Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to Set-Up a Watercolor Palette

It is time to share these helpful tips again. Very little information is available on how to set up a watercolor palette... so I figured I'd share my technique.The palette I am showing is a Heritage Folding Palette with 18 wells. It is one of the nicest travel palettes I have seen in a while and a great price. The lid has a soft plastic seal, which keeps the palette from leaking and keeps your colors from drying out quickly. It comes with a removable clear plastic tray. I don't use the tray since the palette has an ample mixing area. 

(1) Before I use a palette I give it a light scrubbing with a mild abrasive such as soft scrub. This takes the slick surface off the mixing area and removes any residues from the manufacturing. Be sure to thoroughly rinse off the palette…you don’t want this in your paint.(2) I fill the 18 wells with my favorite selection of paint. Don’t put tiny dabs of paint in the wells…fill the wells! Tiny dabs of paint will eventually just fall out. Hold the tube over the deep end of the well then come back towards the shallow end while squeezing the tube.

(3) Let the palette sit open for a day or two. When the paint had set up and is no longer sticky I wet my thumb and push down in the center of each well. What this does is create an indentation for the water. When I get ready to paint I lightly mist the paint wells and I am ready to go.
Here you can see how nicely the paint mixes and mingles because the palette was prepared with a mild abrasive.

I've received questions about traveling with paint on an airplane.  I put my palette in my carry on luggage.I don't bring paint in tubes but instead fill my palette with fresh paint a few days before and let air dry so the paint becomes more solid. When I arrive at my destination I mist the paint with fresh water, put a small sponge inside and close overnight. The next day the paint are fresh and juicy again.  I haven't had a problem with security, yet.

My selection of paint colors by Daniel Smith Fine Watercolors



Happy Painting!


Brenda

46 comments:

  1. Excellent information and I've giving a sketchbook/art journaliing workshop in Dallas in June and I will give my students this link. I have one of your books also Joseph Stoddard's.

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  2. Love the tips, Brenda--I never thought of making an indentation for water!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! It's fun to share little tidbits of knowledge!

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  3. Very helpful, Brenda...thank you. :)

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  4. Thank you. This is just what I have been looking for.

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  5. Thank you! I recently got a really similar palette (http://www.utrechtart.com/Mijello-Airtite-Palette--Watercolor-Painting--Rose--18-Wells-MP47725-i1008014.utrecht). I already put my paints in it. I didn't think to scrub it, but I can still do that to the area where I'll mix paint. Thanks for that tip! I also like the idea of spraying water over it to get started. I'll try that too! :)

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    1. Caryn, I keep a small spray bottle with my sketching gear. I've found the small travel hair spray bottle works best (clean thoroughly first). I use distilled water so they don't clog.
      Happy Sketching!

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  6. Thank you so much! Oh, those colors look so luscious! PS Brenda, tomorrow I'm picking up my copy of Danny Gregory's new An Illustrated Jouney in which you are one of the Stars. ~Rita

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    1. Rita, You are going to love the book!
      ~Brenda

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  7. Wonderful. Those of us taking your class at Dillman's in June especially appreciate a heads up on this.
    I have been watercolor painting for 17 years so am not a "newbie" but I like to try different palettes and different ideas.
    I had one of these palettes tucked away and was using it for gouache paint. So I washed it out thoroughly and am going to set this up similar to your palette so I have some time between now and June to get a tad used to it. Thanks so much.

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    1. Ginny, I'm looking forward to Dillman's in June. We're going to have so much FUN!

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  8. Brenda, you have not met me yet, but I will be at Dillman's this June too, and I just got this palette in the mail today! I am so excited to attend your workshop!

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    1. Hi Theda, My timing was perfect for the palette post...yeah! I look forward to meeting you and having lots of fun sketching at Dillman's!

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  9. I am so happy you posted this today. I am getting ready to fill a travel palette. I have to admit, I bought an 18 color water color set at the dollar store and poked out the watercolors. Now I can squeeze in some of my good watercolors and have a travel set. You have lots of good ideas to make this work and the timing was perfect!

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    1. Wonderful...I love good finds and that palette sound like a real bargain. Have fun playing!

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  10. I was so happy to save money on the palette that I went online and bought your book! :)

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  11. Very helpful post! Thank you so much for sharing this knowledge.

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  12. very good information...thanks

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  13. Hello Brenda, I just found your blog and spent about an hour totally fascinated, reading about your travels, and sketches and descriptions of paper, pens and watercolor.. I have been working in oils for the past few years, but pen and w/c were my first love, and have neglected them for too long! I know I need to get back to it. Thank you for sharing your stories, your knowledge,and artwork.. it's all very inspiring to me!

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  14. Thank you for interesting info. :-)

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  15. I found this page most helpful. Thank you.

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  16. Hi Brenda,
    Lately I have been soaking up all I can from your blog. Its been great to find another person who has the same interests and has more experience and knowledge to glean from.
    On a separate note, I thought you might find it helpful to know that in the palette of colours you listed, the colour "Rose Violet" (by Holbien) has been renamed by the company to "Quinacridone Magenta" with no changes made to the pigment.
    Thanks so much for all the helpful tips and inspiration. I look forward to reading more!
    Take care.

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    1. Patricia,

      Wow, that is good to know! Thank you for passing the information along.

      Happy Painting!
      Brenda

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  17. Brenda, I will be attending your class in July/august. I have been unable to find Holbein's rose violet. Would quinicridone rose be close ??
    I am also unable to locate .. burnt sienna Tombow watersoluble pen which you use in your sketches on your DVD.
    Could you help. I love the book and DVD.
    Your pictures are so clean and colors are so vibrant and clear.
    Rose Gauhar

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    1. Hi Rose, Holbein has renamed Rose Violet. It's now calledQuinacridone Magenta. The pen I used in the DVD is a Tombow Burnt Sienna #947. I look forward to painting with you soon. Happy Painting!

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  18. Thank you so much. I have been unable to find the watersoluble pen. Hope Cheap joes carries it. I love your ideas and appreciate your generosity in sharing meaningful, useful ideas.
    Rose

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  19. Hi Brenda, I tried to access your paint recommendations for the small travel palette, but it's no longer available. Could you let me know what you use? thanks

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    1. Check back soon...I am writing a post about my small palette and traveling light.

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  20. I am confused re: your Viridian. Do you use W&N Viridian (PG18) or Holbein Viridian Hue (PG7)

    I want to replicate your palette and don't want to buy the wrong pigment.

    Thanks!!!

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    1. I use either W&N Viridian (PG18) or Holbein Viridian Hue (PG7). Choice is yours =)
      Happy Painting!

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  21. Great review post, Brenda. I really liked your idea of pressing a thumb indent into the semi-dry paint. I'll keep my new Heritage palette and give it a whirl. I'm glad to find this product has more than enough space for the serious painter. Thanks!

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    1. Joanne, The Heritage palette is one of the best travel palettes out there. Glad to be of help!

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  22. Thank you Brenda so much for the helpful tips, I ordered a plastic palette and my colors were mixing horrible I was very discouraged. Thank you! for the scraping tip, that will help, also the color choices that you use. Thank you for being such a Great help to all of us!

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  23. Thanks so much Brenda for all the hints, it is very helpful. I have a question as to why you place quin sienna and burnt sienna away from the oranges, putting them after the greens on your palette, alongside lunar black? I am setting up a new palette and I want to understand the reasoning before I actually squirt (for lack of a better verb....) my paint. Thank you for your insight, I truly appreciate it.

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    1. Christine, Good observation and question. The reason I placed the quin sienna and burnt sienna there is I use them as a mixing color for earthy tones compared to the oranges which I use more pure. It's a personal preference and either place is fine. Happy Painting!

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  24. Thank you so much Brenda, that makes sense. Now I have more to think about :) . I'm not sure which way I will prefer.....

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  25. Hello, and thanks for this interesting blog! :)
    I have a question: have you ever had a problem with mould growing on paints (in my case Daniel Smith variety)? I found out that W&N contain an anti mould chemical so in this type of palette it's no problem, but many of my favorite DS colors grow thick mould when kept in this type of sealable palette.
    Any tips?

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    1. Good question.
      Moistening your paints with water and a damp sponge won't cause mold overnight. And I wouldn't leave a wet sponge in your palette for a extended period of time.
      Happy Painting!

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  26. Brenda, I have my palette and all but one of the colors (that's why there are art stores) my question is why do you set up your palette in this order? I can understand some of your thinking, but would like to know more.
    Also, the missing color is marine blue.... any substitutions? I am excited to take it with me on my outdoor painting excursions with the Plein Janes (my art club's plein air group) in Colorado..

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    1. Hi Chris, Glad you found this info helpful. I can only think of a few colors that might seem out of place (to others).
      Leaf Green is used as a mixing yellow not a green. It's more yellow than you might think. Quinacridone Sienna and Burnt Sienna are used as earth tones (brown) so I keep them separate.
      Brenda

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  27. Great idea! Might add pigment info this afternoon to my palette!

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