Every year growing up my aunt sent Christmas presents to be opened under our tree. She was good at sending us thoughtful gifts every year, wrapped neatly and with precise bows. When I was in the 9th grade she sent me a small box that contained a marvel of engineering: a Windsor & Newton portable watercolor set. My aunt was a watercolor artist, and when she heard I was interested in going to art school, she sent me as many supplies as possible. I wasn’t interested in being a watercolor artist but I did use watercolor as part of my process, and the fact that she was a working professional was inspirational to me (and probably helped convince my Dad that paying for art college was not a waste of time). She passed this week after a short illness; she was in her 90s. She raised two boys and multiple grandchildren and remained a working artist up until she died; I have her watercolor of Finley as a baby on our mantle.
This kit is pretty incredible; it’s a small box a little larger than a pack of cigarettes. It folds open into a well of sixteen colors and three mixing trays, holds a reservoir of water and a cup, and contains an incredibly versatile collapsible brush. I used it through the art program at high school, took it with me to college, and used it through years of illustration freelance work. It’s currently tucked into my drawing bag, waiting for post-pandemic figure drawing studio to commence. It was invaluable for years, I think of her whenever I open it, and I treasure it. Thanks, Aunt Lois.