Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wet Wet Wet. (The Palette, not the Band)

Today I'm going to talk briefly about using a wet palette when painting. I was getting frustrated at my paints drying while still on the palette previously, and they were also drying out quickly while on my brush. (A 45 degree Celcius heat wave is not an ideal evironment for painting...)

In my searching across the internet, I heard of a mysterious thing called a 'wet palette'. I tracked down some info on how to do it, and it has made painting much easier and more enjoyable.

While they can be bought, I'll show you how to make one for less than $10 Australian.

You'll need the following:
  • A flat, shallow container of an appropriate size (basically, big enough for you to use as a palette). I got mine from the local cheap store for $2.
  • Some paper towel/kitchen wipes.
  • Baking paper - this has to be porous, so the waxed type won't work.
  • Water.
That's it! The following steps put it all together:

Here's the container I use:

Line the bottom of the container with your paper towel/cleaning cloth. The idea of this is to absorb the water so it isn't sloshing about in the bottom of your container:

Now pour some water in so your padding at the bottom becomes completely soaked, but there isn't excess water:

Now grab your baking paper and cut it to size to fit in your container:

Pop the baking paper in and press down - you should feel it become 'damp' as the water starts to come through:

And that's it! Use it just like you would with a normal palette, but you should find your paints take a lot longer to dry out than before, meaning less wastage! Keep in mind that you only need to add a little bit of water from a jar using your brush when using these paints - they will thin down somewhat just from sitting on the palette.

It also means that if you mix paints, they'll last longer and save you from trying to reproduce colours.

One thing I find is that, for some colours, if they are left overnight the pigment will separate from the carrier liquid and will require a bit of mixing up again to restore to normal. Not a big deal though!

P.S. - for those who are interested, the wet palette works by attempting to maintain an equilibrium of water on both sides of the baking paper. As the paint dries out, it draws water through the baking paper to rehydrate itself.

So there you go - educational AND useful. Who says the two don't go together?


Col. Corbane said...

I need to get me one of these for my Heroquest models. Thanks for sharing mate.

Frag_Dad said...

Thanks for the comment! If just one person picks something up from my blog posts, then I think that's great!

Happy painting!

Mjelnir said...

Ahh thats why my pallete wasnt working i was using the waxed stuff. Definitly be using this once i get home.

Farthestgoose said...

Great post, very well described and illustrated. I'll certainly be trying this. Keep up the informative work!

chad said...

I was taught this exact method when I started painting, and I cannot imagine using anything else.

Thank you for sharing these simple and clear instructions. I urge your readers to try your suggestion.

Charles Feduke said...

Also Michaels (in the US) carries these rinse water containers; the top of the containers can be opened to serve as a palette. If you cut an anti-static foam pad (like one that comes with a computer motherboard) to size to fit into the palette and use palette paper you can get a wet palette pretty cheap - plus have the nice rinse water container. The wet palette is sealable - I have had a brown I mixed stay wet now for over 2 weeks (though it will spread and spill if you jostle the palette too much).

Frag_Dad said...

Thanks for the comments all, I hope you find it useful! I don't paint without a wet palette anymore, it's just such a big improvement!

@Charles: Thanks for sharing the info, there's certainly more than one way of making a wet palette!

Happy painting all!

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