The paint palette I designed

18May 2011

Continuing with my series of posts about my studio equipment…
Sometime in 2005, when I had decided to take on the study of my new ideas within compositional oil painting, I found that having a dedicated paint table as my all in one palette, brush cleaner, and tool holder was essential to doing what I wanted to.
My grandfather and I threw together a few designs, and finally we found this one (he was an engineer whose speciality was designing machines to solve problems for the creation of  products and meet needs of those working on the products, and he was good).  
To make this we cannibalized and combined several different pieces of furniture together.  I would like to call this type of furniture building “Frankenstein Furniture”
It is made from cut oak, a piece of my great grandmother’s kitchen table, cvc pipe, canning jars, epoxy, braid nails, a piece of a lamp table, and some hardware from home depot.  Then some oil based brush-on paint (which changes from series of works to series of works but I’ll talk about that later on) and some linseed oil rubbed into the top…and we have a good solid palette table for the oil painter.
It is a simple design, at the height that matches my easel chair.  I can reach it with ease while sitting in front of my easel.  As you can see here, it’s not really that tall, standing at 24″ tall.
It has a 3/4 inch-thick Oak top.  I keep my paint colors separated and organized just as the color wheel.  It allows me to mix my oil colors quickly and without mistakes, which leads us to the color of the table itself.  Right now the table is painted black.  I need my mind to be trained toward darks below lights and the kind of depth that cartoons or screen prints have, solid colors of varying grades of color to elude to depth and light source.  Before the repainting of black, the table was neon green because I was working with colors in complement to neon green.  I have had this table painted so many colors its surface is getting pretty thick, but its necessary for me to unconsciously work my oil color.  I believe that the color I surround myself with influences my work, just as the color of my palette table influences my work.

After a session of painting, I clean up the top some and put all my brushes used that day into one of the canning jars.

The canning jars are perfect for this because the top is open, and threaded for the glass.  I used epoxy to get the top rings in place.  Then I used 4 braid nails on the inside lip of each top to secure it further and avoid it from ever popping out of place from use.

The canning jars just twist up into the table and stay there firmly.  There are 6 jars, one for each basic color of the color wheel. (Blue, red, yellow, orange, violet, and green)  Each jar is evenly spaced from one another.
I can remove them and take them up to the house to clean my brushes in the sink.  That very simple feature makes it so I can clean my brushes with ease.  Let’s be honest, we all hate cleaning brushes and having to transport them around is a pain and messy.  Really oil paint is like leprosy, once it’s on one thing its on everything.  So this idea helped me keep my brushes clean.
I have some cvc pipes that I cut up to match my palette knives, scrapers, and other random tools that I use.  Sometimes, when I am working on something complicated and using an extra large amount of brushes at once, I’ll use these for keeping my brushes separate from one another as I am working.  
A small hook for my tube roller.
From these picture you can see that there is paint all over the sides.  After a session of painting, when I have to clean my brushes off, I just start wiping them on stuff.  I just do that, I always have, and I’m not really sure why.  I guess its like marking your territory or something primitive, either way there is paint on everything…its kinda annoying.  
So to stop from ruining my things, I only wipe my brushes on my palette tables or painting chair, or painting couch. (yes, I have a painting couch and it rules.  Seriously ever painted in the comfort of a couch, you should, its like going to a spa with out the smug -opulence and art all in one.)
I wipe them off in a very specific pattern on my palette table, following the color wheel and matching the layout of color on the palette top.  I find it useful to always be surrounded by the color wheel in as many different ways as possible.
When I have finished a set of paintings, normally three works, I will sand the top off, then repaint the rest of it to whatever color I am trying to put into my subconscious to work with.  
Currently I am working on another palette table for Phillip Hoffman.  He has very special needs as an oil painter just as I do, so we designed a palette table for his needs.  I will put up a post about that when we are finished with it.

One Reply to “The paint palette I designed”

  1. Super nifty post! I like that you and your Grandpa designed this together. Does the whole thing spin? Either way, I love this! It's so functional! A painter's dream palette! and I love the screw on paint jars.

    ps I've always thought of painting my palette the same color as the base coat of my painting, it's neat that you actually do that.

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