Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

You can send an email to [email protected] if you have questions about how to use this forum.

Palette Question - what to use when you can't use Mark's

mhqoilmhqoil -
edited May 23 in Studio & Supplies
My challenge is mixing the right values, or value steps. Everything gets muddled together on my plastic plate, which I am using for a palette. I don't have space for one of those table palettes that Mark uses, although they look like the gold standard.

What would you recommend for a palette for someone with limited space? Or do you have any advice about keeping the values from all mixing together on the palette?

I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Maybe not mixing steps up all at once (I don't know where to put them)? Maybe there's a problem because I'm not doing the traditional SDM and am just using brush dip to mix the colors? Maybe it's my fault for seeing the right colors in different spots on the plate and swirling the brush around all willy nilly? Maybe not using enough brushes?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Also, thanks for all the kind advice given already in attempts to get me over the beginner hurdles.


  • dencaldencal -
    edited May 23

    Artist colors are single pigments. Student or budget colours are hues with multiple pigment mixes and give inconsistent value mixes.

    fridge shelf, pick up at the scrap yard.
    Glass cutting board. c$10 kitchen supplies or dept store.
    Old glazed picture frame. c$5 charity shop.
    Window glass, thicker is better.
    Glass from a glazier c$25.

  • Maybe try doing a black and white painting, so you can mix up one value string on your palette, then concentrate on getting the values right.

    You can use a dark-light range of one hue too like I did here:

  • Glass is your best option. Almost all commercially available palettes are too small for doing DMP color strings and for my money plastic is the worst material choice. I bought tempered glass shelves for less than $7 each 12X16 and two 14X24 inches. It's ok to use 2 or more smaller pallets as well. Having a place to put them is another problem. You just have to get creative. Palette paper is another option but wastes a lot of paint. You can conserve paint in a number of ways but the easiest with palette paper is to scrape all the paint off into a jar with a tight lid you can use for future paint piles. Or @dencal 's favorite solution; snap caps. Each color in a separate container.
  • @dencal Thanks for your suggestions! I will get some glass for sure. Appreciate the different price options. A glass cutting board is a great idea. Seems tougher to break and I am prone to clumsiness. Have a great day!

    @BOB73 The shelves seem great. How about a photo? Jk, I will try to trick you into a photo of your place that you claim can't be photo'd. I will steer clear of plastic per your suggestion. I did get one of these sealable palettes for storing colors. If that doesn't work out, I will try dencal's snapcaps. I will just have to get creative for storage as you say. I need to see what I really have space for.

    @Richard_P Trying a black and white painting is 100% what I need to do next. My first few paintings have been slowly breaking my ego of the idea that I might have natural talent or somehow be a master without even trying. I really need to start simple. My next photo or the one after will be black and white.
  • From my own experience,  I decided to focus on neutrals-only for a while to improve my sense of value.  Warm-grays or cool grays depending on the subject leaving hue and chroma out as distractions.  Low-chromas then are easy by just adding a touch of color afterwards.

    The other change I made was to mix my colors with a palette knife with little or no medium.  Leaving the paint stiff, then scraping and moving it to its place in the string rather than great moist puddles in the center of the palette.  Then using a moistened brush when I'm ready to paint.

    I keep my original paints in a resealable palette and dip or scoop-out with a clean palette knife as needed to my glass mixing palette.  If I need more room or for a longer session I have paper-palettes that I can throw away or loosely-roll and place in the studio frig.  If i don't need the paint it often gets scraped up into a glass jar for future canvas-tint.

  • @TedB. Sounds really good, I just need the self discipline to do it. I really need to do at least a couple black and white instead of rushing into something that's obviously beyond me. Appreciate the suggestion. 

    Mixing with the palette knife is something I have no experience with. I like this suggestion a lot and think it might help build discpline in me instead of making puddles of paint and then swirling away everywhere with my brush. 

    My next piece will either be a black and white apple or some flowers. Perhaps an apple, that seems the easiest.

    I really appreciate your comment because I can start to visualize a workflow that might work for me. Use palette knife on glass to mix the colors, store in the resealable palette, then dig out with a palette knife for a paper palette. I can see this helping provide the discipline I need. I will think about it and then possibly approach the apple this way. Thanks Ted!!
  • TedBTedB -
    edited May 26
    I like a palette knife for mixing since it can deal with stiff paint easily, it's easier to clean, you avoid having to mash a brush about to mix paint, and you can easily move paint puddles and piles cleanly.  You can get palette knives online in sets without buying the horribly expensive ones straight-away.  Just buy steel ones, not the cheap plastic ones.   A couple of different shapes and sizes helps.

    I was never a fan of knife-painting, but after watching Australian painter Dusan Malobabic I've been inspired.  Especialy for urbanscapes where much of the built-environment has hard, linear edges.
  • RenoirRenoir -
    edited May 23
    I use glass cutting boards with removable rubberized corner bumpers. I can take the corners off and once it's scraped, I can easily wash it in the sink. (I think dishwasher safe too)

    This is one of my palettes with dried on paint from .... 2 months ago? fyi, these are 12" x 15" and it's easy to have two going at one time.

  • Renoir said:
    I use glass cutting boards with removable rubberized corner bumpers. I can take the corners off and once it's scraped, I can easily wash it in the sink. (I think dishwasher safe too)

    This is one of my palettes with dried on paint from .... 2 months ago? fyi, these are 12" x 15" and it's easy to have two going at one time.

    Thanks Renoir. This looks good. Is this textured or flat? Thinking textured will be most common and wonder if that's ok.  Thank you!
  • @mhqoil It's a poor photograph. It's definitely flat and smooth. The back side is textured. I usually lay the palette on a towel similar in color to cardboard. Because of the terry cloth of the towel, the texture and the towel texture are not a distraction. Plus, the ease of use is fantastic.

  • Here is a second vote for glass cutting boards. I picked up a 12x16 that was clear then painted the back a neutral color using the canvas stain. I put the palette in a palette seal which gives me a nice ledge to lean my arm on at time and prevents me from getting paint on my arm. When I am done with my painting session I put on the airtight lid which helps the paint last longer.

  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited May 25
    @mhqoil I don't have a reasonable photo of my palettes but they are almost identical to the ones shown in MC's video about building your own palette table and Renoir's 12 X 15. mine are painted with the canvas stain color on the bottom. The 12x16 I have fits in a Matheson palette seal. I can not paint unless I have adequate space to leave my furniture and equipment unattended for days so I know your problem.
  • Looks like there's an ideal solution and you all have it! Now I know what to look for. I will try to find one of a similar size and look into getting the palette seal. Thanks so much!!!!
  • It didn't take me long to find an unused 9x12 glass cutting board. And I got a palette seal. Really liking the palette seal! Might upgrade to a bigger cutting board sometime. But as it, it's very portable with most of my gear.

    Thanks very much for the advice! Glad to have found something that's great without too much trial and error. Saved me time and money. It seems to be working great!

Sign In or Register to comment.