5 DIY Stay Wet Palette
You may want to try making your own stay wet palette. There are number of ways of making your own. Some acrylic artists use Tupperware containers and just squeeze their paints out onto a folded up wet paper towel. As the paint dries out, it pulls up some of the moisture up from the paper towel.
When you’re done painting for the day, mist the paints with water and put the lid back on. It should keep the paint wet overnight.
The paper towel can disintegrate if you work your brush over it too much. It also wastes some of the paint because the paper towel absorbs some of it.
Look for a Tupperware container with short sides. The tall edges of a Tupperware container also get in the way when I’m mixing colors with a palette knife.
I found that the DIY wet palette didn’t work as well as the Masterson palette. The Tupperware had round corners and the tall edges got in the way when I was mixing colors.
6 Peel Off Palettes
Acrylic paint doesn’t adhere well to high density polyethylene or HDPE. There are palettes made of this material such as the one pictured above.
The plastic tubes that acrylic paints are sold in are often made from HDPE. It allows you to easily peel the paint off the dry paint from the caps and the tubes.
The manufacturers of these palettes claim that when you want to clean it off, you just let the paint dry and peel it back with your finger nail. I know from experience that this works better with thicker layers of acrylic paint rather than thin layers.
However, it’s still easy to clean a peel off palette even if the paint is thin. The palette in the photos above was cleaned off in about five minutes. Just wipe off the excess paint, and then use a wet rag to scrub off the remaining paint. To clean off the final bits, scrub it with a clean damp rag.
Some artists have had success with using a plastic cutting board made from this plastic.
Clear plastic drop clothes are often made from HDPE. You could buy a roll of it and cut it down to whatever size you wish. Tape it down to a sturdy board and use that as a palette.
7 Glass Palette
Use glass palettes at your own risk! It’s possible to use a sheet of glass as a palette but there’s a potential for cutting yourself or stepping on little broken bits of glass.
The only advantage to using glass is that you can use a safety razor scraper to scrape off dried paint, but many of these other palettes offer easy cleaning too.
If you decide to ignore my advice and use a glass palette, you should probably buy one made from tempered safety glass instead of trying to make one. Do not use a scrap piece of glass from an old window because it’s probably not made from tempered safety glass. Tempered safety glass is designed to break into tiny bits of glass. The glass from windows will break into large and jagged shards of glass which are more dangerous.
8 Plexiglass Palette
Another solution is to use a sheet of plexiglass and use it for mixing paints. I tried using a sheet of clear plexiglass as an experiment. I don’t like the idea of using real glass because it’s a safety hazard.
The plexiglass palette works well for mixing but I would imagine with a lot of use it would scratch. The scratches probably wouldn’t interfere too much with the performance. Bob Ross actually sanded his plexiglass palette with sandpaper to eliminate the glare from the TV studio lighting.
To keep the paint from drying overnight, spray the palette with some water. Then cover it with an upside down Tupperware container. I also spray the inside of the Tupperware container with water too, as shown in the above photo.
Place a weight on top of it to help form an airtight seal along the edges. I usually use a tub of acrylic medium or a bottle of gesso to weigh it down. The next day the paint should still be workable.
If you’re going to leave it sit for more than a day, it’s best to mist it with water every day. Don’t let it sit too long or it could dry out or start to develop weird odors. This is true for any sort of stay wet palette, including disposable foam plates.
The cost of the Tupperware container and plexiglass is probably close to the price of the Masterson palette, so that’s the palette that I recommend.
The plexiglass palette works just like any other palette, you can mix colors on it and mist the paint with water to prevent it from drying out. That’s another advantage the Masterson palette has over this one–it’s not necessary to spray the paints while your working.
You’ll have to find a large Tupperware container that will cover the mixing area of your palette. One trick I use is to trace the shape of the Tupperware container onto the underside of the plexiglass with a marker. I then place my paints within the outlines so that they’ll fit within the boundaries of the container.
Cleaning a Plexiglass Palette
The disadvantage of this method is if it does dry out on the plexiglass, it’s very difficult to remove. One alternative is to tape a sheet of palette paper over the plexiglass for easy cleanup.
The plexiglass palette is only worthwhile if you can prevent the paint from drying out on it since it’s difficult to scrape off. A safety scraper did remove the paint but it’s not not as easy as scraping off dried paint on glass. It seems to catch on the plexiglass and it creates scratches.
The Best Way to Arrange Colors on a Palette
Squeeze out the Colors Along the Top
My palette can become quite messy when I’m working on a painting, but over the years I learned the most efficient way to arrange colors on a palette. The best strategy for laying out the colors on a palette is to arrange the colors along the top edge of the palette and use the rest of the area for mixing.
The reason why this is efficient is because it separates the area where you mix color from the paint that you squeezed out at the beginning of a session. This also works well with watercolor palettes where there are wells for each color and a separate flat open area for mixing colors.
A painting requires hundreds or even thousands of color mixes and as you’re working you’ll need to make room for new colors. This would be hard to do if you haphazardly squeeze colors out all over the palette. There’s nothing wrong in working in that manner it’s just not the most efficient way to set up a palette.
Arrange the Colors the Same Way Every Time
Another tip for arranging colors on your palette is to lay them out in the same order every time so you don’t have to think about where each color is. Arrange them in whatever order makes sense to you. I’ve been arranging mine from warm to cool and then I add earth colors or whatever unique colors I may feel I need for that particular painting.
I usually start out with this concept at the beginning of a painting but as it progresses, I find myself squeezing colors out wherever I need them. It does create a distraction though because you have to think about where each color is before you can pick up some more color. It helps to eliminate as many distractions as you can.
After spending years trying out different palette solutions for acrylic paints, I don’t think the DIY palettes are worth it. The cost is the same or more than the palettes that you can buy from a store.
The sta-wet palette is my favorite palette for paints that take days. The peel off palette or paper palettes are more convenient for shorter painting sessions and experiments. The post The Best Palette For Acrylics covers both of these palettes in depth.