Painting Tip r Tool

Q: Tell me about your painting palette. Looks like a whiteboard but I know it’s not. I would love to have that amount of space!

A: My studio palette is a porcelain table I’ve been using for about 30 years. It’s 25 inches deep by 40 inches wide and stands 30 inches from the floor. I love it!

I prefer a white palette to the grey that a lot of other artists use. I love juicy color and I can see more clearly the exact hue I am mixing when it is on a white surface (one of the great colorists of our time, Norman Rockwell, used a white palette as well). Plus, it mimics the white of the gesso on my panel.

My palette is stable and big enough to allow me to mix to my heart’s content. A large palette is essential for loose imaginative painting because it allows us to experiment easily and mix large piles of paint

Several problems can bog us down when our palettes are small:

  1. We often feel pressured to use what we’ve mixed at the moment, even if it’s not quite what we want, because it’s inconvenient to scrape it off and start over or we don’t want to waste paint. With a larger palette we can simply start a new mixture on another area.
  2. We tend to use smaller brushes because they fit better when mixing in a small space. Small brushes encourage us to focus on details rather than the more important larger design shapes.
  3. We can’t be as loose and free flowing in a small mixing area. That can carry over into our painting style and tighten up our approach. It can also constrain our imagination and creativity because the boundaries on our limited-space palette sometimes become mental boundaries as we approach the painting.

I encourage you to use as big a palette as your space and budget will allow, within reason – a 4 by 8 foot palette might be a little overkill (then again…).

Once in a while I hear of someone finding one like mine at a yard sale or auction, but they’re pretty rare.

Using glass on a white (or grey) base like a table would work as well.

Have fun searching for or creating your own large imagination workstation.

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