Tool Tip Friday 6: Palettes

Tool Tip Friday 6: Palettes

Posted by Oksana Ossipov on Oct 19th 2018

One of the essential parts of painting is a palette. Pretty much anything can be used as palettes, but there are a few purpose built varieties available. There are wooden, plastic, glass, paper, and homemade palettes. The only one that I have not tried is a glass palette. In my opinion, it is too fragile, and can make quite a mess if mishandled.

Folded paper palettes is the “go to” option for me, as they always remain available and don’t need cleaning . These are used mainly to paint my polymer clay creations. For this purpose, I usually dilute acrylic paint with a lot of water, and just grab any scrap paper that I have lying around. The thicker cardstock paper takes the water better as it doesn’t fall apart after being wet for a while. There are also dedicated paper palettes available for sale, and they’re usually made to handle water and paint better.

When paper scraps fail, I turn to tinfoil while painting my sculptures. It handles water much better, and doesn’t fall apart as easily. It also sparkles :D

I haven’t had much luck with plastic palettes. The flat ones work great for watercolor, but those shaped like the one below are completely useless for the way I work. Normally, I do not mix separate colors; I keep adding them on and making new shades instead. Therefore, it doesn’t work for me to have colors separated. Plastic palettes are hard to clean, too. The acrylic paint dries fairly fast, and it’s hard to remove it even from the smooth surface of plastic. One option is to just peel it off, but it’s quite difficult and might require some soap and water. This particular palette also has a weird shape; it just doesn’t lie well in my hand. Perhaps it’s made for a left-handed person.

My favorite palette for working on acrylic paintings is a homemade one as well. It’s an ice cream bucket lid! I have picked up this trick from one of my professors in college, and I have been using it ever since. It is a perfect size and shape, and it becomes a work of art in the process. When the layers of paint build up to the level of being able to hold on their own, I usually just peel it off carefully and get a beautiful abstract artwork.

Wood palettes are great for oil painting in my opinion. The palette has to be conditioned first with linseed oil, as it seals the wood and doesn’t allow the paint to penetrate it. After that, it’s quite easy to get the wet paint off with a palette knife. Below is an example of an untreated wood palette. It can be handled in any hand, as it’s easy to flip upside down, and the two surfaces are equally workable. It is important to support the palette with the whole arm rather than just your wrist in order to avoid putting extra pressure on the hand.

I hope you found this article helpful! Feel free to reach out with comments and questions on Twitter: @truenoirart