Update on the Makeup Kit to Painting Set Conversion

I've been enjoying my gouache paintbox that I converted from a makeup kit in my previous post, and have some updates for my readers. In this post, you'll find:

  • Solutions for issues that came up while using this box or a similar box. 
  • Link and photos of an available, relatively inexpensive makeup kit that will work well for those of you who have wanted to do something similar.
  • A couple of dollar store painting kit options to show you.

(If the full post with images does not appear below, click here.)

While working with this unique painting setup, I encountered the following problems, and found a couple of solutions that will work for any similar setup:

1. Problem: The paint kit becomes unbalanced when paper is set against the lid. Plus, the kit slides around on a table or easel tray.
Solution: I created a few loops with masking tape, sticky side out, and affixed them to the underside of the box. The box adheres enough to whatever surface it rests on to counteract the sliding and tipping issues. I suspect that blu tack will work the same way, and might be a more versatile solution. If you tend to use the box on a specific easel tray or table spot, you could use velcro instead to secure it. If just the sliding bothers you, a piece of non-slip carpet backing would do the trick. You could affix that to the bottom of the box, or just place it between the box and your work surface.

Golden Gesso applied over the black plastic where there were no metal pans
2. Problem: Most of the wells in my box had metal pans, but some were just black plastic. Transparent color in black paint wells is not a happy combination! 
Solution: Today I used some Golden Gesso to give two coats of white to some of the recesses that did not have metal pans. If the gesso peels off over time, I'll take some sandpaper to the plastic wells, and try again, or resort to a different type of paint. As you can see in the image at the top of this article, coating those areas with gesso gave me six additional, usable mixing areas. Other brands of gesso might work too; I used the Golden because it's the thickest and most trustworthy of the ones I have here.

3. Problem: The lid angle makes the paint surface sit almost vertically, and is not adjustable.
Solution: ? Yeah, I haven't figured out this one yet! But the setup is so darn compact and useful that it hasn't been a dealbreaker for me yet!

I had a couple of pleasant surprises while working with the box too:
  • Using three of the back recesses for water was more than enough for my small format studies and paintings. Keeping the water wells for dark, clean, and light worked perfectly. (When working in color, I set them up for cool colors/clean water/warm colors.) If you keep your water compartments well organized, you can paint with very little water. 
  • The little mini eyeliner tube is working out great for white gouache highlights. Who knew?!
  • The kit is more self-contained and user friendly than I thought possible. I was sure I'd need extra mixing space, or a different water container option, or more colors. Although it was a lot of fun to create the kit, I was sure that within a few days, I'd end up going back to my old gouache palette. That didn't happen!
I'm sorry that this particular kit is not available, and I couldn't get you a link for it. However, there is good news in these troubled times! I did find at least one reasonably priced, available option that I think it will work great! Here's a link to the new one I've purchased.  In terms of paint and mixing space, I think it will be ideal for sketching up to at least 7x11". The circular pans are very shallow, and considerably smaller than my other kit, but it will be fine for small sketches on the go. Below is what it looks like with a 4x6" watercolor post card pad, and all the trays slid open to their maximum positions. The pad is about 1" wider than the kit when it's folded up.

I'm planning to use this one for traditional watercolor work, or watercolor plus white gouache. It lacks deep recesses to hold water, but I might leave an outside column of the circular wells empty, so I can clip double palette cups for water to it. The set still needs to be cleaned out of course, and the wells that don't have metal inserts need to be painted white or light gray. Five of the mixing wells are a really good size. I'm optimistic about being able to work up to 7x10 or 9x12" thanks to those large areas. There are a bunch of smaller ones for color mixing too. I think this might have better mixing areas than my larger kit.

I'm quite excited about doing this paint box conversion. It's more compact and lighter than the one at the top of this post, and would be perfect to leave in my car or handbag for quick sketch opportunities on the go. Like my other setup, you can just pull out the trays that you need. The image above shows the kit with only the lower tray slid out, and the circular pans the way they are when you first flip open the lid.

While we're discussing paint box options, let's not forget about ones that are fabulous, designed with artists in mind, and readily available. This Koi set may be more expensive at $27 at Blick and other retailers, but it's already got paint in it to get started, comes with a waterbrush and sponge, is already white, saves you some work cleaning it out and reloading it, and has a lid with an adjustable angle for your paper. The palette can hook into either side or the front. Koi sets come in other sizes too, with more or fewer colors. The paint isn't great, but it's passable for student grade paint. You may not need to buy a makeup kit after all!

As you can see above, the makeup kit and this Koi set are nearly the same size when fully opened. The makeup kit is a little smaller when it's packed up, since the trays all slide in. I happen to love tinkering with paint sets, so I enjoy the extra effort of repurposing something. But you don't have to; there are many great, inexpensive painting sets already out there in the land of watercolor palettes that do what they are supposed to do, without having to jump through all the hoops!

There's one more thing I've been wanting to show you. On the lower right in the photo above, you can see two of the palettes that I've purchased at the dollar store. One used to be an eye makeup kit. The other still is, but probably not for long! The smaller one I've been using on and off for years. The longer one above it I got fairly recently, as an interesting, slim option to stick in a purse. You might even have something like this lying around the house, waiting to be repurposed. When you're in the dollar store, keep your eyes open for things you can use for artistic purposes. I'm amazed by what I find there sometimes!


If you enjoy working in gouache or watercolor, you may be interested in:
My previous post about converting a makeup kit into a paintbox.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Jamie! Always a huge source of information and inspiration! Just bought some gouache and have been looking for a palette to use just fort this. So maybe I already have something! Keep painting and stay strong! Love ya, G