Choosing the Right Palette

The Right Palette for the Right Painting

NO, this is not my last painting; it’s just the latest messy palette to deal with!  I think I used it for over a week to finish the rough seas painting with dark skies.  It’s a sheet of palette paper from my large disposable palette  (I have a smaller pad of Grey Matters Paper Palette as well).

For the previous stormy sea painting, I used a 11×14 glass palette which fits nicely into the Masterson flat tray with lid palette.   What a mess to scrape up!  So, YAY!  I avoided the massive clean up job with the most wonderful Grey Matters Paper Palette which fit nicely into the Masterson palette!  I just tore off the page from the pad of 50 pages, folded it up and tossed it away!

You may have noticed the glass palette has a light brown piece of cardboard taped to the bottom, and the paper palette is gray.  Palettes that have a neutral tone make it easier to gauge values and color intensity in the mixing and painting process.  It is for this reason that I always use a toned ground on my canvas and/or a warm or cool underpainting before I begin painting.  This to me is very important, especially to avoid the sometimes vivid and garish look from acrylic paints that dry ‘darker’ than what they seem when first brushed onto paper or canvas.

Recycled Palettes

The only reason why I ended up with a Masterson palette is because I looked everywhere for a shallow cookie sheet size flat container with a lid and none could be found.  If you haven’t splurged to get one of these yet, don’t.  It’s a pain in the butt to secure the lid and will take all of 5+ minutes to squeeze all of the air out, a whole lot more work than a large Tupperware container.

I discovered many containers that could substitute for a paint palette.  They come in all sizes and are disposable for small, medium or large painting projects.  Bento lunch boxes, meat trays and dessert containers like the one on the bottom of the stack below make great palettes with their plastic lids.  You can also use plastic coated and styrofoam plates as I see artists using on their YouTube tutorials.  I sometimes use the clear lids of pie containers for the paint and invert the bottoms to cover the containers.  You can use plastic wrap or set your plate palette in a plastic bag, along with unwashed brushes and tie with a twistee and you’ll be set for the next day.  Nearly all of the palettes if kept air tight will keep oil paint pliable for up to a few days.

The exceptions are the large rectangular stay wet palette and square dessert containers in the second row below. With a slightly damp sponge cloth and light misting of the acrylic paint, the palette would be good to go up to a week if the painting is prolonged.  Remember that the paper to use with your palette is parchment or baking paper, not waxed paper or butcher paper which will tear or shred and won’t adhere to the sponge or wet material on the bottom.

Well, I hope to start another painting soon, maybe something colorful since I’ve done only ocean water recently.   How do you go about finding your next painting project?  I spend too much time thinking about what or when I will paint again so these are Robert Genn’s words to people like me:

Know that to begin is often better than to think.’