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Working on multiple canvases - do you have multiple palettes?

I enjoy doing the Daily Paintings, but along side them I work on some larger pieces that take several days. I am wondering what other artists do, in regards to your actual paint palette or palettes - how many do you have?
I find that sometimes I need to set aside a painting for a few days in order to gain some ‘fresh eyes’. I often rely on my palette to determine all the colours and mixes of colours that I had used on that painting. When I start a new painting, although I often start with the same 7 to 9 tube colours I can create entirely different colour mixes. Sometimes I might have 3 paintings at different stages at once. If I don’t return to a particular painting within a couple of weeks I may forget what the heck the colour mixes contained, unless I have ‘saved’ my palette on palette paper. I have tried writing down (journaling) my painting progression, but you get carried away with painting - you have to run cook dinner - pick up the kids - etc and I forget. Sometimes I put my paints on palette paper, instead of the palette and save the paper, but it seems wasteful of paper. Any feedback or ideas the can help me be more efficient and not have to re-paint whole sections in my ‘new’ latest pile of paint colours?

I found that I was doing the same and at one time i had 2 pallette savers by Masterson for acrylic and one for oil! They were often dried up when I got back to the pieces. (I always forgot to put the oil palette in the freezer too. Did you know you could do that?)

I wasn’t doing large pieces though, nothing serious. I just worked on a few smaller ones simultaneously. I may have been using it as an excuse to stop working on ‘ugly stage’ pieces, or some that I wasn’t sure of the next step or just that I needed fresh eyes.

But I hear you! Life is always calling us away. I am now doing little 2.5 x 3.5 pieces to get loosened up and try new things. I will be watching the post to hear what other people have to say about a solution too.

As well as my online blog, I ‘blog’ in the old fashioned way, ie I keep a handwritten notebook / sketchbook. I don’t use it for every painting, but if there is a particular color or value or combination I’ve been struggling with, or something in particular I want to solve, I make little notes about it as I go. I take a picture of the painting I’m working on; printout a thumbnail version of it and glue it in my notebook and write notes directly on top or at the side. It might seem long-winded but it’s helped me learn and remember. More often than not I don’t ever go back to the notes, because the process of recording in a written form has lodged what I’ve learned firmly in my head, however it’s there if I need it for future reference.
I think there are a few people who use their online blog in a similar way (Karen Margulis comes to mind. She is meticulous about recording every step of her process).
In general, I prefer to use my blog to talk about the finished work and my handwritten notebook to record the nitty-gritty stuff.

Also I always use a paper palette. I keep a fine sharpie handy and sometimes write on the palette the colors I’m using and take a quick photo which I can reference another time.

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Hi Jacqueline, Thanks for the feedback. (it’s weird I was just on your blog about 3 days ago admiring your rose painting and the process and here we are ‘chatting’) I also blog and try to keep something of my process on there. This week I had snapped photos of my palette and each painting’s progress, thinking that would be quicker and easier. I think if I slap those into my journal like you suggested, that will help. The sharpie idea and writing on the paper palette might help me also.

Thank you Sunny. I have had a few palettes in the freezer and that works when I have the space. Sometimes I cover them tightly in plastic wrap to prolong them too. I think like you mentioned, more than one palette is the way to continue. Thanks for the suggestions. Perhaps an invention is in order - if I have a brainstorm I will share it!

So nice to ‘meet’ you on here Tessa! :smiley:

I use two palettes, as I also work on multiple paintings at a time. I take notes on the colors I use to mix background greys which can be hard to replicate for future sittings. I also keep a bit of it in a tiny plastic container.

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If you use the Masterson palette saver or other type air-tight plastic box to save your palette you can keep the oil moist for a really long time with clove oil (I got mine at a health food store) a few drops on a cotton ball or better yet, those small felt pads that go on the bottom of furniture legs. I stuck one on the lid of my plastic box. My paint never dries out.

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I have purchased 3 of them, def Masterson but I find the lids are ill fitting. They don’t seal well. I have 2 red tops and one blue. I will definitely get the clove oil to give that a try!

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I will try the clove oil idea, thanks. Like Sunny, my Masterson palette lid just doesn’t stay on. I have been keeping my eyes open for a flat, ‘tupperware’ style plastic box with a tight fitting lid that is larger than a pizza box.

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I found a flat storage box with an easy snap on lid at JoAnn Fabrics. It had a handle in the lid which made openings but I used generous amounts of Silicone glue to seal it up.

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Thanks Andrea, I will scope out some of our local fabric stores. In Canada - we don’t have JoAnn’s but I bet you the larger fabric stores have similar products, this sounds like what I am looking for

Yes, I am one of those artists who uses the same pallet with a small painting and another painting until the pallet gets too messy. I usually change a pallet between paint jobs and other times in the “middle of the stream” - that is when my pallet was way, too messy enough to challenge my concentration of painting.

Hi, I have the same problem, but have several Masterson Palette Savers with blue lids and use them with disposable paper palettes inside. I rub a little vaseline on both the lid and box edge as they can be difficult to seal, particularly in a cooler studio. I have also found that they do not last forever and need periodic replacing! They will look okay, but not want to seal all the way around as they get harder (?) with age. They seem to last 7 years or so for me.

That’s exactly why I had more than one going at a time…

Then you did way better than I did. My lids didn’t fit within weeks or less I’m sure.

Are they stored in an extra warm place, like where the sun would hit them? That might drive the plasticizer out of the plastic and either make it much stiffer or smaller. The lid on the one I purchased 2 months ago would not go on after I had used it just a few times, but then I put some Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on it and was able to get it on. I still have to use more pressure than the older ones that I still have and use.

No not in a very warm place. I had 2 red lid Mastersons but then bought the blue one that cost a little more but it did the same thing. The tops are all warped. Like in no way would fit even with vaseline. So I don’t know…

I used to try to save colors for specific paintings, but it always ends with wasted paint and a crowded palette. These days, when I’m taking a break from a painting, I’ll put excess colors on the side and clean the rest of my palette, then I almost always use those colors up in the next painting. Either with a modification or as is. I’ve found that I don’t always accurately judge the color the first time so having to mix from scratch actually helps me improve my painting. When I’m not painting I keep my palette in a Masterson box with a cotton ball soaked in clove oil. It isn’t quite as good as putting it in the freezer, but now I don’t have to use up valuable freezer space on my giant palette box. This thought just occurred to me… If you add the little oxygen absorbers that come with everything to the box, it might actually work better than the clove oil at keeping the oils moist since they dry by oxidization… You can bet I’m going to experiment with this just as soon as I find some silica packets.

I have one of those Masterson boxes but I’ve never really used it much
a. because if I’m working in my studio I prefer to use the larger size paper palette (16 x 20) or if working plein air I use the size smaller and
b. I find the paper palette too tricky to get in and out of the box (I don’t like to use it while in the box since I use a palette knife for mixing and find the box edges too restrictive).

If I’m going to be using the same paper oil palette into the next day, a little trick I use is to dip my brush into my linseed oil and touch a drop of oil onto the larger piles of paint that I might use again. This keeps the oil paint workable into the next day.
What I usually end up doing is scraping the little piles of paint onto a brand new paper palette rather than using the old one.
I’m prefer to get paintings completed in a day if I can, but even if I go into two days I prefer to start each day with a clean palette.