Updated: Sep 13, 2021
Let's discuss artist palettes, one of the all-important tools for painting! In fact, unless you squeeze, drip or splatter your paint directly from the tube onto the canvas, you will need a palette. An artist palette is the surface upon which you squeeze out and mix the paint. Traditionally, an artist's palette was a wooden board with a hole for the thumb, so that artists could hold it whilst painting. These days, palettes come in all different sizes and shapes and are made from all kinds of different materials! Each has their pros and cons, and every artist will have a different opinion about which one they prefer. Read through the descriptions below to get an idea of the different artist palette options:
traditional wooden(my personal favorite type of artist palette)
Also check out tips for keeping your artist palette and paints moist. Acrylic paint dries very quickly, so it's important to make sure they don't dry out!
Safety Glass Artist Palette
I've tried out lots of different palettes, and safety glass is my absolute favorite. These artist palettes are nice and smooth, easy on brushes, and super-easy to clean. I keep the palette next to me on a table while I work. The size is perfect, allowing plenty of room for mixing colors. It has a white vinyl backing, but mine came undone after washing the palette for the trillionth time. No problem though - I just peeled it off and now keep a plain white piece of paper or mat board underneath the safety glass palette. Works like a charm!
The best thing about this artist palette is that it is glass, yet if it breaks, it will not shatter everywhere and cause injury. I accidentally broke one once, by dropping it into the sink (it wasn't the first time that I dropped it, so it does have a strong resistance) and the glass sort of crumbled in on itself instead of shattering. It was all still in one piece, so it was easy to toss it in the trash. I suppose I could have saved it and reused it for something artsy... now there's an idea!
Plexiglass is made of clear acrylic plastic, so it's essentially the same as this palette. I mention it separately here, because you could often get a square of plexiglass fairly cheaply from your local frame shop. Before I used safety glass, I used a plexiglass artist palette. It was recommended by my art professor because it was similar to real glass, yet safer. It was a good artist palette overall, but the main downside was that it could be difficult to clean if the paint was allowed to dry on the palette. It would come off eventually, but after a lot of scrubbing!
Glass can be used as a palette, because it is nice and smooth and the paint will wash off easily. However, it is the most dangerous option! If it breaks, the glass will shatter into tiny pieces and scatter everywhere, which can be difficult to clean up. You don't want to get tiny shards embedded in your feet for days after breaking one! So I wouldn't really recommend using a real glass palette unless you absolutely couldn't find anything else. And if you must use real glass, be sure to put masking tape around the edges, because the edges can be sharp .My advice stay with safety glass palette made of 100% tempered safety glass. Backed in white safety vinyl. Designed for all paints. Smooth, non-porous surface improves color mixing. Reusable and economical unlike other palettes. Easy to clean--no mess, no dried paint build-up. Dried oil paint is removed with light scraping. Dried acrylic paint peels off.
Disposable Artist Palette
There are a few different types of disposable artist palettes available. Basically, they are sheets of specially treated heavy white paper that usually come in the form of a pad. You simply tear off one sheet at a time and discard it when you are finished. To be honest, I'm not really sure of the benefits of using disposable artist palettes, when real ones are quite affordable and last much longer. Also, these disposable palettes are only meant to be used once, which creates a lot of waste - not a very eco-friendly option!
I personally don't like it cause of its white color..it is very sharp and it makes you difficult to value your color value scale. So, while I'm not personally a fan of disposable palettes, I'm including it in the list of palettes, just in case you might find some need or use for it.
Stay-Wet Artist Palette
As mentioned earlier, one of the issues with acrylics is that they can dry out quickly. This means that if you mixed the perfect combination of paints to get a specific fabulous new hue, but you need to suddenly go away for a few hours or stop painting for night - your paints would be dried on the palette the next time you came back to them.
This isn't an issue anymore with Stay-Wet palettes! There are a few different brands of palettes on the market that are designed to retain moisture, thus preventing your paints from drying out. These plastic palettes come with a lid and rectangular sponge wedges to keep the palette moist for hours at a time. Stay-wet artist palettes can certainly be handy, and some artists love them. I used one when I was an art student for greyscale technique but for me it wasn't that great. So I would suggest only using one of these if you know you'll keep up with it. However, if you do use one and the paints harden on the plastic, one trick is to paint pure white over the colors. When that dries, give it a coat of varnish to seal it off. It won't be a nice smooth surface for mixing colors, but it will save you from needing to buy a new palette right away.
Wooden Artist Palette
Here we go - the traditional, iconic wooden artist palette, as used by artists in the "old days"! I have to admit it is worth a try - at least just for experiencing how the Old Masters used to work!
me favorite is:
NEW WAVE GRAND VIEW® NATURAL STAIN
I was a bit intimidated by this handmade wooden palette, and I didn’t want to mess it up! These palettes are handcrafted by the Amish using hard white maple along with a durable, yet chic finish.
Soft lines and a classic appearance, the Grand View® palette offers a bountiful painting experience. The Grand View® is original artist palette, designed for our own use over a decade ago. A generous paint surface allows for a variety of colors to be arranged around the outer edge of the palette without diminishing available space for mixing. The palette contains a closed grasping area with an opening large enough to hold your paint brushes or a mahlstick. It also provides plenty of surface area to hold your medium palette cup or paint cloth. All maple wood palettes are handcrafted in Pennsylvania, USA. From design, to wood selection, sanding, branding and finishing; focus is on the details during each step of the process. Material: Hard white maple wood provides you with delicate grain lines that will not distract you while mixing paint. In addition, the material is extremely light weight. Patented Design: The 3 point design provides a universal fit for all body types while keeping your wrist straight, and distributing the palette weight between the hand, rear forearm, and torso. This ensures maximum balance and comfort, and significantly reduces stress on muscles and tendons in the hand, wrist, arm and shoulder. Finish: The palettes are stained, then finished with a non-porous proprietary satin formulation that is dense, and resistant to water as well as standard artist solvents and mediums. In addition, the finish is crack proof, chip proof, non-yellowing, and freezer safe. Proper Care: Best if used with oil paint. An important palette tip: Be sure and clean off the messy paints from your mixing area after each painting session – but, you can leave your paint piles. New Wave palettes are easy to clean, unless the paint starts to harden. Avoid digging your palette knife into the surface, and do not use a razor blade. Wet oil paints can be removed with artist solvents and a plastic razor blade. If using solvents, follow proper care instructions provided by the manufacturer.