Thursday, May 15, 2014

How watercolor behaves on metal, porcelain and plastic palettes

I've bought a folding metal palette lately. It is very good palette for me because it's small and has a lot of compartments for paint. But I didn't know that watercolor behaves in such a bad way on metal palette. It's really hard to paint. Washes tend to bead up into little puddles, which is really annoying. So I took a porcelain plate from kitchen and I was shocked when I tried to mix washes on it. It was like a heaven. I regret that I did not do this earlier. Porcelain is REALLY the best surface for watercolors!
I made a short video just to show you how watercolor paint behaves on metal, plastic and porcelain palettes. So here we go:

This is my new metal palette. I'm filling the compartments with Schmincke Horadam and Winsor&Newton paints.

UPDATE: I've noticed that watercolor behaviour on metal palettes also depends on particular metal. I have bought a metal box for 24 half pans (or 12 full pans) and the paint behaves much better on it. But of course there is no better surface than porcelain. Now I'm using my new big porcelain palette with 32 wells. It's big and great. I can also recommend ceramic stackable palettes. I use them very often.

And here is the video:


  1. I had the same exact problems! haha I swapped out all of my metal and palstic palettes and switched over to porcelain about a few months ago because the beading just frustrated me. I also highly recommend enameled butcher trays (under $5) which works just like porcelain in case you wanted a bigger mixing space. Happy painting! :)

    1. Hi Espero and Susanna Lee
      Paint will roll around in little beads if you do not treat the surface of your new metal or plastic palettes before you use them. There's a scientific explanation to do with surface tension. Use a cream cleanser - the same stuff you use to clean the bath! Here in Australia it's called Jif Cream cleanser. I love my butcher's trays but they were sourced from second hand shops and had already had a long life before I found them. ANyhow please try my suggestion on your new palettes and let me know the result. Love your paintings Espero! Gail Shaw

  2. What are the names of all the water colors in this palette shown? There are a few that are speaking my name.