Calls with my friend Julia in the UK have become a pretty regular weekly thing. She’ll give me a call or text pictures of some of the latest treasures she found for me. We’ll also just chat about life and family between talks about antique watercolor palettes and other fun art supplies. We are definitely two peas in a pod when it comes to things we love and she’s gracious enough to sell me pieces she loves, too. In one of our recent conversations, as I told her to add something else to my pile for the next box she sends across the pond, she said, “There can’t be much more that you need, right?”
I laughed, “First of all, I don’t need any of this!”
Art supplies and books have become my vice over the past couple of years and, honestly, there are worse vices to have. I’m sure there will come a time when I feel like my collection is “complete”, but that hasn’t happened yet!
In my most recent Ponder & Purchase box, I got two antique watercolor palettes. The first one is a small folding palette by Reeves. It had been in Julia’s online shop for a while and I kept looking at it when I’d check out listings on Etsy. It’s nothing particularly special or rare, but I kept coming back to it and imagining myself using it. When I can picture something in my home or studio, and vividly imagine myself using it, I usually know I should buy it.
I don’t use a ton of colors when I’m painting and I figured that most of these would be student grade (but I will test them all out to see), so I removed all of the paints. I had almost enough antique Reeves ceramic half pans to put in the watercolor palette, so I decided to use those and fill them with my own paints.
Using the ceramic half-pans (instead of plastic) just makes me happy!
So, I’ll fill them all up and let you know how it looks when it’s finished. I decided not to clean the palette, though. I think the patina of antique watercolor palettes created by decades of use is what adds to its charm. The outside of the tin has been painting in blue (it would’ve been shiny black), so I might even do some custom painting on it! We’ll see.
The other antique watercolor palette is an absolute beauty. I’ve never seen one like it, so I think it’s quite special. It’s a very heavy ceramic palette in a metal case. The metal lid closes to cover up the paints but leaves the mixing surface exposed. I also believe the metal lid would be used as a small easel for a quick sketch. It has a significant crack in it, but I’ve never been one to snub something old because it’s “damaged” or imperfect. In fact, it makes me like it all the more. If something breaks, we only keep it and fix it if we love it and it means something to us. Someone loved this palette enough to not throw it away, even if it was broken.
I decided to fill this antique watercolor palette with my new plant-based, natural watercolors…
It was so fun “moving into” this palette. I just used the palette of eight colors and left the wells with the crack running through them empty for now. I can add more colors later or use them for mixes.
Isn’t it such a clever little antique watercolor palette? I just love it!
As with all antique pieces, I do wonder who owned them originally. What art might’ve been created with these? I feel privileged to own and use them now and be a part of their next chapter.
I got a bunch of other fun things from Julia that I’ll be sharing in future posts.