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Why a porcelain watercolor palette is better

When it comes to palettes for watercolors, I prefer a porcelain watercolor palette. But a caveat. I don’t paint when I travel.

When I travel, I take a sketchpad with me. I sketch only. A porcelain watercolor palette won’t be ideal for travel purposes. If you got my luck, you’d get an angry baggage handler who will throw your suitcase as far as he possibly can and crunch! So much for that gorgeous piece of porcelain.

However, it rules for at home use.

I won’t get into plastic watercolor palettes because for one, you shouldn’t be using them unless you’re so broke you have to beg to eat. Seriously. They’re garbage. They bead something terrible and after a lot of use, they stain. At worst, plastic watercolor palettes should be a last resort.

So, in reality, we’re really talking about a porcelain watercolor palette vs a metal watercolor palette. But I’m not about to get into a squabbling match with metal watercolor palette lovers. I think both camps can agree to just thumb our noses up to those plastic palette people and be done with it. Rather, I’ll just argue why you should get yourself a real nice porcelain (also called ceramic) one.

Colors are exactly as they should be

Why do we paint in the first place? It’s because we have something to convey. And when it comes to watercolors, you want to get the most out of your colors.

For this, a porcelain watercolor palette rules over all else.

You pour some paint from your tubes into the palette and they paint exactly how you want them to paint. The next day, they’ve dried and you simply re-wet them. No extra steps are needed. They will perform the same way the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.

Cleanup is easy

Porcelain doesn’t stain. When you clean it up, it looks brand new. After you’ve painted over a hundred paintings, it still looks brand new.

You can even clean it by putting it in the dishwasher. Yes, I’m quite serious. I’ll wash it though under the heavy cycle since I’m not into eating my watercolors and I’m washing it with other dishes. It’s just like a ceramic dish. You know why? Because it is!

Porcelain mixes perfectly

You’ll find that plastic beads something terrible. For mixing, porcelain is where it’s at.

Sure, I’ve heard you can “treat the plastic.” I don’t want to treat the plastic. That’s one more extra thing I have to do. I’m too lazy to stretch my watercolor paper. Do you think I want to treat some cheap plastic palette?

You don’t lose anything when you mix with porcelain. You get exactly what you get. And when the paints dry, all you need to do is re-wet them.

So easy. After all, we want simple. We want our tools to behave exactly as they’re supposed to behave because the artist is supposed to do the thinking, not the tools. They’re supposed to do their jobs.

porcelain watercolor palette
Working on a Selkie painting

Above you see the next morning. The paints dried from the night before. All I have to do is re-wet the paints and I’m ready to get back to work.

If I remember correctly, that palette went through the dishwasher a few nights before. Look how brand new it looks. That’s after literally over a hundred paintings and it still looks brand new.

I’ll have that thing until I either lose it or one of my students drops it (I only drop my phone, never my watercolor equipment). And you know what? It will still look brand new after it goes through the dishwasher.

The above palette is the one I used to get Roxy’s hair for a previous painting. (She’s my brunette model).

(Also about that image, you probably don’t want to share two colors you don’t want to mix in the same well like I do. But I live dangerously!)

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