how to make great artists’ palettes

WARNING! Artists’ materials are very dangerous and can cause
injury or death! Use in a well-ventilated area, read all warning labels, and keep out of
reach of children! Use at your own risk! I want to explain to you about how to make some really great artists’ palettes. The first step is to get some glass and have it cut — and I would go to a glass shop where you get window glass cut — and just have them cut it to whatever size you need. If you have a refrigerator, which I do, then measure it, and cut your glass so that it will fit inside your fridge
and be as big as possible. So, it depends on how big your fridge is. But my glass is cut just exactly
the size of my refrigerator, so I can just slide them right in, and keep them cold when I’m not using them. My palette is 24 inches by 14 inches. And that’s to fit my fridge. The other thing I do is, when you get them cut, have them grind the edges, so that they’re not sharp. But, in addition, I like to paint the bottom of mine the same color as this stain on this canvas, so that if I put the stain—paint on the back of this glass and hold it up here next to my canvas, it should be exactly the same color, or close to it. So, what I’m going to do is just stain the glass the same way that I stain my canvas, more or less. I’ll probably have to put it on a little thicker. Let me just show you how to do that. We’ll take some quick-drying white and some burnt umber — and this is just Winsor & Newton Burnt Umber
and Holbein Quick Drying White — and I’m going to actually mix up way more than you need for just one piece of glass, because I’m going to do four palettes at one time. But you do them the same way, whether you do one, or four, or six. OK. So I’ve got all my white paint, and I’m going to add some burnt umber to it just like I do when I make this stain. Now, one thing I could do, if I really wanted to be picky
and try to get this exactly right, is this glass is going to probably add a little bit of blue to the color. So if I want it to match this, I would have to add some orange to this, to counteract the blue. So, if I really wanted to be picky, I could do it, and I’ll show you how to do that in a second. But to start with, I’m just using the
quick drying white and the burnt umber. It takes about even less than a third the amount of burnt umber to white to get the stain the way I want it. As you can see, I’ve got a lot less burnt umber than quick drying white. I’m just going to mix it up and get it close, and then just see whether I need
to add any more burnt umber. What I want to do is, when I test this color, I don’t want to just smear it right on. I could just rub it right on the edge, and smear it, to see if it’s the same color, but I don’t want to do that. I want to look through the glass and make sure that I’m accounting for the fact that the glass is going to
actually darken the color some. So, what I’ll do is just put a little bit here on the edge like this. And this is going to be on the back side. And I’ll just smear it a little bit with another stick. If anything — it looks really close — I’m going to add the slightest bit of orange to it — kind of reddish-orange — to counteract the blue of the glass. The glass is kind of a blue-green, so the opposite of that is sort of reddish-orange, it looks like to me. So, I’m going to get some red, right out of the tube. What I’m going to do is add a little bit of alizarin crimson. This is permanent alizarin crimson. Just a little bit. If you’re unsure, then just add a little bit at a time, so that you don’t over-do it, because then you’ll have to add a lot more stain and everything else to counteract it. I’m just going to guess, and I’ll just put a little bit of red in there. I might have put too much, so I’m going to scoop a little bit and put it on the side. And a little bit of yellow. Less yellow. I really want more of a reddish-orange. That should kill the blue-green of the glass. I’ve got a little bit more red than yellow. Let’s just see how that goes. Now I’ll take some of this red and see how that looks. I say red. Red relative to what we used to have. That’s what we had before, and now we’ve got one that’s a little bit more red. I always want to look through the glass, like that. That looks pretty close. Close enough for me. Now that I’ve got that, what I’m going to do is just take some mineral spirits, and add it to this. I want to start real slow with a little bit of mineral spirits at first, work it in until it’s real nice and smooth, just like you do when you stain your canvas, if you’ve seen that tutorial. Just a small little splash. Very little to start with. Once we get this worked in, then it goes quicker. But at the very beginning, you want to work with just a little splash. It actually makes it much faster, because then you sit there and you’re working and working, trying to get rid of all the lumps of paint. But if you just start with a splash, it goes real easy. What I’m doing is I’m mixing it
until it’s completely smooth. That way, I know there’s no lumps. Now I can go a little bit heavier on the mineral spirits. See how runny that is? I’ve painted this whole thing, and you’re probably going to need to give it two coats. You can do it with one coat, but I would recommend putting two coats on. This should dry overnight, for 24 hours, and then give it another coat. And then, before you use it, let it dry for 48 hours. And paint it all the way to the edges like I’ve done on that corner. Let me show you. Now, if I stand over here and put these next to each other, like so, it should be about the same color. If your palette is the same color as your canvas, it makes it much easier to judge your colors. So, that’s how I make my palettes.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. I didn't do this last time, although I was thinking of it. Such a shame that you were not brought in to paint Kate Middleton, she is beautiful enough to deserve you.

  2. Mark is there an advantage to painting the glass as opposed to having several painted backgrounds that you can attach with bulldog clips as you wish? I'm new to oils but have been experimenting with both burnt and raw umber stains.

    Love the site and videos. Thanks 🙂

  3. @Eoin: I think several backgrounds is not a bad idea, especially if you do different backgrounds for your paintings. That way, you can swap a different color each time you need one and no there is no advantage to painting the glass, apart for the color to always be there.

  4. any one have any idea what kind of window glass to use? they come in different thicknesses…1/8 inch, 3/16. 1/4' and also you can get tempered, shatter resistant…i called the local auto glass folks and a 2 by 1 foot piece of the plain glass sanded edges runs about 15 bucks

  5. Have considered doing a video on how to clean and maintain your brushes? Given how methodical and practical your processes are, I suspect you would have some nice tips and tricks for something as "simple" and mundane as cleaning and maintaining brushes.

  6. I'm using the same Winsor Newton oil colours like you do. The tube looks great lol, but mines are only 37ml

  7. i use a transparent acrylic sheet, and then i can place any color on a paper or canvas under the sheet, and cleaning is so easy ´cause i use water mixable winsor newton oil paint

  8. I use a piece of glass cut to the size of the TV tray it sits on.  I have a tear off canvas sheets that I painted to match the three colours I usually prime my canvas with.  I keep them in a stack under the glass and pull the one I need to the top of the stack.  I find it really helpful when I am using an orange canvas, to get the colours just right! Mark's background is still my favourite for still life and portraits though….

  9. I'm going to give you the best tip ,you know what I use for my my pallet Butcher Glass they come in all sizes sometimes they come with a sticker which you could  take it off with a hair bower shatterproof using the side that has the sticker is the smoooth side I purchased mine and the dollar store

  10. Seems to me that if you just painted a support fro the glass the color you need then all you have to do is change glass and the color is always the same, and you only have to paint the support once. Also, in the video you set that heavy container of mineral spirits on that very thin sheet oglass – not a good idea, which is why some kind of support for the glass is a good way to go.

  11. I use type picoglass frames (
    cost a few Euros and you can enter a carto sheet colored oil as you want
    so it is more easy to change background color

  12. I have replaced acrylic, then wooden palette with the normal piece of glass, my life is much easier now. But I came up with the idea of having a piece of linen canvas on the back of my glass.

  13. Thank you, I have learnt a lot from your videos, but the most valuable lesson You have tough me is to be patient…..never be in a hurry. thanks again

  14. I'm having trouble finding the "correct light bulbs" for my lighting. where do I get it from. I've taken the information from your videos that I have bought from you in the past and sales reps just look at me and says that there isn't such a thing to what I'm looking for. I've been to Lowe's, home depot and numerous lighting stores around here. Been to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, etc… No one seems to know the information. (even though I tell them and show them the information from your videos ). Also,, I can't find the yellow ochre drawing pencils anywhere. Suggestions please. I'm going crazy here by not being able to paint!!!!! I'm from Alabama by the way.

  15. I made a palette as you following your direction and is great. I also saw Michael Lewis video on how to make a palette in which he covers the back of the glass with a clear transparent laminating film and then paint it. His reason is that if you wish to change the color, just pull the film off and replace it with a new one and paint it. What say you.

  16. What about paper pallets? I've been using freezer paper (exactly the same stuff at about 1/10 the price) for years. It's extremely easy to clean up, just unclip the paper from the wood and through it in the trash. And it works like glass when mixing etc.

  17. What is that launage writing at the bottom of this video I have seen it in some of your tutorials? Not seen it before

  18. Awesome so glad I found this video I have such a great piece of glass with the edges already smooth ..thank you! 🙂

  19. I am really impressed with this palette! The video of how the palette is made is very interesting too. I plan to have one of these very soon.

  20. You can use woodprix plans. The best handbooks and very detailed instructions. You can learn much from them and make it yourself.

  21. I love your instructional videos so very thourough. Do you have more in depth tutorials for portraitures and still life

  22. Absolutely wonderful! Just made myself two new glass palettes like you said. The 2 glass pieces I got were just 12 bucks for both and the stain was easy to mix, thanks a lot Mark!😊

  23. How about using an actual refrigerator glass shelf? It will be shatter-proof with soft edges. Any business that refurbishes or scraps old refrigerators will probably have a load of them, possibly even for free if you tell them what you need it for.

  24. I found tempered glass cutting boards at Ollies that are 12×15; the edges are already rounded. They are textured on the bottom and the glass is clear with a greenish tint. When I painted the bottom I added just a titch of red to cancel out too much green. Pretty happy with them. I also stuck protectors on the bottom to raise them off the surface of a table as they're kind of clumsy to pick up, especially when covered with paint. I use a single edge razor blade to scrape off old dried paint, then a paper towel polishes them clean.

  25. You need glass? Go check out your local tip and look for used fridges and freezers. Why? They’re full of tempered glass shelves. Usually FREE! Just picked up 2 massive new palettes. Off the paint the backs now. One white, one mud.

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