What is a ‘Stay Wet’ Palette?

A ‘Stay Wet’ palette is something that is used with acrylic paints to keep the paints moist. Acrylics are extremely fast-drying which means they can dry and stick onto a palette.  You often end up scrapping off the acrylic paint from a palette and wasting excess paint.

Acrylic paint used on a plastic palette is very difficult to remove once dry!
Acrylic paint used on a plastic palette is very difficult to remove once dry!

One way to save this waste of paint is to buy or make a ‘Stay-Wet’ palette.  It works by having an absorbent sheet of paper (usually blotting paper) which you wet with water to make moist and a non-porous paper on top (a bit like a greaseproof paper) that the paints are placed on.  The palette also has a lid  so you can close it to keep the paints moist overnight and between sittings.

The Stay Wet Palette
The Stay Wet Palette

You can make your own homemade ‘Stay-Wet’ palette using a plastic tray, blotting paper (or I have seen sponge being used instead) with greaseproof paper on top.  I plan to write a post on how to make a Stay-Wet palette in the future.

If you don’t want to buy the palette, you could buy some ‘Tear Off Stay-Wet Palettes’ which come in sheets.   They look much like a sketchpad and last a while, the sheets have a non-porous surface that that acrylic paint can sit on and not sink into.  These tear off palettes will keep your acrylic paints moist for a long time

'Stay Wet' Tear Off Palette
‘Stay Wet’ Tear Off Palettes

If acrylics are your thing then I would recommend getting the Stay-Wet palette with the lid, they aren’t that expensive and are worth it.

Also see Which Palette for Which Paint? and What are Acrylics? for more advice.

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Why Less is More When it Comes to Materials

I wanted to write this post because I see so many beginners fall into the trap of buying too many materials at first.  When the term starts I usually get several learners who ask what do they need to buy, this is understandable because you want to be ready for the course with all the right materials.  I have some important advice for you that I think makes sense, so read this before you start spending!

Don’t Panic

Many learners do get very anxious about materials and worry about getting the exact shade of paint or a certain brand.  Some of this happens because an art tutor has given out a list of very specific materials.  I don’t agree with this idea because when you get a list that is so exacting it is usually the brands, tints and colours that your tutor uses.  You maybe different!

I never follow lists like this to the letter and as a tutor I don’t give out materials lists like this.  The truth is there are a few options, treat a materials list as a general guide.

Buy As You Go

Often you don’t have to get all the materials at once.  On my courses I advise my learners to buy the materials after I have done the ‘acrylic talk’ or the ‘oils talk’ because I am able to advise and save them costly purchases.

I know how easy it is to get carried away in art shops and want to buy everything, but try to hold off, when you are more knowledgeable you will make better purchases.

Don't get distracted by the less than essential materials
Don’t get distracted by the less than essential materials

Spend on The Basics 

Starting art is a bit like building a wardrobe you want to get the basic pieces first before you get into the fancy things.  So forget the varnishes, mediums, gloss finishes, gold leaf and the other ‘fancy’ items.  Spend wisely on the basics and by the basics I mean pencils, a good sketchpad, a soft eraser and a plastic folder for storage.   I have written a post on what I consider the essentials for the beginner see What are the Essential Materials for Beginners?

Spend on the basics
Spend on the basics

Only Buy the Primary Colours in Paints 

When you start painting you should be learning how to mix colours so you only need to buy the primary colours.  The primaries are red, blue and yellow and a white.  I don’t like to use black in painting because you can make dark colours with the primaries.  You will learn much more if you don’t buy all the colours but mix your own and it will save your pennies too.

Learning to mix colours is an important part of painting
Learning to mix colours is an important part of painting

Also see my posts on colour mixing if you would like to learn more about colours How Can I Learn about Colour?