Jane Davenport Petite Palette Review + Color Recipes

Across North America, these little watercolor palettes were flying off the shelves faster than Michael’s could restock them. The high demand–or should we say davenfrenzy–inspired a member of Jane Davenport’s Mixed Media Facebook Group to nickname the twin palates “unicorn items,” along with the equally elusive Mermaid Markers, both part of Jane’s new Mixed Media Collection with American Crafts, which was released in North America in January of this year.

A top view of the open Jane Davenport watercolor tin showing the mixing area and all 12 bright watercolor pans.

Now that Michael’s has made the entire Jane Davenport collection part of their permanent stock (and it’s available for worldwide distribution), those still waiting to find these watercolors should be in luck soon!

Today, I will review the brights palette, a set of 12 half-pan watercolors in an adorable turquoise tin that fits in your hand with a thumb ring to keep it secure. Also available is its  twin, the neutral palette, a set of carefully chosen warm hued primary colors and earth pigments in a pretty gold tin.

So, are these watercolors really #worththewait?

In my opinion, absolutely yes! If you are new to watercolor, or have never splurged to buy premium paints, you are going to be absolutely delighted with the petite palette! ! The brights–and are they ever bright–wet easily and mix beautifully, which is everything  you need them to do when you’re just learning.

The pigment load and vibrancy of these paints is good for the price point ($30 USD), which is in line with other high quality student watercolor sets. However, if you buy them with a 50% off coupon you’ve got yourself a steal of a deal!

These paints are not meant to be used to paint fine art that will be sold or displayed, as many of the colors have low light-fastness ratings. But this is of little consequence to art journalers, or artists who want to have some inexpensive convenience colors at their disposal for urban sketching.

Though I use professional grade tube watercolors in the studio, I’d been wanting to get a portable tin of pan paints to take with me traveling, and this set fits my needs perfectly. And since there’s enough room in between the pans to add up to six more half-pans, I’ve filled up the gap with professional pain paints.

A photograph of the Jane Davenport turquoise watercolor tin, with the palette of 12 bright pan watercolors shown beside it.

Opacity and Staining Swatch

As you can see from my test swatch below, all but one (70s Eye Shadow) of the watercolors  in this set are transparent, which means once they’re dry you can glaze over them, layering up color to your heart’s content! Along the bottom of this swatch, I’ve tested for staining properties by lifting up damp color with clean water and a brush.

The test swatches of all 12 pan colors from the brights palette on watercolor paper.

Since Jane was thoughtful enough to share the pigment details and light-fastness ratings on her palate product page, I am able to tell you their usual names and tell you a bit about the unique properties of each brilliantly saturated color.

Mermaid – “Phthalo Green” – PG7

Phthalo green

This is my favorite color in the Brights Palette! Commonly found in professional watercolor lines, Chlorinated copper phthalocyanine–the pigment’s chemical name–is strongly tinted, which means a little goes a long way.

Though you can certainly lift up highlights to some degree, it is a heavily staining pigment.

Excellent light fastness.

Jimminy – “Phthalo Yellow Green” – PG7 + PY14

Jimminy is a bright green color, shown here in a watercolor swatch.

A combination of Mermaid + Buzzy, this cool lime green is ever so slightly warmer than Daniel Smith’s Phthalo Yellow Green.

Moderate light fastness.

Buzzy – “Diarylide” – PY14

Buzzy watercolor swatch.

A cool leaning yellow, this student-grade pigment is usually used in inks. Just a small amount of this paint seems to go on forever, much like a busy bee!

Moderate light fastness.

Ladybug – “Lithol Rubine” – PR57:1

Ladybug red paint swatch. from Jane Davenport's

Ladybug is made from a synthetic dye also used as a food coloring. And it is scrumptious! This cool leaning red mixes well, and is especially nice for use in skin tones.

Excellent light fastness.

Best Friend – “Rhodamine” – PR81

Pink watercolor paint called

Made from a fluorescent dye called rhodamine, Best Friend is 80s Barbie Bright!

The package swatches for this color are inaccurate (why this is so became apparent to me upon attempting to scan and photograph my own swatch). It seems the scanner has trouble picking up Best Friend, and the camera washes it out in bright light. So keep this in mind if you’re planning to digitize your artwork!

The swatch above was photographed in the shade, and brightened digitally in order to accurately represent its vibrancy.

Low light fastness.

Fairy Tale – “Rhodamine” – PR81

Watercolor paint swatch of fairytale.

Fairytale is rosier, and ever so slightly darker than it’s rhodamine sister, Best Friend. Though less so, it also loses some vibrancy when scanned.

Moderate light fastness.

Royal – “Dioxazine Violet” – PV23

Watercolor paint swatch of dioxazine violet.

Dioxazine Violet is made from coal tar, and has been found in professional grade watercolors since the middle of the last century. It is a highly saturated color almost as dark as black at full strength. When diluted, it is excellent for painting shadows.

Low light fastness.

Mystic – “Cobalt Tin Alumina + Dioxazine Violet” – PB81 + PV23

Mystic watercolor swatch.

Cobalt Tin Alumina is a synthetic pigment that gives Mystic a warmer and lighter hue than it’s parent, Royal.

Low light fastness.

Butterfly – “Phthalo Blue”  – PB15:3

Swatch of phthalo blue watercolor paint.

This color is a staple in most watercolor artist’s palettes! A vibrant, intense, staining blue.

Moderate light fastness.

70s Eye Shadow – “Turquoise” – PB15:3 + PG7

Turquoise 70s eyeshadow watercolor swatch.

Though this paint is mixed from Phalo Blue and Green, it isn’t the same as what you’ll get when you mix those two together yourself. This is because 70s Eyshadow contains just a bit of white paint, making it opaque, like gouache.

You cannot layer over this color, because it will reactivate and smear if re-wet.

Moderate light fastness.

Ink – “Payne’s Gray” – PB27 + PR101 + PBk9

Payne's grey

This paint contains Prussian Blue (PB27), Red Iron Oxide (PR101) and Ivory Black (PBk9), a combination resulting in a color similar to Payne’s Grey, but slightly bluer (at least compared to Windsor & Newton’s).

It is an excellent pigment to use for darkening other colors in the set. And because you can get such a large range of values with it, Ink is perfect for doing monotone wash sketches!

Excellent light fastness.

Frida – “Naphthol Red – PR170

Watercolor swatch of

Made from a fugitive pigment (that means it will fade in the sunlight), FRIDA is nevertheless a joy to paint with! It is heavily staining, and quite dark at full strength.

Moderate light fastness.

Mixing Colors with the Brights Watercolor Palette


Some of the Bright’s Palette colors along with colors mixed from them.

​While writing this post, I tested the watercolors by mixing new colors and painting swatches of them, so of course I must conclude by sharing just a few of my favourites:

Green and purple are combined to create a pretty nettle green.

Jimminy + Royal = Nettle

While Jimminy might be at home on several members of Class Insecta, including it’s namesake cricket, I often prefer a less saturated green for painting dreary grass and foliage. Mixing Jimminy with just a smidgen of Royal mutes it to a calmer green. “Nettle,” let’s call it.


Red and blue paint can be mixed to create a deep velvet color.

Frida + Butterfly = Velvet

This plush wine color is an almost equal mixture of Frida and Butterfly. I love how deep and rich Velvet becomes when highly concentrated.


Dioxazine violet and phthalo blue make a beautiful seaweed green.

Royal + Mermaid = Seaweed

One of my favorite hues mixed from Royal and Mermaid is a teal we’ll call “Seaweed.” Experiment with mixing these two colors yourself, and you’ll come up with some lovely shades ranging from elegant forest greens to denim blues.


If you already have one (or both) of these palettes, which are your favorite colors (or color combinations)? I’d love to hear about them! And if you have any further questions about the watercolors, don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll do my best to help.

Sources for pigment information: