Self-expression, Communication, and Exploration with Art Toolkit

As summer comes along, we envision sunny days and grand adventures outdoor. This is the perfect time to take our TRAVELER’S notebook along for journeys and outings with friends and family. As we explore new things, writing down and recording these memories in colorful ways is a great way to preserve those experiences. This summer, we collaborated with Art Toolkit which is based in Port Townsend, Washington, to release an artistic tool that becomes a great companion for your drawings, painting, and all sorts of art adventures.

The portable Pocket Palette by Art Toolkit is an iconic creation by founder Maria Coryell-Martin that stems from her own needs with she started in the creative field as an expeditionary artist. Her scientific and creative career took her around the world to capture moments and drawings that contribute to the polar and glacier science field. Her love for art led to a series of creations that are field-tested and loved by artists who enjoy making art anytime, anywhere.


About Maria Coryell-Martin

Maria’s journey as an artist began when she was young. From doodles to comic drawing, she uses art as a way to express her emotions and play. Her father was a scientist who teaches and studies sea ice, which lead to academic trips to Japan when he would be teaching at the location. It was in Japan that she got to experience the Japanese craftsmanship of brush making and Sumi art in her local community. This experience with art at that age was the tool for crossing language and cultural barriers during her stay.

When Maria graduated from college, she received a Thomas J. Watson scholarship that funded a 13-month project to explore remote regions through art. This unique experience took her to French Polynesia, Tibet, West Africa, and Greenland. At each location, her on-location drawings always sparked conversations and invited connections.

“A journal and sketchbook are always more inviting than the camera. Instead of staying behind the technology, you have an open book. It always leads to adventures, big and small. When you spend time capturing the moment through art, you also remember it more vividly.”


Traveling artists as naturalists and educators

Meanwhile, Maria’s approach as an artist is diving into the intersection of science and education, while using art to express those findings and spark scientific inquiry. She believes that artists who create art outdoors are like naturalists who hone their skills of attention and observation. Her inspirations come from artists such as Thomas Moran, Edward Wilson, and Emily Carr, who created masterful pieces that capture the landscape and the people of the environment they are in. Their experiences as explorers are also shared through education with people who view their art.

It was her initial forays in her expeditionary trips in Greenland that sparked the need to create useful tools to paint while in nature. While on a small island in Eastern Greenland, Maria juggled a camera, sketchbook, and sketching tools as she crawled towards walruses to monitor and sketch them. Eventually, she prototyped different setups and configurations of portable palettes to end up with the Art Toolkit palettes today.

“We love how people can customize the pan configuration and how they select their own palettes for painting, it’s so personal. This passion project has been ten years in the making and started in the back room of our home.”

To Maria, art is a tool for documenting ideas and connecting places through stories and expressions. She wants anyone to experience a sense of adventure with a journal or a sketchbook, wherever you may be. Whenever Maria goes to a playground with her kid, she would bring extra paper and palettes which immediately draws the attention of other children to stop by and draw spontaneously.

Maria wanted to share the joy of painting with more people, and the first step is to make the process accessible and start. The Watercolor Pocket Palette makes it easy for you to become an explorer in your everyday life. When you are out hiking, visiting a new place, or sitting down in a café, you can immediately put out your Art Toolkit together with your notebook to draw without much hassle.

“One of the most interesting places I’ve painted with the palette is 100 nautical miles offshore off a bay in Greenland on sea ice looking for narwhals. We were sitting there, waiting quietly for the narwhals to surface. Out in that space, it was so quiet, the air sparkling, and wonderful. You can hear the sound of your breathing and your heart beating. To be able to sketch out there at that moment is magical.


The wonderful world of color mixing with the Explore palette

The “Explore” color palette in the TRC USA Art Toolkit Limited Edition Pocket Palette Prefilled set is meticulously selected to give anyone a great foundation to mix beautiful washes.

The six colors: Payne’s Grey, Permanent Red Light, Phthalo Blue, Quinacridone Rose, Transparent Yellow Medium, and Yellow Ochre, are transparent, versatile, and easy to mix. The combination will result in creative explorations in color mixing while giving just enough colors for the user to not have choice paralysis.

Finally, Maria is heading towards another artist residency in Norway later this summer. She can’t wait to immerse herself in the artic and come away with more learnings about nature.


The TRAVEL & SKETCH campaign is still in full swing throughout June and July this year. Pick up a TRC USA Art Toolkit Limited Edition Pocket Palette for your next adventure with TRAVELER’S notebook. We can’t wait to see what you can create with these wonderful tools.


Have a nice trip!

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