybe in the future will buy a FOME one-not sure yet if I'll need it-i made some measurements based on the data provided on the V.Piera site and it will be be possible that two full pans of the Kremer ones will fit in one of these big paint wells of the V.Piera one.Of course,it will be still be short on height but another possibility is to make some plastic tabs to be glued in some of the wells for the less used colors.
These big wells and the lack of deep mixing wells are the only problems I see with the Piera palette.Otherwise it's excellent.

Peter Ward said...

Bob some very well-known artists use things like butcher's trays and dinner plates as palettes. Buying a Craig Young palette is an indulgence - and it doesn't make you a better painter. I've had mine for some time but if buying now would be inclined to get the Fome 12 full pan box. It's a matter of choice and budget.I'm sure the Vierra, with a bit of tweaking, will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,
Would you be so kind and measure for your audience the size of the wells (plus depth) of your Craig Young's Paintbox? I do have some palettes, like one from Winsor Newton (it stains on its solid mixing tray), but I also find trays to be too shallow and small for a squirrel mop. I can barely do one and a half load and the well rim full with water is dry. I'd love to have a palette with deeper wells, but I'm keen on carrying around a big studio palette. Thank you.

Peter Ward said...

According to my calculations Thomas the Craig Young paintbox and palette box are 3mm x 2mm x 1mm deep. The palette box also has a number of slightly smaller wells.

Linda Warner Constantino said...

I have tried a number of times to get in touch and order a palette from Craig Young. I never seem to get a reply. Is he still in business

Peter Ward said...

Hi Linda. You surprise me. Craig is certainly still in business, at least he was until very recently. I had contact with him over my post `The Craig Young Experience' and have never experienced difficulty in this respect. Try e-mailing young2005@btinternet.com or see the contact details on the above post.

Anonymous said...

From the Oxford Girl at Amelia Island, All FOMES are not equal. The FOME I ordered at SAA, empty, is hard to manage and does not close well, whereas the FOME marketed by Winsor Newton filled with their paints closes perfectly and is very serviceable.

The enamel surface provides a much better mixing surface than plastic paint palettes.

Thanks for all the information regarding palettes, paints, and tutors.

Carolyn Robbin said...

Wow thanks for all of the palette info! Have any of you purchased the FOME 12 pan? What is your opinion? I believe I will get one at Jerry's.
Carolyn

Peter Ward said...

Welcome Carolyn. All palettes have faults but the Fome, made of heavy duty metal is one of the better ones. The 12 pan version would be my choice. Of course you can mix half and full pans in the same palette to increase the number of paints - say to 18.