What Are the Best Palettes For Acrylics


Now in this post let’s talk about the best type of paint palette. You might wonder why I’m going into depth with something like this, after all a palette is a very simple straightforward object that could be made out of almost anything you can squirt paint into,right? Not as essential as let’s say, selecting a good set of brushes. Well, the truth is, choosing a good palette can make a difference.

It should be made of something that doesn’t absorb paint readily, it should also have adequate space for spreading and mixing paint, and lastly, it should not be too difficult to clean. Yeah, I know everybody hates that part!

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best paint palettes

Sheet Palettes

When I first started taking painting classes, I was encouraged to get tear-off palettes. Have you seen these? They are actually like paper pads, but in sheets that have a coated surface. They are about 8 x 10 in size and provide adequate space for mixing and testing out paint mixtures. Also, when you have finished for the day, you just tear that sheet off, toss it and you’re done.

Nothing to clean up after. I enjoyed using these so I would definitely recommend them.

Plastic and hard acrylic palettes

Of course, if you’re at some venue like Hobby Lobby you might have run across one of these or many. They sometimes come in the more iconic oval shape like you see in books with the thumb hole on one side, or sometimes they’re rectangular. I do like these to some degree too. They are easy to clean depending on how soon you get to them after a full day of work.

This is a hard plastic or acrylic palette I own…it’s covered with a lid and all, however you notice the compartments are very small. Which is not necessarily a bad thing – it was harder to clean than others. I spent a lot of time attempting and you can see it’s still showing paint residue.

What I do like about them:
Easy to hold and adequate space for mixing paints.

What I don’t like as much: They’re harder to work with on a flat surface, kind of like they are meant to be held in one hand. Not something I’m used to.

What about those perfect circular ones with the big round space in the middle and little compartments all around? I’ve got one, and I come to like that big space in the middle for more prominent colors. I like them, but they are kind of limited on how you can use them in some ways. I think they are best suited for craft painting where you are using a small number of colors and very little mixing.

However since they’re so cheap (Dollar General and similar places always have these) they would be ideal for paint parties.


round palette

A round palette – kind of entry level and basic Better for craft painting…

Mine has a cover on it as you can see. Depending on how long ago you used them, they can be easy to clean. What’s left will usually peel right off if you finished painting let’s say thirty minutes ago. If it’s just residual paint smears, it’s harder to clean off, especially if it’s the next day or longer. Can you tell by looking at mine, it’s not perfectly clean.

In all honesty, I don’t think deep compartments are necessary. They are made better with watercolors which do necessitate more spaces to create washes, which you most likely won’t be doing (at least not often.)

Covered palettes like this one I have here, are great as they allow you to conserve your paint and keep it from drying out.

paint palette with lid

Wood palettes

I don’t use these. I know my hero Bob Ross always had one at least I saw it on his show. (And he worked in oils) I always like the look of real wood tools, but they may be a little harder to clean as wood is kind of porous.The residual paint may stain it.

Stay-wet palette

One thing acrylic artists are a big fan of is the stay-wet palette. It is designed with a sponge insert and sheet on top to keep paint dabs moist during normal use. I have one that I “accidentally” discovered in my closet after thinking at first, it was a storage bin, lol…it used to belong to a friend and then I put it away and got it out later.

As you can see, it’s in a flat container with ample room for paint mixing. You could also make your own version of these too, using simple materials!

stay wet palette

What are some homemade/DIY palette ideas you could use instead?

Sometimes we don’t want to spend extra money or if the mood strikes and as we gather up our materials we might find ourselves short of a few things and needing something else “basic” that will have an alternate, art related function. Hey I am all for recycling or making use of ordinary stuff that we normally toss. And of course saving money, so here are a few ideas if you need them….

Just FYI – Be sure to choose an object that is nonporous. Avoid anything made of paper or cardboard: e.g. paper plates or cardboard egg cartons.

Glass sheets

My college art professor always used a glass sheet when painting. Glass is a great substrate for mixing paint on because it’s so smooth and with a tool like a knife, it’s easily scraped off and distributed where you need it. Plus there’s nothing to scraping paint off of glass to clean it afterward. I wouldn’t so much call these sheets so much as just a piece of glass. In the classes i took, I was using glass palettes too.

The paint would glide on effortlessly. If you have some old picture frames nearby in the common “portrait” size of 8 x 10 or 9 x 12, kudos to you as you are all set. because all you have to do is remove the picture apparatus and pull out (carefully) the sheet of glass on the inside. You don’t have to spend any money – woot!! The only thing I would do is to clean it off with Windex or something similar and line the edges with tape as they may be a little bit sharp.

Egg cartons (the foam kind)

I wouldn’t use these in more professional settings, but let’s face it these do come in handy in a pinch. I collect egg cartons religiously, as I’ve used them as seed starters and to cut up and use as packing peanuts (these puppies have SO many uses, it’s not funny) An empty egg carton already has deep compartments with which to distribute and mix paint and test out other color additives.

Heck I used to fill half of the compartments with water so I’d have everything right there with as little setup stuff necessary.

Styrofoam plates

These too can work well, they lack compartments for different colors, but if you’ve got a few of these laying around why not make use of them.

Serving platter trays

You know those plastic serving trays with different compartments used for veggie or fruit dippers, cheese, etc.? These are a great choice, and you could easily pick one of these up at a place like the Dollar Tree, now that’s smart.I thought of this the other day when I was rearranging stuff under the kitchen cabinet and found a few I’d bought awhile back but didn’t make use of.

Well there you have it…all the paint palette options available to you, which will you choose?



Updated: 05/20/2023 — 4:46 PM

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