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Painting Technique - Working With A Wet Palette
By Flak Magnet

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Introduction Back to Top

One of the most annoying things that can happen during figure painting is to have a perfectly mixed blend of paint on your palette and watch it dry out before you finish painting your figures. Back in April, 2002, a discussion about painting techniques took place on the GZG email list, based on Stuart Murray's excellent paiting techniques workshops that have taken place at the Ground Zero Games East Coast Convention. During the discussion, Flak Magnet posted the following article on a "Wet Palette" technique for avoiding the dry paint problem.   ~Ed.

Wet Palette Back to Top

On the topic of paint drying out due to painting out of an open bottle:

Try using a wet palette. It sounds "ooh... complicated painting stuff" but it isn't. Honest!

Obtain some baking parchment, also known as baking paper/cooking paper/baker's parchment. I found a great big roll of it at a grocery store right next to the waxed paper and aluminum foil. You'll also need paper towels.

Get a shallow, flat-bottomed container and cut a piece of the parchment just large enough to cover most of the bottom of the container. Likewise cut sections of the paper towels, to the approximate same size.

Lay the paper towels down first, and soak them with water You want them as wet as possibly without the water running out when you tilt the container. Then put a single piece of the baking parchment over the wet paper towels. It will want to curl and pull up initially, but after a little flattening it should stay flat. The wet palette is now ready for use.

The way you use it is to pull paint out of your bottle with a brush and put it on the baking parchment, as you would with any other palette. Moisture will leach up through the paper and keep the paint wet without diluting it but the paint should not soak down through the paper. I've had paint last for DAYS on a covered wet palette. You can have several colors on the same wet palette without having multiple bottle open at one time, and this can speed up painting as well as preventing spills.


If the paper towels stick out a little from underneath the wet palette you can moisten the brush by lightly touching it to the paper instead of dunking it in water. You can also add more water by using a dropper and adding it right into the paper towels, no need to take off the wet palette.

If you use a container with a cover (like tupperware, etc) covering it between painting sessions becomes simple. Just add some extra water before you put on the over and keep the container flat to keep the paint and water from running to one side.

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