Those who live in glass houses…

…or use glass palettes.

I get a lot of questions about my homemade palette. I’ve been using this palette for several years and by now it’s pretty beat-up. In fact, I attempted to replace it recently but the replacement’s glass cracked before I could use it.

What is it? It was a glass-framed reproduction that I found at a second-hand shop. I selected this particular example because it fits in the butcher tray that I use to store palettes to keep them fresh. I removed the reproduction and applied a mid-tone to the backing and–voila!–instant palette.

That’s what it is. But why use it? Good question. I used wooded palettes but I never held them as I paint. I prefer holding a maulstick or rag in my left hand. I was always placing the palette on a table or tray next to the easel. So this palette’s large size doesn’t bother me. At 16″ x 22″ it sits comfortably on my small, wheeled, paint cabinet. I can easily move the cabinet to ensure that the palette is always close to hand.

It’s small enough for my cabinet but large enough to hold my extended color selection and still provide an area to mix tones. Not too big; not too small; just right.

If these reasons weren’t enough, I come to perhaps the most important benefit provided by this palette: It’s easy to clean! When I need to scrape off the old paint and reload fresh colors, this palette makes that job easy.

I can use a razor to clean the old paint without worrying about damaging the palette. This is a big deal. My paintings can take a long time, which means some of the paint can remain on the palette for extended periods–up to a week sometimes. If I did this with a wooden palette, it would be a challenge to clean the palette without damaging its surface. I never have to worry about that with this palette.

You can see from the accompanying photo that the yellows and earths are fresh but the other colors are older, some, like the mixed grays, are several days old. I just scrape off what I no longer need and reload. Perfect.

For those who are curious, here are some of my wooden palettes. I used the large one a lot before I created the homemade one. These days I only use the small one on the right, and then just to mix the gray and sienna values that I normally use. When I finish mixing the values I wipe the paint off and coat the surface with linseed oil.

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