DIY watercolour palette in pillbox with traveller's notebook

Budget watercolours and DIY watercolour palette

The trend in journalling circles now seems to be watercolours, so me being a follower and not a trend-setter, decided to follow along.  I have never been at all artistic in my life. Art lessons in primary school were torturous. I remember whining over art homework to the point my mum had to cave and did some (or even all of it) for me.

After watching too many Youtube videos and reading inspiring Quora answers, I decided that it’s still not too late to pick up art again at my age.  But being cheap on a budget, I picked up some things from local stationery and sundry stores.

made-in-china caiwen water colours
made-in-china caiwen water colours

This box of 12 colours is made in China and costs only S$2.20. You can pick it up at any stationery store. It’s targeted for students, so don’t expect any kind of quality. The tubes are unmarked, with only a coloured cap telling what colour you are (might be) using. There aren’t any weight markings either, but each tube has to be at least 8-10ml, if I’m not wrong.

The colours are the common ones that students might use (black, white, 2 yellows, 2 reds, 2 blues, 2 greens, weirdly, purple and luckily, burnt sienna). They smell funky (but not unpleasant after a while). I read somewhere that the smell comes from the colouring, or was it the gouache used to create the paints. But I don’t own an expensive palette, so I don’t know if the smell is a common thing among all watercolours.

DIY portable water colour  box with brushes
DIY portable water colour box with brushes

After seeing a lot of DIY watercolor palette videos, I thought it would be a fine thing to have a portable DIY watercolour palette to bring around (the house).  I got this plastic pillbox from a sundry goods store (there are lots of them in our suburban HDB estates now) for S$1.90 a few months ago.  Yesterday I just went back there, and it’s now S$1.50!! Sorry for the scruffy looking palette, I don’t take good care of my belongings.

The brushes are Pentel ZBS (size?) 0 and 4, if that means anything. I can’t tell as I am not familiar with brands and makes of of paintbrushes.  They were the most expensive item, costing around S$2 to S$4. I only use the size 0 for now, as I don’t know how to control the bigger one.

DIY watercolour palette in pillbox
DIY watercolour palette in pillbox

I chose 8 out of the 12 colours, and squeezed some into each compartment. Here’s how they looked while ‘fresh’ and clean.

DIY watercolour palette in pillbox with traveller's notebook
DIY watercolour palette in pillbox with traveller’s notebook

Here it is with my fauxdori.

empty pillbox for DIY watercolour palette
empty pillbox for DIY watercolour palette

Oh, as mentioned, I went to the sundry store again yesterday, and found a 15-compartment pillbox for the same price, S$1.90! So I had to grab it.  I can now fit all 12 colours!  The good thing is the little vertical panels are separate, and removable! So I’m thinking of buying a small water-brush and storing it in this box by removing some compartments.  The thing is water-brushes arent cheap. Here’s a really good comparison post on waterbrushes by Parkablogs.

caiwen watercolour colours
caiwen watercolour colours

Testing them out in the notebook that came with the fauxdori. The colours are light, but you can layer them. They become a bit powdery to the touch when dry, but it is something I am used to. Again I don’t know if it’s a cheap vs. expensive watercolour detail. If anyone knows, please do tell me.

Hope this was helpful! I know the pillbox idea isn’t as mobile or storage-friendly as the Altoids tin, but I couldn’t find caps to fit my Altoids tin. But pillboxes are very common and easy to get. And it beats having to squeeze watercolour onto a palette everytime, wondering to do with the leftover paint after you are done painting, and washing up.


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