I am much more likely to do an activity that I am set up for and sketching away from home is no exception. If it takes too long to get ready I sometimes end up not sketching away at all. A minimal set of supplies sufficient for my plans with a lightweight bag that keeps them handy helps me get out the door. In January I began using an old Cotman palette to hold my gouache paints. With a few water brushes, a sketchbook and a pastel pencil I can be set for the day in minutes.
I needed to freshen up my little palette. I had run out of cobalt blue, muddied some of the colors and was not getting enough range in my greens. Additionally, there were two colors I rarely used at all, black and rose. So today I spent a lot of time thinking about the 12 best colors for my small palette.
The chart above helped me think through this problem. I have settled in on Yellow Ochre, Permanent Yellow, Leaf Green, Permanent Yellow Orange (not shown), Flame Red, Primary Magenta, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Deep, Cypress Green, Terre Verte, Sepia and Burnt Sienna. All the paints are Holbein Artist Gouache. I add white to each of the pans as well so I guess this is a 13 color palette.
At home I usually squeeze out fresh paint on a paper palette and then throw away the unused paint when the painting is done. Fresh gouache paints make the best colors but it is just not practical for sketching on the move.