With so many different palettes available it can be confusing to know which one is right for you – especially if you are a beginner! Well we’re here to simplify things for you (as well as give you a few tips and tricks along the way!). Let’s break things down into categories: ceramic, plastic, wood and disposable palettes.
These are great for watercolour and gouache paints! They are often found in a circular format but come in rectangular and square shapes too. Many of them have little compartments – or wells – which hold water and paint and stop paint colours cross-contaminating. Because of the smooth, glossy surface, watercolour and gouache paints can be used over and over again by simply re-hydrating them as the paint won’t seep into the palette. These palettes are also a dream to clean, with just a little soap and water.
These palettes are best used with water-based paints such as acrylic and watercolour/gouache. Some plastic palettes are made with a special kind of plastic that allows acrylic paint to just be peeled off once dry. They come in all shapes and sizes, some with wells and others without. It’s definitely a good palette to have for general use.
Wooden palettes are the more traditional sort of palette and work best for oil paints. To ensure you get the most out of your palette they should be prepared in the right way. This will ensure that your paints don’t have all the oil sucked out of them and your brushes last longer. This video has a great tutorial on how you can prepare your palette with linseed oil to get a beautiful, smooth finish on your palette.
These are usually in a pad format – and often you will have various weights of paper and sizes to choose from. Thicker disposable palette paper can be more expensive, but it is less likely to curl and can withstand more paint and heavier mixing. Disposable palettes are great for working on the go, painting classes and workshops and also for traveling as once you have used a palette sheet it can be torn off, throw away, and the pad can simply be popped bag into your bag without any hassle of a clean-up required.
If you’re looking for some inspiration why not check out this link for amazing photos of the palettes of some of the most famous painters of all time!