Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ready, set, paint...

I started work yesterday on a new painting that I hope to finish by the weekend for my latest challenge with Pablo. Due to the upheaval in my personal life, I haven't been getting much studio time in lately and my palette has been sitting untouched for longer than I'd like to admit. However, some years ago I discovered a great way to store my palette, so when I opened it up this afternoon, it was in perfect condition and ready to use. Here's the scoop:


I wouldn't dream of discarding paint after each painting session -- it's too expensive -- and this method of storage keeps it fresh and workable. I fill the wells in the palette at least half full or even a little more, then spray the paint lightly with distilled water and stir each one (with a toothpick) to spread it out in the well. I cover the palette (cover not shown here) when I'm not actively painting and I spray the paints with distilled water if they start drying out while I'm painting, and also before I cover my palette and put it away at the end of a painting session. When I pull it out to paint the next time, I stir any of the paints that appear to have separated, but generally don't have to spend much time on that.


The secret to this success is a Masterson Artist Palette Seal. Before I found this solution for paint storage, I used to keep my palette in a large plastic zipper bag. It was helpful, but a bit bulky since the bag was much larger than the palette. Still, by providing an extra barrier, it helped keep the paint moist.

I prefer my old Creative Mark palette over all the others I've tried, so I modified the Masterson box by slicing off the posts, as you can see in the small inset photo. With that adjustment, you can store any palette up to 12" x 16" x 1" in the Masterson box. (Although the working area of most watercolor palettes is 12" x 16," the edges of some palettes make them just a bit too large for the storage box. Measure your palette carefully if you're thinking of trying this setup.)

If you have a favorite way of keeping your palette ready to go, please share that in the comments.

Happy painting!!

14 comments:

  1. Great tips! It's good to know you're "back in the saddle again." Happy painting!

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  2. Well, I can't wait to see what you and Pablo have challenged yourselves with this time! Get painting, girl :) Glad you are back in the studio and feeling like picking up the brush again. Good info on storing paints for an extended time, too.

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  3. Thanks, Kathy!! It was fun to be back in the studio!!

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  4. Thanks, Rhonda!! I use this system on a daily basis, not just for long-term storage. It makes a big difference, given that I have to keep the humidity low because of my allergies.

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  5. Hey Chris, I have a watercolor tray that looks just like that (well, not so clean and neat...)! I've had it since art school and let the watercolors dry up sometimes for years between uses. On the rare occasions that I do a bit of watercolor, I fill each well with a little bit of water. Fifteen minutes later, they are like new again. I like your improvements!

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  6. Hi! I'm also looking forward to your next "challenge". I started using a possum palette years ago and love it - have talked many people into buying one, too! The little cups keep the paint moist. (I blogged about this a while back, if you are interested.) Glad you're back!

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  7. Hey R!! Thanks for stopping by. My palette doesn't look anywhere near that good when I'm in the middle of a painting, but I am kind of particular about keeping it clean. When I first went back to painting, the longtime regulars in a class I attended called me "the girl with the clean palette" before they learned my name!!

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  8. Hi Deb!! You know, I think I may have a little package of the possum palette cups lurking around my studio. Sounds like a great solution to our perennial problem of drying paint and more portable than my setup too I'll bet. I'll have to see if I can find them.

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  9. somewhere back aways I posted a photo or two of my "messy" palette. But I do clean it up periodically. The only addition I use is that I put a wet sponge in the mixing tray before I put the cover on. It keeps things moist but in Fl I do have to check it periodically so that I don't get any mildew or mold starting. In my acrylic paint palette I keep pennies under the wet sponge which they say helps discourage mold...have you ever heard of that? It does seem to work. Something in the copper tends to discourage the mildew.

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  10. Thanks, Ginny! I've never had problems with mold, although we live in an area where it can be a problem. Don't know if I've just been lucky or if using distilled water helps.

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  11. I tend to get mold on my watercolors (some colors more than others) if I keep my palette covered. I will definitely try the tip of putting pennies in the palette and see if that prevents the mold. I even live in Southern California!
    Thanks!

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  12. Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen!!

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