How to Set Up a Watercolor Palette

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Watercolor artists prepare for painting by setting up a palette. Artists often organize their palette to coincide with the color wheel. Watercolor palettes can be plastic or porcelain. Shapes range from round to rectangular to a flower-like design. The number of paint wells also varies. If you are a beginner, don't let these options overwhelm you. Start with a basic palette and, after you have used it for a while, experiment with other palette choices.

Things You'll Need

  • Watercolor palette
  • Tube watercolor paints
  • Water spritzer
  • Water
  • Watercolor brush
  • Select a round plastic watercolor palette with 10 paint wells and a lid. Set a color wheel next to your palette with yellow at the top.

  • Choose watercolor paints sold in tubes. Select a tube of each of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. For secondary colors, which are a blend of two primary colors, select two different greens, two different violets and two different oranges. Select a burnt sienna to complete the color choices.

  • Use the color wheel as a guide for the placing the three primary colors on the palette. Open the tube of yellow paint and squeeze paint into the top well of the palette, filling it from one-half to three-fourths full. Close the tube. Moving clockwise around the palette, skip two wells and squeeze blue paint into the fourth well. Skip two more wells and squeeze red paint into the seventh well.

  • Place secondary colors on the palette. Examine the two tubes of green paint and determine which one has more yellow than blue coloration. Squeeze this paint into the second well and put the other green paint into the third well. Examine the two tubes of violet paint and decide which has more blue than red in it. Place the blue-violet paint into the fifth well and squeeze the other violet paint into the sixth well. Examine the two tubes of orange paint to see which one has more red than yellow color in it. Squeeze the red-orange color into the eighth well and the other orange color into the ninth well.

  • Squeeze the burnt sienna paint into the tenth well. Brownish colors such as this are a mix of the three primary colors, so you might not see it on a simple color wheel. It is a useful color to have on the palette, though. Label the paint wells with their color names on the side rim of the palette.

  • Spritz the paints with water. Use a brush to mix the water with the paint in each well, cleaning your brush with clean water between colors. Start with just one or two squirts of water, as you don't want to thin the paint too much. Work for a consistency that is creamy. You can always dilute it more as you paint. Your palette is now ready. When not in use, secure the lid to the palette.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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