What is a Wet Palette?
Simply put, a wet palette is just a bit of kit used to mix paints, and keep them workable for longer.
All a wet palette really is a small plastic container, usually with a spongy layer to absorb water, and some semi-permeable paper that sits on top of the spongy layer that because of being in contact with the wet spongy layer.
All you have to do is wet the sponge, add a clean sheet of the paper you’re using, and add some paint to it.
Why do I need one?
Short answer is you don’t. However, if you paint slowly (like me), or you only paint in short bursts (also like me), then you might find one useful.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you sometimes find that your paint starts drying on your palette whilst you’re painting?
Do you find that you have a lot of paint left over at the end of a painting session that you then have to dispose of and waste?
Do you have problems where matching a previous mix is difficult because it dried between painting sessions?
If you answer yes to these questions, then potentially a wet palette could be useful to you.
I can literally mix up some paint, use the paint for an hour or two, stop painting and come back a day later and I can still paint with it. It cuts down on waste, and also helps stop the paint drying to fast on my brush.
The only thing I find with mine is that it can separate and get a little watery if I leave it for a couple of days, but a quick mix with a brush usually sorts it out.
What wet palette do I use?
This is mine:
As you can see, I don’t actually cut squares of baking parchment out – I just tear off a bit and slap it down. I prefer doing it this way as when I’m finished with the paint completely, I can remove the small bit of paper, throwing it away giving me more space for my next colours, without having to chuck away any colours I might still be working on.
Where did I buy mine?
I actually made mine myself from a cheap plastic sandwich container, a kind of absorbent cleaning sponge, and small squares of baking parchment. Ours is quite an expensive hobby, and I feel that often we’re taken advantage of by companies offering a specific piece of kit to do a job that could be done just as well with a bit of thought.
The components for my wet palette were all picked up during a weekly shop from Adsa, and was really cheap to put together. The advantage of the use of baking parchment is that it’s really cheap, and you get a massive roll that lasts for ages. The sponge is an odd thing as it’s extremely thin and more of a cloth than a sponge. This had to be trimmed to size, but does the job brilliantly. A photo below is what I used:
I don’t change this very often, but periodically I’ll swap it out and disinfect it so that I can re-use it again without fear of any bacteria growing on it and making me ill (I’m a bit of a brush licker!).
Where can you buy one if you don’t want to make one yourself?
If you want to buy one rather than make your own, there are a number of places I’ve seen that sell wet palettes, but they’re easy enough to find on Amazon and probably local art and craft supply stores. I’m not going to provide any links or examples, as I haven’t tried any so can’t recommend specific products.
Personally, I don’t see the point of buying one as I can’t see what benefit paying £10-15 for a plastic tub has over buying one for £1 and then buying some sponge cloths for £1. The baking parchment over wet palette paper is an even bigger saving.
Personally, I feel that having a wet palette has really moved me on as a painter. When I was into the hobby when I was a young teenager, I always painted directly from the pot. This meant I didn’t mix colours, I didn’t water the colours down, and basically led to quite basic paintjobs.
On my return to the hobby, I really wanted to push myself to become a reasonable painter, and the use of wet palette have really helped me concentrate more on actually painting models over mechanical things such as keeping paint mixes wet, watering down the paints to an appropriate consistency and mixing colours.
Although I’m hardly reaping the benefits yet (as I’m only a handful of models in), I already feel like it’s helping me head in the direction I want to go in.
If you’re interested in giving it a try and seeing if it helps you, I’d say go for it!