What painting palette should I buy?
An artist's palette whilst being an essential part of any artist's tool kit is probably one of the most underrated and overlooked item there is! We need palettes for many different painting mediums and water-activated products, and as there is no one single palette that covers everyone's requirements, we have put this guide together to help answer any questions you may have and hopefully find the palette that is right for you? However palettes are like paint tubes! You can never have too many! Most artists have a huge collection of palettes!
Why do I need the right palette?
Palettes serve one of the most important functions and that is to help you mix paint first and foremost! They have to be fit for purpose and be the right palette for the right job from large canvas to small miniature? Firstly you need to decide if you need to set a palette up for a day? or do you need to set up your palette on a permanent basis? A small watercolour palette would be no match for acrylic paint! and similarly a large acrylic paint palette would not be suitable for a watercolour artist. The size, shape and weight has to be right as well as the material it is made from. Palettes are made from a variety of materials such as; wood, plastic, porcelain, glass or metal.
Below we have listed what palettes are appropriate to use for the most popular painting mediums being; acrylic paints, watercolour paints, gouache and oil paints.
Acrylic painting palettes
When selecting a palette for acrylic paintings there are lots of options. There are palettes that make cleaning as easy as possible, there are palettes that keep acrylic paints wet for longer than others if used properly. Palettes come in varying sizes and costs.
Stay wet palettes for acrylic painting:
Stay wet palettes for acrylic paint are designed to keep colours on the palette moist all day. They are an excellent solution for preventing your pigments from drying up in hot weather and also provide storage when concluding your day's work. These palettes will save you money by keeping your paint wet and active until the next day. The palettes usually have a permeable membrane paper which keeps the paint fresh and moist and a lid which closes over the paint to stop them skinning over, drying out or cracking. Refill papers can be bought for all of the listed Stay Wet Palettes.
Airtight Acrylic Palettes
Featuring individual wells for paint, mediums or other additives, lightweight plastic design. Some lids also act as a palette. Rigid plastic construction and convenient design make it perfect for use in a studio or as a portable palette.
The airtight seal around the lip of the palette with side clips keep paint inside from drying out in between painting sessions. Suitable for oils, acrylics and watercolours can be kept usable for days or weeks in the best possible conditions.
Disposable palettes for acrylic paints
Simply tear off the sheet and use it as a traditional paint palette, then dispose of the sheet when you are done. No more messy and long clean ups!
What is the best palette for watercolour paint?
Watercolour palettes come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on your project you can choose from a permanent palette where you can store and mix pigments to a small palette for using on smaller paintings that only take a short time and can be washed out the same day. Larger paintings will need a larger palette to enable mixing of large quantities of paint for creating washes.
Are mostly unbreakable, inexpensive, lightweight, transportable, and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some will store the paint and keep wet and have lids that double up as an additional mixing area. Some have multiple wells and large mixing areas. Some plastic palettes are very small for those miniature paintings that require little pigment mixing.
Small plastic palettes and a portable pocket sized box palette;
Great for plein air painting, mostly unbreakable, lightweight, perfect for storing pans, half-pans or tubes, not lightly to stain. Can be closed to store and protect paints. Great for travelling. Can swap pans out if you need a different palette. Most metal palettes have a small thumb ring making it easier to hold when working outside.
Ceramic and porcelain palettes;
Much heavier than metal or plastic, great for studio use, brilliant white background so you can clearly see your colours and excellent for colour mixing. Idea for Watercolours, Inks and Gouache. Non staining. Smooth surface prevents beading whilst mixing pigments.
Palettes for oil painting
Most oil painting palettes have a smooth surface, are flat, hard and kidney shaped, they don't usually need to have wells to contain the paint from moving around as the oil paint pigment is much thicker than water-based painting mediums. They have a large surface area for mixing and usually have a thumb hold which makes transportation easier around the studio or outside, and so you can keep your palette well balanced. Traditionally made from Wood but are now available in a white plastic palette or perspex. Bob Ross even does a disposable Palette so that cleaning up is as straightforward as tearing the page off the pad!
If buying the raw wood version, you must seal it with oil or varnish before use, this way the pigments won't seep into the wood, your brushes won't get damaged and this initial oiling will create a smooth surface ready for loading and mixing paint colours. Linseed oil is the perfect medium for this and aim to layer several coats on your raw wood palette, let each coat dry completely before applying the next layer, each coat will dry hard which will protect your palette for years, aim to give it at least 5 coats.
To conclude this article we hope it has been of some use and you can choose the right palette that suits your style and budget! We have plenty of variations in stock that are suitable for all mediums, check out our website for more information and purchases. Happy painting!