One of the biggest things I ever did to improve my painting was to start using a wet palette Not only does a wet palette keep your paints from drying out, which alone is a time and money saver, it keeps the paint wet. That seems obvious of course, I mean it’s called a wet palette after all, but what it does is allow for smoother layers of paint and also makes blending really simple. I never thin out my paint for normal use because of the wet pallet.
Wet Palette Materials
Endorsement aside, making one is really easy. You can find tutorials on a completely DIY wet palette where you use household items (kitchen/bath sponges and parchment paper), and that’s all well and good but from experience I prefer to spend a little for a better quality wet palette. It’s still cheap to do as well.
These are by Masterson and you can even buy a wet palette kit from the same company, which was what I did the first time. The problem for me was the palette you get with the kit, which also includes some of these acrylic sheets and one sponge, is that it’s enormous. The palette size is what you would use for acrylics if you’re painting on canvas, not for miniatures, and it just took up too much space on my paint desk. So, the first thing I did was to buy a smaller container, as you’ll see here. Oh, I ordered the above supplies off Amazon but you may find them at a local art store, though I never had any luck finding these re-fills, just the wet palette kit itself.
I got this container at Jo-Ann Fabrics for a few bucks. I believe it’s intended as a photo container. You can use anything that’s the right size for you but I suggest you get something that has a lid so you can close it when you’re done painting to help keep things moist.
Putting the Wet Palette Together
Once you have your container you just need to cut things to size. The sponge and sheets are huge for this container so I measure it out and cut the sponge to size while it’s dry, far easier to cut of course. I then place the sponge on the sheet as a template and cut the acrylic paper to the same size. These sponges and sheets are so big that I’ll get about 6-8 uses out of one acrylic sheet and around 4 sponges per-sponge. At a cost of $7 for the 30 sheets and $7 for three sponges that works out to 3 cents per-sheet application and 14 cents per-sponge application, so 17 cents to refill the wet palette each time.
I have used the household sponge method with parchment paper and I can tell you that using the actual supplies above makes a big difference. Parchment paper tends to either retain too much moisture and separates your paints or it dries out completely in a handful of days. This acrylic paper holds moisture perfectly. The sponge is also designed for maximum surface moisture and will keep that paper moist for weeks on end. Again, for as cheap as this works out to it’s well worth picking these up.
Once things are cut you need to get them wet. The acrylic sheet needs to soak in hot water for 10 minutes to activate. What I do is place the sheet on the bottom of the container and put the sponge on top of it. I then put in the hot water, I just use the facet, and then close the lid. The sponge keeps the sheet at the bottom and fully submerged.
Speaking of, the paper will eventually dry out. How quickly it dries out will depend on how often you paint and whether you remember to close the lid on your container. I probably reactivate the paper every few weeks, same with the sponge. When the paper dries out you just soak it in hot water again for 10 minutes and it’s as good as new. It’s multiple use, same with the sponge.
Once the paper is activated you remove the sponge and paper and pour out the excess water. I then soak the sponge in cold water and ring it out. I soak it again in cold water but don’t ring it out this time and let the excess water drain off it naturally. Put the sponge in the container, paper on that and wipe off excess water from the paper. Now it’s ready to use.