I received a new palette for Christmas. A good watercolor palette will last a long time; however, mine had seen many years of good painting, had a few cracks in important places, and needed to be retired.
For those of you new to watercolor painting, I thought you might appreciate this entry on how to prepare your palette.
One aspect of watercolor painting that I appreciate is the fact that a watercolor palette can be prepared one time and not have to be cleaned after each use. One can simply add more paint when the wells get low and mist with water to moisten the paint. I like a large covered plastic palette; mine is 14" x 18."
One important step that many new artists don't know about is preparing the mixing area (including the top mixing area if your palette is a covered one). The shiny finish on the plastic will make the paint "bead up" and it will be very difficult to mix colors. To prevent this "beading up", take a kitchen pot scrubber and scratch the mixing area until the surface is no longer shiny. Wipe off the "dust" with a damp paper towel. It is not necessary to scratch the paint wells, only the mixing area. This will make mixing colors and preparing washes much easier.
Once the surface is prepared, use a permanent marker to write the names of the paints under the wells. If you are new to painting, it may be difficult at first to recognize the colors and many colors look similar when in the wells. You will never have to guess which color is which and you will be able to the replenish the colors more easily.
Place the paint in the wells and let the palette dry before covering. If a palette is covered before it is dry, it will sour and mold. In addition to an awful smell, you will not be able to use the paint. The paint will have to be completely removed; the palette cleaned and set up again from scratch.
A new palette prepared in this way with bring you many happy years of watercolor painting!