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 also keeps the paint wet. That seems obvious of course. 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 palette.
DIY Wet Palette Materials
Making a wet palette is really easy. You can find tutorials on a completely DIY wet palette where you use household items: kitchen/bath sponges & parchment paper. 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.
The acrylic paper and sponges 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 with the pre-made kit was the palette is enormous. The palette size is what you would use for acrylics if you’re painting on canvas, not for miniatures. 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. I never had any luck finding these re-fills at stores, just the wet palette kit itself.
I got this container at Jo-Ann Fabrics for a few bucks. 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.
The sponges and sheets are so big that I’ll get about 6-8 uses out of one acrylic sheet, and around 4 smaller 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.
The Final Step
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.
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.
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.
I have used the household wet palette before. It’s where you use a basic sponge with parchment paper. 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 materials up.