Pallet Set Up


When learning to paint in a traditional medium, it becomes quickly apparent that process is everything. For me, my painting process starts even as I lay out my paints on my pallet. I use the same wooden pallet every time I paint. Over years of painting, the paint left over has built up into little piles of hardened color.

If you look at the image above, you can see which colors I use and what order I place them in. I’ve tried to set up my pallet from warm to cool and light to dark. However, as I add colors, I try to find space close to where they need to go, and because they joined the pallet late in the game, they don’t always get to go exactly where they should. The main advantage of having your colors in the same place is that, as you paint more, you get used to knowing exactly where the color you need is located. In time this knowledge and ease of color picking will speed up your paint mixing and the overall time it takes you to finish a painting.

In a future post I’ll examine why I use each of the colors on my pallet. For now here is a list:

Titanium White

Naples Yellow

Cadmium Yellow Light

Yellow Orche

Cadmium Red Light

Alizarin Crimson

Burnt Sienna

Mars Violet (Holbine)


Dioxazine Purple

Greenish Umber (Rembrandt)

Sap Green

Davy’s Gray (Old Holland)

Cerulean Blue


Ultramarine Blue

Payne’s Gray

Ivory Black

Burnt Umber


For the most part, the brand of paint doesn’t matter, especially when you’re first getting started, but where it does matter, I’ve listed the brand in parentheses.


In order to mix my paint I clip a white wax paper pallet to the middle of my pallet. This way I can grab the colors I need and mix the paint. Then at the end of the day, I can scrape the colors that are still good into an air tight pallet, rip of the wax paper sheet, and start with a fresh clean pallet the next time I paint. Sometimes I even use two different wax paper pallets so I can shift back and forth between them, just clipping the one I need to my wooden pallet and setting the other one to the side until I need it again. One of the nice things about working in oil paint is that your colors don’t dry out very quickly so you can use them again and again.

To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project please visit:



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