Sunday, June 12, 2016

Palettes for oil painting

Wooden palettes are the way to go for traditional oil painting. But now days many believe that they are messy and hard to keep clean. I once thought that too but now that I learned how to prepare the wood for painting I have never looked back.

Pros of wooden palettes:
When prepared properly the wood takes on a neutral tone against which all colors look true. Where as when using a plastic white palette on which colors will look darker against the white plastic.
Paint blends beautifully on them
Durability and longevity, many painters use the same palette for years.

The key to using a wooden palette is sealing the wood correctly so that oil doesn't seep into it. When buying a new wooden palette buy a raw untreated one.

1. Apply linseed oil all over it. I repeat this a couple times until the wood begins to have wood furniture like finish. Maybe 2-3 times depending on the wood.

2. Apply a drier/sealer layer. Mix 1/3 linseed oil and 2/3 Copal medium ratio and apply that as the final coat. This seals the wood and prevents it from eating up the oil and solvent while mixing colors.

3. Start painting as usual but at the end of the session wipe away the paint with a rag and a little solvent. This is the most important step as this gradually stains the palette a beautiful neutral color. The neutral color serves a perfect backdrop for color mixing.

I have even heard of some old school painters heating the palettes on the stove to cook the oil into the wood but that's kinda overboard for me.

4. I always wipe my palette clean after each painting session because the paint dries too quickly for reuse. I also travel with my palette and find this most practical. Also the buildup of dry uncleaned paint adds weight to the palette.

With time the palette with get a glossy shine to it and is a joy to work with.

Salvador Dali. Wooden palette

Pierre Bonnard. Fordable wooden palette

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