The Timeless Wooden Palette

@dan_scape via Unsplash

The earliest known appearances of the wooden palette date back to the 15th century. The design of the palette also has kept its original shape, for the most part. This is only a testament to the durability, flexibility and success of this artist tool. In the contemporary art world, we can find a plethora of types of palettes. These come in all kinds of sizes and are made from various materials. This is a good thing, the palette should match the style of the artist. However, we are going to take a look back at this iconic artist tool, see why it has stood the test of time and why you need to have one at your disposal.

The Artist & The Palette Naturally Coexist

Velazquez “Las Meninas” 1656 (Detail) Wikimedia Commons

The design of the wooden palette is quite ingenious. The light weight material lets the artist hold it comfortably with the side of one hand. The palette can easily accompany the artist for lengthy painting sessions without causing any discomfort.

Wood is an easily available material that can be worked to best suit the needs of the artist. The classic palette has an oval shape but this does not always have to be the case. We can see Velazquez working with a classic palette with his colors arranged in an orderly fashion. Vincent Van Gogh painted with a rectangular palette, it had colors all over & two small containers holding medium. The shape & way in which the artist arranges their palette talks a lot about their art, and has an impact on the final result.

“Van Gogh Self Portrait as a Painter” 1887 Gandalf’s Gallery Flickr

Why Use a Wooden Palette as a Contemporary Artist?

No matter the technique, a wooden palette is more than a tool. It can actually be part of a unique experience. It brings the materials closer to the canvas, it can help you reference your colors more easily and paint more rapidly. The palette can bring out great spontaneous moments and keep the momentum alive.

Some practical reasons for a wooden palette could be that it is actually pretty easy to clean, inexpensive, easily replaceable, customizable & timeless.

As previously mentioned, the materials should cater to the needs of the artist. However, the artist should be open to experiment. The wooden palette has the flexibility of being adaptable to both of these cases. This is not to say that it should be your only palette, but something to surely consider.

With technological and theoretical advancements, we have developed all kinds of palettes and surfaces to paint on. The wooden palette might not be the best options objectively for every artist, but at the same time, its a must have experience. At least every once in a while, you can pick up your wooden palette and have a still life painting session, or a plein-air painting session. Just remember to open up to different styles and techniques to better your technique and continuously learn. Enjoy the process!




Montreal based since 1985, we provide businesses with high quality art supplies. Take a look through our blog to learn more about art materials, history & more!

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Montreal based since 1985, we provide businesses with high quality art supplies. Take a look through our blog to learn more about art materials, history & more!

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