Palette and Palette Knife

Your going to need a palette and palette knife for your painting experience.  Palettes used for painting are made of several different materials. these materials are wood, plastic, metal, paper and masonite. Some artist have even used glass however, I would not recommend it because the glass could possibly break. I would get a sizable palette for use in the studio.  Choose a 12×16 or slightly larger. Most palettes will have a thumb hole, which makes them convenient to use.

Wood Palette

The wood palette should be seasoned, preferably by rubbing in a 50/50 solution of linseed oil and a solvent. If you do not want the natural tone of wood, you can add a small amount of paint to this mixture. You might use white, possibly mixed with some umber or black. Let the palette set for a week or better before applying a second coat, (which is advisable). Make sure you wait at least another week before using this palette.

Plastic Palettes

Plastic palettes come as white, clear or frosted. With the clear or frosted palette you have the option of taping a piece of colored paper to the bottom. I use the white plastic palette in the studio because, I sometimes paint with glazes and I believe the glaze showes up better on this surface. Also, most disposable palettes are white; although a few gray ones are appearing on the market.


I generally do not recommend masonite but, if you choose this, you’ll probably, (because of it’s dark color), want to apply a coat or two of paint. This will also seal off the surface.

Disposable Palette

The disposable palette makes for easy clean up. It comes in tablet form with easy tear off sheets. They come with or without a thumb hole. I use the 9×12 for outdoor painting.

Setting Up Your Palette

I arrange my colors on the palette starting with white on left side then yellows, reds, green, blue and umber. You may decide otherwise. The important thing is to use the same arrangement ever time.

I do not leave my paints dry on the palette. I prefer to start with a clean one every time. So, I will clean it off after each painting session. Some artists will leave the paint dry on the palette, then apply new paint over the old. If this is what you prefer then do it.

The Palette Knife

You will need a good palette knife for mixing your paint colors and for applying paint to the painting surface. Palette knives come in many different sizes and shapes. I suggest either the trowel or multi angle to start with. And the blade should be about three to four inches long. If you choose the trowel shape, make sure it has an offset handle.

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