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Sunday Sketch Club: Autumn Leaves in June!

Meg sketching away using the travel kit

This month we took our mini travel watercolour palettes on the go to try to sketch some of the last autumn leaves. I had so much fun making these palettes and I can't wait to test out more colour combinations and palette cases. I've also been thinking about converting vintage compacts into travel palettes, so stay tuned!


Preparing for this month's session I read up about some of the history of watercolour palettes and it's actually really fascinating! Sooo I thought I might share some of it with you.


Travel watercolor palettes have a charming history and trace their origins back to the 18th century when watercolor painting gained popularity among European travelers.


Early travel palettes were often custom-made, tailored to fit the needs of individual artists. These portable kits usually included a limited selection of colors, a small brush, and a mixing surface, all housed in a compact, durable box.


One of the earliest known examples is the pocket-sized watercolor box owned by the famous British artist J.M.W. Turner, who was known for his detailed landscapes. His palette, now displayed in museums, showcases the minimalist yet efficient design of early travel kits.



A photo of J.M.W Turner's travel watercolour palette


As the demand for travel palettes grew, manufacturers began to produce standardized versions. In the 19th century, Winsor & Newton, a leading art supply company, introduced the "Field Box," a significant innovation in the art world. This box featured a sleek, foldable design with integrated water containers, making it incredibly convenient for artists to paint outdoors. The Field Box became a staple for plein air painters, contributing to the rise of outdoor painting movements like Impressionism.



Our little group all parked up in this gorgeous street!

An interesting tidbit about these palettes is their role in military history. During World War I, some soldiers used compact watercolor kits to document their experiences on the battlefield. These poignant artworks provide a unique, personal perspective on the war, capturing moments of quiet reflection amid the chaos.


Elena sketching away!

Anyway, that's enough from me, thank you so much to everyone who came along this month, it's always such a joy to get to spend an afternoon with you!

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