We’ve done a lot of travel this summer, and I knew that making art was going to be a significant part of each trip. So in preparation, I ordered 4 different travel watercolor field kits and thought I’d give you the low-down of how each one performed for me. Interested? Let’s begin!
Disclosure: I bought all of these kits with my own funds. The links below are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for supporting CTD.
First up is not ONE but TWO kits from Windsor & Newton. I couldn’t make up my mind which might be better suited for my needs, so I bought both. (Ahem. It was for research, right?) The smaller of the two is called the “Pocket Plus” travel water color field kit for $28.99. It measures a tiny 5″ by 2.5″ closed, and is about 1 1/8 inch thick. Yup, it wins for “small” alright!
When you open it up, though, you actually get an amazing amount of workspace and features! You get the obligatory travel brush, but it also has TWO pop-out mixing trays to work with. Also, the watercolor pans pop out so that you can replace just the ones you need to. Very economical. I like that!
The other Windsor & Newton travel watercolor field kit I bought was the Cotman Watercolor Compact set of 14 half-pans. It retailed for $19.79 on Amazon.com- and for 9 bucks less, I got 2 more pans! It takes up much more space, though- it measured 5.5 inches X 4.25 inches, and about an inch deep. it also came with the small paint brush, a pop-out water tray, and a slide-out mixing tray. There’s also a thumb-hole for holding it steady in your non-dominant hand for painting in the field. Like the other kit, each pan can be removed individually and replaced as needed.
Now, as far as I could tell, there was no discernible difference in the paint pans in these two kits. Both had the same paper labels on the individual pans. (Which were really annoying to have to remove, by the way, as well as being ridiculously wasteful.) Since I’m not actually reviewing the paint in these kits, just comparing them, I’ll just say that I really like the vibrant colors and the semi-opaque finish.
The next kit I bought was the Koi Pocket Watercolor Field Sketch Box for just under $25.00. This travel kit measures at 4-5/8 x 6-3/8 x 1-1/8 and has a staggering 24 watercolor pans to play with! AND- they include one of their fabulous water brushes- oh so handy for making art on the go. (Ten times better than just having a brush- and if you want more info on waterbrushes, make sure you click the link. )
Now, I have to say that this kit turned out to be my favorite- mostly because it has the most colors. I found that when I’m traveling, I LIKE to be able to just pick a color that suits me and paint with it. I realize that I could spend more time mixing colors, but…well…. that just isn’t me. So while it was the biggest kit, it’s also the one I used most. Even my kids liked it best!
The only downside to this kit is that the pans aren’t refillable- so when the pan is gone, it’s just gone.
Lastly, I had purchased a Pelikan travel watercolor kit on a readers suggestion. It has a very clever design, and holds six semi-opaque watercolors. The big bonus here is that the pots of paint are HUGE- about 3 times the size of the Koi or Windsor pans. And the price? UNDER $9 USD! The down sides are that the brush is really, really cheap and you only get six colors. This is really more of a kids’ set- although as I mentioned, even my kids like more colors. But at this price, you could certainly get some use out of it if you enjoy mixing colors more.
So there you have it- the Koi was my fav, but I really liked the larger Windsor & Newton set because you can swap out used-up pans. Oh, and don’t miss my post on making hand-made postcards– because we used both of these kits in making them.
You also may be interested in these related posts:
Which kit would YOU choose? Do you take watercolors when you travel?
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