In the tradition of artists finding great hacks for their equipment, Danae Hoppe upcycled an Altoids tin. 

The St. Louis watercolorist used old eye-makeup trays to house just eight colors –aureolin, gamboge, quinacridone rose, quinacridone gold, quinacridone rust, sap green, ultramarine blue, and raw umber.

“I was very intentional about the chemical makeup of each watercolor paint used,” says Hoppoe. “All paints are transparent, allowing for endless mixtures without making my paintings muddy. Only three paints (sap green, ultramarine blue, and raw umber) are granulation paints, as oppose to staining paints, so I don’t use these colors as much for mixing. I use them for thin washes instead. The pigment can sit on top of the 140 lb cold-pressed watercolor blocks, making light bounce off the paper instead of the pigment being absorbed into the paper. I’ve considered replacing these colors with phthalocyanine green and phthalocyanine blue red shade.”

The tin with the eye shadow trays and Hoppe’s choice of colors

She continues, “The Altoids tin is clipped onto my watercolor block using a large binder clip. The mixing area on the lid of the Altoids tin is the top of a cottage cheese lid. The metal trays are empty eye shadow tins on top of a refrigerator magnet (the magnet is glued to the base of Altoids tin). The metal trays can be removed at any time to be rearranged or exchanged for other colors.”

“I use a medium Sakura Koi water brush as my only paintbrush and water source. This brush can be filled with water at home and never leaks. I use a medium-size syringe from a drugstore to fill the brush handle with water when refilling on site. In one painting session, I only need to fill up the brush with water one time.”


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