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  • Murray's Art & Framing

All About Palettes

An artist palette is the surface upon which you squeeze out and mix the paint - used for Oils, Acrylics, Watercolours, Gouache, when Sketching out & about.


Each of these mediums requires a certain type of palette to facilitate the use of the paint. Within each though, there are different varieties that will give different results or have various uses.


Oils: The traditional style of palette for oils is the kidney shaped one made of wood that can easily be carried while painting. These are still popular today. The shapes have changed to a more rectangular format in many cases. But there are many other options today, made with a variety of materials– glass, Perspex, clear or white acrylic, and paper (disposable).


Some artists prefer to work on a neutral mid-coloured palette, such as wood-tone or grey. With these they can immediately see the tonal aspects of the colours placed there. Others like the crispness of a white or clear surface with which to mix translucent colours that glow and allow easy layering.



Acrylics: A palette for this medium is less specific than for oils. This is because the main consideration beyond colour mixing is keeping the paint from drying too quickly for easy use. Some of the most popular palettes here are the ‘Stay-Wet’ variety. These may have a lid and a sponge with a disposable paper palette to allow the paint to stay wet for an extended time.


Another version of this concept is the Mijello Artelier Airtight Peel-off palette which has a large mixing area and wells for paint around the outer edge, with the lid serving for mixing also. This airtight structure keeps acrylic paint fresh for days or even weeks. When ready to move on to the next painting, with a fresh lot of colours, the now dried paint lifts off. For an easy, low mess option, there are paper disposable palettes in pads. These come in clear or grey and a couple of sizes.



Watercolours: The variety of palettes for this medium is many and varied. The most popular of all are large with deep wells and mixing areas. There are several different brands, and variations on this arrangement. The deep wells allow the paint to be put out ready for the painting to proceed. These palettes also several large mixing areas, which varies depending on the palette.


Ceramic palettes have become more popular and more affordable recently. These are a smaller style, with only small arrangements of wells and are sturdy, long-lasting and easy to clean. They are mostly used for botanical or miniature artworks. Because ceramics have a difference surface to the plastic variety, it can improve the performance of your paint mixing. This is because watercolours do not ‘bead’ or even stain, as often happens on a plastic palette.


Finally, we stock a large range of economical palettes of many different arrangements. Some are foldable, some have lids and others not.


This is a working palette of our Watercolour Tutor Roslyn Hartwig.

A colour wheel arrangement with earth colours at the top. Blobs of colour are placed in the corner of the wells, and each well is used to 'prepare' the paint ready for use. The messiness of the mixing areas becomes a useful source of interesting and varied neutrals. Roslyn has been using a Neef 4 well palette since she started painting 25 years ago. (And managed to wear one out several years ago)



Travel Palettes: An essential part of any artist’s kit is at least one, travel palette to do pen and wash sketches on the go. We have quite a few palettes that have colours already in them. But a mention too that we have a number of foldable palettes in which you can use your favourite tube colours to fill the empty pans. Our favs are the mini metal palettes that will fit into your pocket, purse, handbag or sketching kit. And for botanical artists (or those who like a LOT of colours), two of these palettes have many wells so that you can have a complete range of your best colours, still in travel form.


Want to learn more about the products we stock at Murray's Art & Framing?

Pop in to visit us at 485 Ruthven Street, downtown Toowoomba, Qld.

Or you can view our most popular items on our Art Supplies Page.

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