What To Look For In An Artist's Palette
I do not believe there is such a thing as the perfect palette for all artists. The palette you choose will depend on many different things, like - your medium first and foremost, your style, your skill level and where you paint.
When deciding which kind of palette to use, you might consider the following thoughts:
Sustainability - I believe this is really important in choosing our art materials and tools. And of course there is often a pay off between things like durability, recycling and efficiency. So for example this may impact something that might otherwise be a first choice, because it's not very environmentally sustainable. A case in point would perhaps be disposable palettes. These are certainly much easier to use if you are attending classes or perhaps working plein air, but they can be wasteful and they're not recyclable.
Portability - Are you going to be painting plein air, or will you be staying in the studio? What is practical for each scenario?
Cost - What is your budget? The price of an artist palette can vary significantly depending on the quality.
Quality - Of course quality is usually determined by cost. However this can be circumvented in some cases by making your own. I had a friend who made palettes to his own design out of untreated Marine Plywood. Is it made well? You will find that generally a cheap palette can be flimsy, difficult to clean and will not last very long.
Shape - There are many different shapes for artist palettes, although most people tend to think of the more traditional shape.
Is it comfortable to use? Generally, you have two options - a traditional handheld palette or a rectangular tabletop palette. Although these days as with so many thing there always seems to be someone out there with something new to offer.
ColoUr - I personally enjoy painting on a toned surface (neutral gray). The benefit of this is that you can clearly see your darks and lights. On a white surface, it can be difficult to judge the values as white is at such an extreme end of the value range. Having said that, currently however, my palette is a piece of white melamine. Although as you can see below, it is hardly white any longer.
If you are an acrylic or watercolour painter, I would like to introduce you to the Army Painter, Wet Palette. This 56 piece set includes 50 sheets of a Proprietary hydrophone material. The palette itself is the signed in 3 pieces. The hard plastic bottom, middle layer and top. These pieces are all treated with a protective anti mould agent to keep your pants and water fresh in the tray.
If you follow the link from the picture above there is a video showing you how this palette works, also an option to buy it. ( I do not receive an affiliate commission for this)
Disposable / Paper Palettes
I am a huge fan of disposable palettes for the ease of clean up. Once you have finished a painting session, you can simply tear off the page and dispose of it. If you have any leftover paint, then you can transfer it to the next sheet. The downside of disposable palettes is that the surface is not completely flat (which is an issue when using a palette knife) and it does not feel as satisfying when mixing paint. Recommended - New Wave Grey Pad
Traditional Wooden Palettes
A traditional wooden palette in one hand and brushes in the other is the classic image of an artist. If you want to paint like the old masters and have no issue with holding the palette whilst you paint, then a traditional wooden palette might be for you.