Whether you use acrylics, oils, gouache, watercolours or inks, a paint palette is a handy piece of kit for any artist.

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Artist’s palettes can be used for thinning colours before you apply them to paper or canvas, or to blend a beautiful array of shades for your latest work in progress.

The type of palette you’ll need depends on the medium you’re using. For oils or acrylics, you could use a traditional wooden palette. For more watery mediums like inks, you’ll need a palette with dips.

There are lots of different kinds of palettes available to suit your needs. For example, if you like to work on a painting over several days then you should look for a stay-wet palette. These palettes are designed to prevent your paints from drying out, so they’ll be ready when you want to return to your work. This also means you’ll waste less of your precious paints!

How to hold a paint palette

Traditional paint palettes have a distinctive curved shape with a hole for your thumb. If you’re not sure how to hold a paint palette, you might be nervous about buying one.

The good news is holding a paint palette is a lot easier than you might think. It’s worth trying this method if you paint using an easel or enjoy an outdoor art session now and then.

There are two ways to hold a paint palette. You can either hold it so that it’s resting on your arm or you can hold it out in front of you so it’s resting on your hand.

To hold it resting on your arm, simply put your finger through the thumb hole and curl your fingers around the curved dip on the edge of the palette. The palette should rest lightly on your arm rather than sticking out in front of you.

This video by the artist George Frederick Thomas shows you how to hold the palette so that it rests on your arm:

If you’re using a small palette, you can turn it the other way around and rest it on your hand. Try turning the palette around to see which position is most comfortable for you.

Now you’ve got the hang of holding a palette, read on to discover our recommended buys…

Best artist palettes to suit every painter

1. Frisk Stay Wet palette

Best for oils and acrylics

Frisk stay wet palette

If you’re the kind of painter who likes to return to a project the next day, it’s definitely worth investing in a stay wet palette. As the name suggests, these palettes are designed to keep your paints wet so that you can use them for longer.

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This is particularly useful if you’ve taken the time to mix precise colours for your painting, as you can simply pick up where you left off. Using a stay wet palette means you’ll waste less paint, saving you money too.

This palette comes with three sheets of membrane to keep it wet, so you'll need to buy refill packs once these run out.


2. Winsor & Newton tear off palette

Best for convenience

Winsor and Newton tear off palette

For artists in a hurry, tear off palettes are a game changer. When you finish a painting session, you can simply tear off the top sheet and throw it away.

The tear off palette is made from paper with a poly coating, which creates a smooth surface for your paints. Tear off palettes are most suitable for thicker paints such as acrylics, oils and gouache. Watercolours and inks would probably just run off the paper!

This pack of tear off palettes contains a generous 50 sheets, so it’s likely to last you for a long time.


3. Curtisward wooden artist’s palette

Best for painting when using an easel

Curtisward wooden palette

Classic wooden palettes are perfect for using when you want to work with an easel. This palette is designed to balance on your arm, so your paints will be within easy reach as you work.

It may take you a little while to get used to painting using a wooden palette, but once you do you’ll wonder what you ever did without one.

This Curtisward palette is made from beautiful seasoned veneered plywood, making it a lovely gift for the artist in your life. This palette is ideal for using with acrylics, oils and gouache.


4. Liquidraw 42 well palette

Best for most paint mediums

Liquidraw paint palette

This nifty palette can be used with most mediums including acrylics, oils, gouache and watercolours. It includes 42 wells, so you can work with lots of colours at the same time.

The Liquidraw palette folds away for easy storage when you’ve finished using it. It’s perfect for tucking into your bag if you’re heading out to do some al fresco painting or joining an art class.

The best bit? When you close the lid the palette is air-tight, meaning that oil paints and acrylics will take longer to dry out.

Paint a spectacular sunset

Is there anything more beautiful than a fiery sunset? Sunsets are endlessly fascinating and they’re a lot easier to paint than you might think! Have a go at creating your own stunning art with Rhiannon Bull’s sunset painting tutorial.


5. Jakar round aluminium palette

Best for inks

Jakar aluminium palette

If you’re using inks, we’d highly recommend using an aluminium or ceramic paint palette. Inks are likely to stain a plastic palette, so it’s wise to use a palette that can be easily cleaned.

Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of inks – this palette can be used for watercolours and other mediums too.


6. Handmade ceramic palette

Best for giving as a present

Handmade ceramic paint palette

Looking for a special gift for the painter in your life? We love this gorgeous ceramic paint palette from Not on the High Street.

It’s white with a stunning speckled glaze and is handmade in Somerset. It’s not the kind of thing we’d be likely to buy for ourselves, but we’d be delighted if someone bought it for us!


7. Portable hands-free watercolour palette

Best for watercolour artists on the go

Portable watercolour palette

Painting outdoors can present its own challenges, but this clever paint palette will definitely make life easier.

It’s very small and portable (roughly the size of a smart phone) and includes two built-in water containers. This palette includes spaces for half-pans of watercolour paints if you want to add your own, or you can just use them as wells for your paints.

The sides fold out to allow you even more space to mix your paints. As an added bonus, this palette includes a double-ended synthetic watercolour brush to take with you on your travels.


8. Round paint palettes

Best for artists on a budget

White plastic palettes set of five

Paint palettes don’t need to be pricey! If you don’t need anything fancy, then there are lots of affordable palettes available to buy. This set of five palettes from Amazon is a great cheap option for art students, children or painters on a budget.

Each palette features ten small dips with a larger dip in the centre for your paints. The palettes are made from white plastic and are very easy to clean when you’ve finished painting.

They’re also fairly sturdy, so should last a long time if you take care of them.


Every artist should have a paint palette in their stash

Paint palettes are incredibly handy for artists of all abilities. Whether you work with acrylics, oils, gouache, watercolours or inks, it’s always useful to have an artist’s palette nearby.

The paint palette you buy will depend on the medium you prefer using. For watercolour artists, a simple palette with dips for the paint would be perfect. For artists who like to work with oils or acrylics, a traditional wooden palette or a stay wet palette would be more suitable.

Whichever you choose, you’ll soon wonder what you ever did without one!

Treat yourself to an artist’s easel

If you start to get into art, it’s worth investing in an easel. Using an easel can transform the way you paint and make the process much more enjoyable! You don’t need to buy a massive easel either – folding tabletop easels are a great option and often include a storage space for your paints.

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Take a look at our pick of the best art easels to find one to suit your needs.

Authors

Sarah OrmeDigital Editor, Gathered

Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints

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