A painters palette has always been a source of mystery and awe to me. When I was in school I found a blog called underpaintings.com (which has since become an online magazine). I spent hours going through posts about color palettes different artists would use. These peeks behind the curtain where magical to me. They influenced how I thought about painting and paint mixing. So, I decided I wanted to share my palette and some of my thoughts on painting and paint mixing.
First, let's talk about what I mean when I refer to a painters palette. A palette, in the original sense of the word, is a rigid, flat surface on which a painter arranges and mixes paint. There are many different forms and materials a palette can take. I use two different kinds. One is a traditional wood palette that I hold. My palettes where hand crafted by The Traditional Palette Co. I have a small 8"x12" hand palette and a larger 12"x20" arm palette.
Another type of palette is more of a desktop version called a taboret. A taboret is a small table with a smooth (in my case glass) top that you mix paints on.
The word palette also refers to a selection of colors that an artist uses in his work. Many artist develop a go-to selection of colors that they throughout their work. My basic palette consists of 13 colors: Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Indian yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo or Ultramarine Blue, Sap Green, Viridian Green, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Titanium White, Unbleached Titanium White, and Ivory Black. Depending on the need I will switch up my Titanium White for Permalba White, or Zinc White. You can check out a cool color guide here.
As far as type of paint and brand, I currently use a mix of brands that produce high quality artist's oils. I use colors from M. Graham & Co, Winsor & Newton Artist's line, and Professional Raphael Oil Colors.
Along with the actual paint I use some basic mediums. Painting mediums offer a great deal of help in extending oil colors. Mediums change the working properties of oil color from the tube. They help thin and thicken oil paints, as well as change the drying times of the oil.
There are many, many, different types of mediums. I stick to 4 basic ones: Refined Linseed Oil (or Walnut oil), Turpenoid, Liquin, and a Walnut/Alkyd Medium from M. Graham. I will mix these into my paint to thin the paint and extend the drying time. I also use the linseed or walnut oil as a medium for glazing when I am putting finishing touches on a painting.
Those are the basics of my palette and some of the materials I use. One of the things I love about oil painting is the constant experimentation. The colors you mix are never exactly the same, no matter how many times you have mixed them before. That is what makes painting so enjoyable, each piece is unique.