94 – The Perfect Palette

So much of oil painting is mixing. Accurately mixing color depends on seeing color accurately. We need the right surface to mix color on. We also need to have a surface that allows us to mix paint to the proper viscosity. We also need something that is easy to clean! Plastic palettes get easily scratched up from palette knife use. Wooden palettes get stained and are hard to clean up. Paper palettes are great for on the go or for certain situations but have some obvious limitations.

Here’s what I use. It’s a glass palette that I made myself with some very simple supplies. I used a piece of glass that I had in my studio. This is a great option because it is the perfect surface to mix on; it’s painted middle grey on the back, making it easy to judge the value of colors and it’s easy to clean. Palette knife and brush mixing on it is smooth and satisfying. Last but not least, this can be customized to any size that works for your particular workspace.

Here are the supplies I used to make it: Rubber work gloves Piece of 16 x 20 glass ( you can use any size that works for your work space) A piece of sand fine paper A piece of steel wool A can of middle grey spray paint A piece of 16 x 20 foam core (cut to the same size as your piece of glass) A can of Super 77 spray adhesive Glass cleaner Paper towels Mask Step 1 – Carefully sand the edges of the glass until with the sandpaper while wearing heavy duty work gloves. Be careful! Step 2 – Now carefully buff the edges of the glass with a piece of steel wool until smooth while wearing heavy duty work gloves. Be careful! Step 3 – Clean the glass on both sides with the glass cleaner and paper towels. Wear those gloves! Step 4 – Spray paint one side of the glass using several thin coats rather than one thick one until it’s completely covered and opaque. Let dry completely. Step 5 – Cut a piece of foam core to the same size of your glass. Step 6 – Spray the foam core with a coat of spray adhesive wearing a mask so you don’t inhale the adhesive Step 7 – Carefully set the glass with the unpainted side up onto the foam core.

Wala! You have a great palette for your studio space! You can also have a piece of glass cut to size to put into a pochade box. You can skip the foam core for this. Then use silicon gel to keep it in place.

I hope this DIY palette will get lots of mixing mileage in your studio! Happy Painting, Marla

Painting Minilessons
with Marla Baggetta

These “mini-lessons” grew out of my blog. I love sharing my experience behind the easel, so these are free. I write a new one every two or three weeks, so please feel free to share with artist friends.

​These lessons are mostly written text with graphics…short but useful tidbits from the foundations of painting that touch on subjects such as aerial perspective, simultaneous contrast or using negative spaces. I guide you through different aspects of painting and art that will get you comfortable with using pastels. You’ll gain confidence to attempt work that you might have otherwise been timid about.

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