How To: Simple Wet Palette

I've run across several wet palette how-to's and I wanted to share what I've been using lately.  This version comes straight from Matheiu Fontaine's Adepticon class and it is cheap, simple and effective and works just as well in a hotel conference room in Chicago as it does in the dry air of my little room down here in Texas.

Here's what you need:
  • a plastic plate: not paper obviously, since that will soak up water and paint.  I haven't tried the foam plates, but they looked to porous.  You can get 20 for about $3 at Target or Walmart.
  • paper towels: three select-a-size paper towels was just about the right size for my plate
  • parchment paper: cut to fit just slightly smaller than the paper towels.  Find it in the baking section of your local store near the wax paper and aluminum foil.  One roll will last forever.
The construction is very simple: tear off some paper towels and fold them in half.  Thoroughly drench them with water.

You can see there's plenty of water.  The towels are fully saturated and there are even a new drops running around the plate.

Next: throw down your parchment paper.

Yup, it will curl up like that, because one side of the paper gets wet first and expands.  Either let it sit for a few minutes or flip it over to soak the other side.  You usually just need to spend a minute or two to get it flat and soaked into the water.  If your paper has a strong curl to it from being on a roll, use that to your advantage and place the sheet so that it curls down.  You'll still get curling, but it might be a little quicker to set.

Eventually you'll look like this.  Squeeze the air pockets out the sides of the parchment.  As you can see the parchment is just slightly smaller than the paper towel base.

I recommend, if you can, to always use the same size of paper towels.  The most involved part of this palette is cutting the parchment paper, so I cut out a bunch of rectangles sized to fit my folded paper towels.  When I fill up and get paint all over my parchment, I just grab a new sheet from the stack.

Don't worry about getting too much water in the plate.  You want the towels to be soaked, and a little extra water running around the plate can be handy.  I grab some of the "plate water" for a little extra thinning when I need it.  

I also use the exposed edges of the paper towel to wick away paint if I load up my brush too much, but keep a dry paper towel handy for drying your brush and keeping it from loading up too much thinned paint.

That's about it.  When the towel dries out, just add some more water.  If it gets a little funky from use, chuck it and get a new set of paper towels or even replace the plate.

Links!  We want em!  Send your links for great articles around the web to [email protected]!