Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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Organizing Watercolor Paint Colors and Tubes

9 Comments

Storage ideas watercolor tubes paint |
I paint with watercolor from tubes. Very little remains of my original set of Van Gogh tubes. I’ve since added individual tubes – of mostly Winsor & Newton and some (more economical Winsor & Newton) Cotman tubes. I also have my Holbein Gouache mixing set – of which I’ve had to replace the white several times. All the tubes I keep in an adjustable storage case I bought years ago.

For easy access, I keep my palette filled with paint. Today as I was painting, I thought “I need more light brown. Wait, what color is this light brown?” Between the burnt and raw siennas and various other browns, I had to do a little work and sampling of tubes to find the right paint. Recently I used the last of the green in the palette and when I refilled it, the green was totally different. A bit inconvenient when you are in the middle of a painting! The original green tube is long gone. I really need to keep better track of my colors!

I started this little sketch to fill in what the colors in the palette are. I’d like to do another one with room to paint swatches of each color. How do you keep track of your colors? How do you store your paint tubes?
Watercolor paint palette organizing and storing paint

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9 thoughts on “Organizing Watercolor Paint Colors and Tubes

  1. When I was starting out with my acrylics I actually painted a sample of what the paint actually looked like (and also what it looked like with 50% white) and taped it on the tube with the color temperature (leaning towards warm or cool on the color wheel) it was a chore but it really helped with my color mixing and knowing what they came out like! Now I am more favoring a limeted palette, so, I find I use certain colors over and over and I know what tube they come from and the color bias and the labels are gone because I have replaced with new tubes a few times over….but it is still handy to have labels on the ones I only use from time to time! As for organizing my tubes of paint, well, I do seperate by brand, but, to be honest, Eileen, they are all over the place and between a wooden case that used to fit all of them but is too small and a nice rolling taboret that has drawers which I keep the more pro tubes in! It’s actually quite common for me to think I ran out of something, order some more and then find a half (or whole) tube in the back of the drawer – Great subject and reminder! We should all take a bit of time to organize our paints from time to time 🙂

    • Yes I definitely need to keep an inventory list (not going to happen😂). For a few days I kept saying I needed a new sketchbook, then I opened a cabinet and there was a brand new one. It is fun to buy new supplies though! When I paint my seascapes I use 3 tubes to mix the ocean and sand. That I have down pat. Some of the colors in my palette – I have no idea what tube the originated from. 🤣

  2. I have a big make-up/toiletries bag with several pockets and I keep my tubes and empty pans and other stuff in that. One of the pockets is just for the tubes that are currently in my pallette because there’s no way I’d remember which exact shade is there. So I don’t organise by colour or anything, just those currently in use and then all the rest.

  3. great idea for storing your paint tubes – mine are all over my table. Glad I’m not the only one who can’t remember what the original mix was in the palette. Having problems with a painting right now because of that…

  4. I have zero organization. I have a set of beginner tubes still in their box. I have to bring a tote of my supplies out every time I paint, so I haven’t figured out a long term organization plan yet. 🙂 Most of my projects are smaller though, so it’s not such a big deal if I get confused as if you do. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll get it figured out before I get into bigger things. 🙂

  5. Watercolor paints have their pigment number painted on the size of the tube. (in very small print) If you like to mix your own colors, try not to buy paint made with more than one pigment, Student grade paints (e.g. Cotman) contain the same pigments, but they are weaker versions and it takes more of them to get the same color.

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