View Full Version : Setting Up One's Pallette

01-23-2001, 02:56 PM
Hi All..I have a question about the setup process for oil painting..For me, the pallette is somewhat intimidating. Usually I just squeeze out the colors that I think I am going to need and mix them anywhere I have space. The problem with this method is one ends up with a huge sloppy mess after each session! I have read that other painters squeeze out each color that they routinely use in an orderly fashion and mix in the middle - but this seems almost incomprehensible to me..I mean, doesnt it waste the paint colors that you DIDNT end up using?, and how do you keep from muddying up the pallette with all those colors floating around?

I know I am probably missing something basic and fundamental here : ) Any advice would be great.


01-23-2001, 03:54 PM
Originally posted by vance:
I mean, doesnt it waste the paint colors that you DIDNT end up using?, and how do you keep from muddying up the pallette with all those colors floating around?

Vance, I always throw away paint at the end of a session. To me, wasted pigment is insignificant and is the price of painting. There are ways of saving paint for the next session, mostly I choose not too. Occasionally, I'll save my end of day palette mixtures for my wife, who is a wonderful abstractionist painter!

I think if anyone wants to take their work seriously you have to set out enough of each pigment so you don't have to stop, go back and re-think, while losing your concentration on the painting itself. Set out enough color! Learn good habits in your system, it usually stays with you for life. Try a larger palette surface so you have room if you are having trouble with mud! You'll find what works for you. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif

01-23-2001, 04:12 PM
vance, another reason for not sparing the paint is that you will paint more freely if you have big mounds. another thing that helps is a glass or varnished wood palette....paper ones will soak up some of the oil in your paints, causing them to get dry and pasty more quickly. if you use a glass palette, you can use a razor blade to scrape old mixtures off as you paint so you'll always have clean space.

01-23-2001, 04:35 PM
It's important to put out a full range of colors, because it they're not out, you'll tend to limit your choices while painting. If they're there, you might surprise yourself.

I use two palettes. On one, I lay out all my colors. I keep this in a palette keeper, which is a plastic tray with an air-tight lid. This keeps most colors fresh for several days - some much longer. Then I do all my mixing on a disposable paper palette.

Barry Katz

01-23-2001, 05:36 PM
Vance, All these are good suggestions. The most valuable one would be to use a large palette, 16X20 is a good size, my preference being glass. Placing a gray piece of cardboard under the glass helps seeing colors and values better. I use a wide putty knife to clean up, it's fast and easy. It's very annoying to run out of mixing space. Your color mixtures all already down and if you have to make room for mixing, you'll loose those mixtures. Secondly I would strongly suggest that you do lay out your colors in an orderly fashion, i.e. in chromatic order works well, starting with a cool yellow and ending with cyan or greens, then grouping earths together if you use them. It's important to have a system so you get to know your palette so that mixing becomes a subconsious effort; sort like a pianist knowing his keyboard.

01-23-2001, 07:14 PM
I use different colors for each painting, I kind of know what I might get into. I do keep my yellows, greens, blues, etc in the same areas on my wooden pallet so that I don't have to stop and hunt for any. You learn after awhile which colors you will use alot of and put out a good size squeeze. If I have a bunch left over and the next day they get stiff then I may use a pallet knife and do something fun with them, sometimes it works out great.
It is fun isn't it.