Monday, February 21, 2011

Setting up a new watercolor palette

QUESTION: Susie, I have read your tips on setting out the watercolors in my brand new palette. I will follow the ideas of using the colorwheel to fill the wells (84) with empty wells in between to fill as new colors are added. Do I add glycerin and water to the colors as I put them in the palette wells? Do I empty the colors straight from the tubes into the palette? The palette has a cover, so that will help to keep the colors dust-free. Thank you for your help. I look forward to your advice. JHY

Susie's Reply:
Thanks for writing! Before you squeeze out any paint check the tube to see if the paint has settled and separated. The binder in watercolors is gum arabic and it is clear gooey stuff that sometimes rises to the top of the tube if the tube has been setting for a while. You may need to kneed the tube or turn the tube upside down for 24 hours to let the pigments re-mingle with the binder.
When setting up the new palette squeeze the paint directly from the tube into the wells. You do not need to add anything to the paint. Some colors will be wetter than other colors naturally.
I have better luck when I fill the well about half full then stir the paint with a toothpick to evenly distribute it and make sure all the tiny air bubbles pop and the gum arabic is mixed in well. Allow it to dry then add more paint to fill the well. Stir to mix and level off the paint in each well. Leave the cover off to speed up the drying time. Dry it completely before using it if you have time.
When you are ready to paint, simply dampen the colors with your brush as you use them. Some colors will reconstitute easier than others.
DON’T spritz the whole palette with water to prepare your paint for painting. That will break them down and make the paint crumble.

84 wells will hold a lot of paint choices. Have fun!


PS. I forgot to add if your watercolor paint is a brand that contains honey it will not dry in the palette wells, it will always remain tacky and gooey. That type of paint is formulated to remain damp so it will not work for this suggested setup.