2017 Update: read about the upgraded rust-resistant stainless steel pans!

2016 Update: read about the latest Pocket Palette 2.0, improved even more!

I’m happy to announce a small update to the Pocket Palette and some new tips for using it. The palette now features a matte silver aluminum case that is 1 oz lighter than what I previously used! It’s snazzy, shows fewer fingerprints and scratches, and the weight savings as a traveler and backpacker is fantastic. The case is otherwise identical in form and function to what I’ve been using.

If you’re setting up your Pocket Palette for the first time, fill the pans with tube watercolors and allow them to dry at least overnight into hard cakes. The dried paint can be dampened with water or a small spray bottle and will last for many sketches.

When the time comes to clean my Pocket Palette, I usually just use a waterbrush and paper towel to wipe down the mixing surface and any muddy paints. Every so often (especially before a trip), I do a more thorough cleaning.


When you remove the pans, you may notice minor rust, particularly around their base. This has never been an issue for me in my own travels with the palette around the world, from the Pacific NW to Greenland and SE Asia. The pans are made of tin-plate (in contrast to the aluminum alloy palette case) and I prefer them for their magnetic responsiveness. I’ve never had to replace a pan due to its condition, and I definitely love mixing and matching the colors I carry in the palette!

Here’s my palette and pans after a rinse and scrub down. I use a gentle detergent and Bon Ami to clean off paint residue and polish the pans up. Then, once the case is thoroughly dry, I condition the magnet with a light coat of olive oil.

Side note: one artist was concerned about rust on her pans and passed on the tip to coat the bases with nail polish or another varnish. I’ve experimented with it and while the technique is effective, I personally don’t like the smell and don’t find it necessary.

Once everything is clean, I refill any used paint and am set for my next adventure. Here’s one final tip: try using a binder clip to attach your palette to your sketchbook. Happy painting!