View Full Version : Palette: what material for acrylics?

11-06-2004, 03:21 PM
Hi all :wave:

Question about what palettes are appropriate for acrylic. So far, for much smaller paintings, I have been using wax baking paper and then storing it in a plastic covered tray with a wet cloth, as I read here on WC!, and that worked great; but now that the amounts of paint I need have increased exponentially, I need to change my method, because the wax paper can't take the sheer amount!!

Instead--Can one use plastic, metal, ceramic, wood? I'm talking about a flat surface to mix colours on and just generally work from. Do people use trays, mirrors, panels, plastic items meant for food? Anything I should avoiid? Anything people here swear by?

I'm working on a painting which is 150cm x 120cm (what's that, maybe 5 feet by 4.5 or something?) so in addition to the above flat surface, I would like to be able to store a large amount of mixed colour. I've read here on the site about keeping mixed colours in film canisters, but those will be much too small. Are plastic ex-food containers okay? or glass jars?

Thanks very much in advance for your help!! (and wish me luck with this massive painting, I am terrified!! :o ) :rolleyes:

11-06-2004, 03:36 PM
I remember the first time I ever tackled a large canvas--5'x5'--and it was daunting. Once I got the lines drawn in and a few areas of paint laid on, it wasn't so scary anymore!

For a palette I use freezer paper, which is 18" wide and as long as you want it. To keep it in place, I use a piece of masonite and clamp the paper on it with snack/chip bag clamps; they are big and wide. Cut several pieces of the paper and wrap the ends around the end of the masonite and clamp it, so you can strip off the top one and save it or throw it away.

Hope this helps--

11-06-2004, 03:39 PM
I put together a group of jelly/jam or peanut butter jars with tight lids and find the acrylics keep really well there for a long period of time!!!
They're about 3" x 4" or thereabouts! I give them a spray of water every few days if they look like they're drying at all. :)

11-06-2004, 03:56 PM
Any type of palette material would work for acrylics, except wood; Never use a wood palette. The wood absorbs the water from your paints, leaving you with nothing but dry blobs of colors. This is something that a mister bottle can not save you from.
Paper/plastic plates make great palettes. When you're done, you can just throw it away.
I personally use an "acrylic palette", which is simply a palette from an art store that is suited for acrylics. Don't let this stop you from using other surfaces, though. Just as acrylics can be painted on almost any surface, they can be placed on almost any surface as well. Makes sense, doesn't it?!


11-06-2004, 05:14 PM
ps: I also use a Masterson Stay Wet pallette. But might not hold enough of each color for your large paintings? I think the glass jars (jam/jelly) etc might be just right? :)

11-06-2004, 05:31 PM
I have a rolling kitchen trolley that holds all my paints. On top I have a large piece of glass (with taped edges if you don't have safety glass) about 24"x18" or so. It's perfect because I can keep paint on it by covering with cling film every night. And it's easy to clean with a razor blade.


11-06-2004, 10:09 PM
Glass is hands-down the best palette for general mixing with acrylics because you can use a single-edged razorblade to clean with practically no effort. I used Perspex for 20 years and it's fine but the inevitable scratches leave a surface that dried acrylic paint can cling to very strongly.

For storage and for long painting sessions where you don't want the paint to dry out a commercial stay-wet palette can be useful, you can also make a similar type of thing yourself.


11-07-2004, 07:17 AM
Thanks so much for the ideas and advice, all. I will see what I can get my hands on!

11-07-2004, 10:37 AM
A restaurant supply house can be a good source for cheap disposable containers, anything from salad dressing size to take-out size. There are also a lot of inexpensive containers available in supermarkets now. Glad makes one which is just the right size for a large housepainter's brush. If I have to store paint, I usually put a layer of cling film on the paint surface.

I usually only store house or sign paint. For art, I pre-mix as little as possible, so my "palette" is just a sheet of aluminum foil, dull side up, which I toss at the end of every session. If I need portability, I wrap a few layers around a sheet of masonite, and dispose of the top layer as needed. I like the neutral color of foil. Paint on a white surface is too much contrast for me.

If I needed something permanent, I'd probably opt for glass with a neutral color underneath. When we bought our house, we also purchased the homeowner's glass computer desk, which she was using in her art studio. I thought it was a brilliant idea to use something like that as an art table! The pullout keyboard tray would serve as the perfect glass palette, and the desk could even double as a light table. Then we decided it was too pretty to use in the studio, so now our computer sits on it. :)


Rose Queen
11-07-2004, 12:47 PM
I agree that glass is the best, but make sure it's tempered glass (which has to be done after they cut it to size for you) and ask them to grind the edges smooth when they're done, even if you plan on taping them like timelady recommends.

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11-07-2004, 01:43 PM
Unless you're careful. I just use leftover glass from our framing in the shop. Not tempered, not ground edges. Just nice dangerous sharp glass. :) I've only broken it a couple of times and as long as it's on a hard solid surface it seems fine. The piece I'm using now has been there about a year!

But I'm rather foolhardy. ;)

11-07-2004, 04:57 PM
...make sure it's tempered glass (which has to be done after they cut it to size for you)
Er, factory-tempered window glass is cut in window-making places (for individual panes of a mullioned window for example) and then immediately set into the frames or made into double-glazed units...


11-08-2004, 09:21 AM
The glass in the bottom of a microwave works great. You can pick them up at a thrift store for a few dollars. Some are textured some are smooth, get the smooth. I put a piece of grey paper under the glass for a neutral mixing pallette.


11-12-2004, 11:29 AM
Get some smooth ceramic tiles for the small jobs, cheap and easy to hold while painting if needed. The paints will peel off or easily scrape off with a razor scraper. Larger works are best with a nice chunk of heavy glass on a table if you can. Both are great because you can spriz with water to keep the paint workable, and you can use saran wrap to cover up the palette to keep it from drying out. Aviod wood or plexiglass kinds of palettes used for oils because acrylics will adhere much too well. If you want plastic, find containers made from HDPE2 (polyethylene plastic) and use them. Most plastic containers for household items are made with this plastic, so you can literally cut a plastic palette from an old laundry detergent bottle or whatever.