One Palette to RULE them ALL! The dream of many a Prima Watercolor Confections lover out there - well I did it (almost)!
Hello gorgeous people! I've spent much of the Coronavirus lockdown swatching my watercolors, it seems I have a few more than I thought! It turns out I have quite a few Prima Watercolor Confections, (I'm only missing one set - Currents). For those who haven't seen these, the Prima Watercolor Confections are creamy watercolors that come in sets of 12, all packed in a handy little tin, complete with swatch card and ready to go. About halfway through the swatching process, I realized that having my whole collection of Prima Watercolor Confections palettes separated into their original color sets was annoying and a bit fiddly, I was constantly swapping back and forth between tins looking for the color I wanted and always needing colors from more than one tin. UGH more mess to clean up!
After intensive Googling, I investigated a variety of palette suggestions, the one I saw that I thought might work best was from Nina Marie, the Mijello Airtight Watercolor Palette (the exact one recommended seems to be unavailable). I thought I might need a plan B, but I decided to go for it order something similar, the Martin Universal Design Watercolor Palette. The description lists the palette size as 15 x 11 x 2 inches, but it's NOT correct - the palette is actually 12 3/6" x 7 7/64" x 1 3/16" (31.8cm x 15.5cm x 3cm), and it has 24 slanted wells with two (2) large mixing areas. And this is what I used to create my very own DIY watercolor palette, holding 10 of my Prima Watercolor Confections sets. Now for those wanting to grab the EXACT palette I purchased to organize my Prima Watercolor Confections, this is the link (affiliate link in use) I even checked my purchase history on Amazon to be 100% sure.
BUT there is something you need to know before purchasing, this palette is NOT magnetic, so you will need to either do what I've done and stick your pans in there (I'll show you what I did in a bit) or be aware that you may experience movement and definitely do not turn your palette upside down!
Set up the palette
Stary by gently prying the mixing well section out of the palette - in the palette I purchased it's in tight but I used the tip of my tweezers to gently pop it out and then I removed the sticky residue underneath with my fingers. This leaves a large white rectangular base that holds 7 rows and 18 pans per row, so a total of 126 half pans (that's 10 Prima Confections sets - with room for an additional 6 half pans!).
Now to stop your pans dancing about in the tray (or tipping out if you accidentally turn over the palette) stick 7 lines of high tack Red tape (or any high tack tape) into the tray. I used the 1/2" tape but I'd recommend a thinner option if you think you may need to move the pans easily in the future - as this tape really sticks, this will allow the pans to be held firmly in place but also allow you to remove them if you need to.
Organizing the Colors
I needed to decide on a color order, so I spent hours, upon hours (it took a month of swatching) to find the best option for organizing all of the Prima half pans. I tried several sorting options, including putting them in rough color order (and not worrying about warm or cool variations) which I have to admit, sorting from dark to light by color order looked really pretty in the palette - but it also meant that I had warm blue and cool blue all mixed up and without checking my swatches each time I couldn't tell the difference just by looking at the pan color!
So, I decided to organize the colors in the not quite as pretty, but more useful (for me) way, which is by color category taking into account warm and cool tones of each color.
Once I'd organized the colors (and swatched on different surfaces) I compared my ideas to a fabulous online guide The complete palette by Bruce McEvoy, which categorizes colors and provides brand names and examples. I swatched out the colors Bruce mentioned (well the ones I own) and compared these to all my Prima colors - just to make sure I was on the right track - yes this took a while and was fairly intense!
This is the order I organized my Prima Confections in (* = not sure about color placement)
- White: 84, 01
- Shimmer colors: 60, 25, 26, 50, 54, 58, 59, 27, 49, 51, 52, 53, 55, 28, 57, 56
- Black: 12, 17, 86
- Grey, Cream and Neutral: 35, 11, 93, 114, 102, 113, 85*, 111*
- Brown: 10, 91, 10, 24, 38, 112, 129
- Earth Red: 106, 77, 97
- Earth Orange: 78, 105, 95, 30, 79, 32, 130,
- Earth Yellow: 87, 98, 29, 31, 37*, 100*, 132, 101, 14, 33
- Yellow: 05, 43
- Orange Yellow: 21, 42
- Yellow Orange: 82, 04
- Orange: -
- Red Orange: 76
- Orange Red: 17
- Red: 03
- Deep Red: 88, 41*, 39*, 74, 73, 128
- Violet Red: 02, 19, 22, 40, 119, 118*
- Red Violet: 83, 131
- Violet: 09, 48, 120
- Blue Violet: 75, 20
- Violet Blue: 116, 107
- Blue: 08, 09, 127, 81, 36, 23, 15, 90
- Green Blue: 47, 99, 115, 07, 46, 103
- Blue Green: 92, 44, 89, 13, 45
- Green: 96, 104, 18, 80, 125, 110, 124, 108
- Yellow Green: 06, 121, 123, 34, 122, 126
- Green Yellow: 94, 16
I am so excited to show you what I have come up with - but I'm equally excited to hear what you think, even if you think I should perhaps order them differently or if I've put a color in the Red Orange category and you think maybe it's more of a red! Please try swatching on different surfaces and at different strengths of paint, as these Prima watercolors can look very different depending on the surface and intensity.
Now I have to be honest and say there are a few colors that really didn't seem to fit in any of these categories - you will immediately be able to spot which ones these are, please feel free to suggest more appropriate categories for these challenging colors - leave your ideas in the comments so everyone can see and so I can make adjustments to the palette.
Create a Color Swatch Chart for your Palette
To keep everything organized and to let me find things fast, I've written the color number on each side of every half pan (so I can see it from any side where possible), I've also created a color swatch chart that fits into the palette lid and makes it easy to see at a glance which color is where. I've included the color number, as well as the Prima, set it was originally a part of, in case I want to use the colors together. I haven't added the individual color names to my Mega Swatch Color Chart as I didn't think this was essential information, and I can refer to these on the original color swatch cards if I need them.
AND so you all don't have to spend the same amount of time I did, I'm providing a neat little downloadable color chart that you can print out for yourself on Watercolor paper (I used Arches A4 smooth), it lists the color order. The chart is A4 paper size as this was the best match for the size of the palette - so each square is the size of a half pan. *Depending on your printer you may need to choose 'Fit to paper size' to be able to see the edges of the chart. You can also download the color chart and swatch chart from Google Docs via this link, just in case there are any problems with the links above.
And there you have it a month's worth of work but I now have all the Prima Watercolor Confections that I own organized, swatched, sorted and all in the one palette ready for easy use. I hope that this may save other Prima Watercolor lovers out there some time and give you all some storage and organizing ideas as well.
Affiliate links in use when possible
- The Classics
- Vintage Pastel
- Decadent Pies
- Pastel Dreams
- Shimmering Lights
- Complexion (Note: If you own all the other sets listed, do not purchase Complexion - as you will already have each of the colors in the Complexion set!)
- Martins Universal Design Palette
- Sakura Microperm pen
- Ranger Inkssentials Wonder Tape
- Watercolor paper (Arches) for color chart
- Bruce McEvoy for the fabulous information on The complete palette
- Nina Marie who inspired me to hunt for a single palette to rule them all and go on this mammoth swatching and organizing journey.
I hope you've enjoyed my little color sorting, swatching, categorizing and storing adventure oxox