Paint Wells vs Tubes


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I saw a Plein air YouTuber using one of these and thought it looked great, The alternative is to load small empty tubes with (oil) paint and carry those. Currently I pre- load my pallette and only take a small tube of white for back-up. But I rather not do it that way anymore (for a bunch of reasons.)

So what do you think of this? Better than carrying small tubes? I can see pros and cons of both.



That looks real nice, though the latex sheet for a seal seems like it would be awkward to deal with. I'd rather have an in-place gasket and not so many clips.

This is a plastic box I got at a dollar store. It's got watercolors in it now, but it could just as easily be used for oil. It's not sealed though, so I'd stick it in a zip lock and pack it right side up, just in case. This one also only has 11 sections, so not as much paint as the one in the link. Just an idea.


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I've used this $2-3 dollar store 12 hole make up case for several years for in-house or near-by plein-air, or if time is limited, on an excursion further away. It contains or can contain enough paint for me to do a small study or three. I now put the white in that space along the edge and use those two white holes for a bit of oil. the space beside the green has a bit of paper towel w/clove oil. I wipe away the drop or two of fluid oil before closing it when done, and place it into a baggie. It generally has 2 blues, 2 yellows, 2 reds, burnt sienna, burnt umber, black, tube green, and white. Colors can be easily changed, it can be clamped onto a standard clipboard which also acts as a mixing palette as can the lid, a plastic bag and towel can be clipped to the board, and there's still enough space for a small oil paper. I carry a bit of oil in an empty eye wash squeeze bottle. rather than the metal cups now. I can clip my paper via the clip on the board. You see the green string? It's a bit of yarn used for a handle
Back home I clean the holes, refill it then or later, add a drop of clove oil, put it back into the plastic bag and place it in the freezer door. Of course you can use fewer colors and more of them, or, I often put more than one color in a hole, ie, both a bit of ultramarine and a bit of thalo blue side by side. Or ochre and orange together... This little case is probably about 3"x5" and less than 1/2" thick. I don't know if it's air-tight, but it hasn't leaked, and the Paint stays good for quite a while.


If it truly keeps a good seal, I can see that being a pretty cool thing instead of lugging heavy tubes around.
Bought it. This look like a great idea. It's funny but I was just thinking about this issue. Dealing with pre loaded pallets of oil paint for plein air means guessing how much paint one is going to use. Going with the tubes is just more stuff. Then the mess of a pallet and comingled paints dries over the next week while I'm not painting. Scrape and repeat. Wasted paint. I had been thinking of small jars for each paint that could be closed up, but this is better. I guess I'm spoiled with watercolor where all colors are always there, but I find that squeezing out oil paints all the time is a little annoying.

It says each well holds 17 ml, which is half a small tube. It would be nice to have a half tube of all my paints ready there to go.

And the lid detaches for a mixing surface. I would think the gasket should work well, and if not can create my own.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Bongo
I have tried more than a few of this type of container,and I can't seem to make it work out for anything more that the first one or two paintings because I am too sloppy and hurried so that the adjacent wells get contaminated with each other.
So who cares ?
I have seen these before. I have never tried one myself but they always looked concerning to me for plein air.
They remind me of plastic tackle box trays which I constantly have to resort because even solid lures have a way of teleporting from one cell to the next. So I've always been under the assumption that paint would find a way to do the same in one of these.
I'm sold on getting one of these, but there is another version with smaller 10ml wells that I might get instead. 18ml wells in large one - 10ml wells in the small one.

1.I like larger wells, but you could always use two wells with same color in the smaller one - 24 wells so you could afford to double up on some colors..

2. The larger one has rounded bottoms on the well - easier to scoop and clean.

3. The seal on the small one looks good - you can see how the seal is molded so each individual well gets a tight fit.

4. The seal is in the lid on the smaller one , rather that a separate piece like the big one. So less hassle .

5. The little one claims "air tight" the bigger one says "paints last for a few days". Complaints in the reviews of the larger one not making a good seal (although could be user error). Reviews of the smaller one say seal is great - air tight (although reviews could be fake).

6. small one is $9 - big one is $16.

7. so far only doing Plein Air in the city - so don't have to carry a lot of paint. If I were to go somewhere for a few days - I could always buy a second one -

then again 10ml is awfully small - would have to refill it more often.

How could you improve on the gasket?

I would probably first try to make a silicon sealant or Goop gasket. You put petroleum jelly on one side so it doesn't stick close the lid and let it cure.

But hopefully the supplied latex gasket will work.

Another option is a sponge sheet under the latex sheet gasket. I bet the leaks happen when the lid bows up and then the gasket doesn't seal. By adding a thin foam sheet the gasket would stay pressed onto the wells.
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Got it today. To test the tightness of the wells I put some water in the middle ones. WIth just a gentle shake it spilled into the other cells. As I thought the lid doesn't press down on the middle of the gasket. So I added three layers of paper towel behind the sheet gasket and now the seal was good with even pretty hard shaking . Some thin sheet foam rubber would work also. Water is a tough test and I expect oils will stay in place just fine.

Looks good though. Luckily I have a pallet knife with a round end profile that fits the well perfectly and will allow getting all the paint out. The knife says "Conda 2" FWIW.

This thing is small enough to put in the freezer also to keep the paints fresher longer.

I think this might be nice for the studio also. When ready to start a painting just open it up and have all your paints right there ready to go. Scoop out the ones you need onto a pallet and you're all set.
Got it today. To test the tightness of the wells I put some water in the middle ones. WIth just a gentle shake it spilled into the other cells. As I thought the lid doesn't press down on the middle of the gasket. So I added three layers of paper towel behind the sheet gasket and now the seal was good with even pretty hard shaking . Some thin sheet foam rubber would work also.
That's good news - great idea for a fix. I ordered both of them - they come tomorrow. I have five or six 200ml tubes that are leaking bad since I f*cked up by cutting the ends short after wringing them. So I need something now - will probably return the small one since the big one can be made to seal.

Oh -and I already have that exact "condo2" palette knife set - so that works out.

After I empty paint into the wells, I'm hoping I'll be able to crimp the tubes so the remaining paint won't leak. Otherwise I'll be needing empty tubes. These look good

I love those caps, all manufacturers should use caps like those. And $18, for twenty tubes is a good price.

John - I really appreciate that you posting a fix
I like the idea of using them in the studio too.
I have a couple of the small ones of these that I keep gouache in (the size in the screen grabs Bongo posted). They wouldn't suit me for oil paint, but I can vouch for the seal being decent - my gouache has been in for months (with a few irregular spritzes of water), and hasn't dried out.
today was the first day I got to actually use the paint-well-palette doing plein air. Jostling around in my bag, a couple of latches came undone. No harm since there was still 4 latches left holding the lid. But now I know just to take some blue tape and put over them when going out.

Good news is I used way less paint. When I preload my palette I get paranoid that I might run out of paint and put out big piles of it.
With this, I know there is more paint in my bag if I need it, so I just put out a small amount.