Best Watercolor Palette – 10 Specific Need Options (2021)


all my palettes wc best watercolor palette verycreate.com

The best watercolor palette actually depends on how you intend to paint!

My number one recommendation for the best watercolor palette is the Masterson Aqua-Pro because of the many mixing areas and versatility over many different painting techniques. However, your painting style may dictate which palette is the very best choice for your needs!

 

For example, if your painting style is tight and small, like in a typical botanical painting, you may enjoy a small palette with one or two small mixing areas.

botanical painting best watercolor palette verycreate.com
Small watercolors can get by with smaller palettes and small mixing areas

 

If you enjoy big, bold washes you’ll need large mixing areas in a large palette, and you may prefer several sectioned mixing areas to keep colors separate.

large sheet watercolor painting best watercolor palette verycreate.com
Large watercolor paintings require a bigger mixing area palette

Also, a very unique painting technic is pouring ink consistency watercolor paint onto the paper, and small porcelain or plastic bowls will be very useful.

If you are short of time, here’s my shortlist of best watercolor palette:

1.  Masterson Aqua-Pro Watercolor Palette Dick Blick   –Best For Large Mixing Areas

2. Meeden Porcelain Palette 13 x 10 inches  – Best Entry Level Porcelain Palette

3. Falling in Art Airtight Leak-Proof Palette

4. MEEDEN 12 Well Round Porcelain

5. Jack Richeson Tom Lynch Porcelain

6. Jack Richeson Stephen Quiller Palette

7. John Pike Plastic Palette

8. Jack Richeson Porcelain Paint Nesting Dishes

9. Creative Mark Eldajon Palette 6 x 13

10.  GARASANI Folding Paint Trays Box Watercolor Plastic Palettes with 44 Wells

 

 

My Top Recommendations for Best Watercolor Palette

Palettes are personal choices, and my personal priority is multiple, large divided mixing areas with slanted wells.  However, your needs may be different from the way I paint, so I’ve listed the best of the best for each style of watercolor painting and multiple price points as well!

1.  Masterson Aqua-Pro Watercolor Palette Dick Blick   -Best For Large Mixing Areas

This large palette comes the closest to my decades-old favorite palette, which you can see here:

My college palette best watercolor palette verycreate.com
 my ancient and most versatile palette is my best watercolor palette

 

I labeled the paint names on the bottom side of each well, which was helpful when I was learning to paint.

labeled the back best watercolor palette verycreate.com
Labeling your color wells is super useful when you are beginning to learn your watercolors

 

The large lid can also be used as a huge mixing area palette and the side slanted compartments can hold liquid watercolor or be used as small mixing areas as well.  Really well constructed durable resin, this palette should last you for a few generations!  Honestly, there are almost exact duplicates of my favorite old palette out there, but the plastic used is so flimsy and so poorly made that one good twist will tear the palette or snap it, making it useless, so I won’t even recommend them! This one is quality and will last!

  • 32 paint wells
  • Three large separated mixing areas
  • One very large mixing area that doubles as a tight-fitting lid
  • Quality construction
  • Stain-resistant resin
  • Very highly rated by users

My rating: 99%

Masterson Aqua-Pro Watercolor Palette

>Check Price at Dick Blick<<

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2. Meeden Porcelain Palette 13 x 10 inches  – Best Entry Level Porcelain Palette

This budget-priced porcelain palette by Meeden might be the perfect palette for a low price point in the porcelain category!   Slight cool grey color to assist in judging correct color values.  It is quite heavy, coming in at 3.2 lbs, which means that if you prefer to paint on a slightly tilted drafting table surface, this palette won’t move around!

  • 17 paint wells
  • Two divided mixing areas
  • Highly rated by users
  • 3.2 lbs for heavy-weight sturdiness
  • Paint will not bead up on the surface

My rating: 98%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

3. Falling in Art Airtight Leak-Proof Palette  -Best Portable Palette for Watercolor

Check out all the wells and mixing area options with this sweet portable palette by Falling In Air!  12 x 6 inches, this palette will easily slide into a backpack or tote for easy transport.  Even if you don’t take it anywhere, if you enjoy painting small and precise with a small paintbrush, this palette is great. That being said, you should plan on letting the liquid paint dry before closing shut if you want zero inner-mixing of colors within the well areas.

  • 24 slanting wells to keep liquid paint contained
  • Transparent seal ring for safe transport
  • Two removable trays for a quad combo of mixing areas
  • Highly rated by users
  • May be difficult to open once sealed

My rating: 97%

 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

4. MEEDEN 12 Well Round Porcelain – Best for Painting Small

If you don’t need large mixing areas, or perhaps very little mixing areas in the first place, this flower-shaped porcelain palette is a great option.  Weighing in at 1 lb, it won’t move around the table during use as easily as resin or plastic.

  • Medium-weight porcelain
  • Great quality of material
  • 12 small mixing and holding wells
  • 7 inch in diameter
  • Very highly rated by users
  • Paint will not bead or separate in palette
  • Great value for the money!

My rating: 96%

 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

5. Jack Richeson Tom Lynch Porcelain  -Top of the Line Quality

If budget allows, professional artists love porcelain as their palette material of choice for several reasons.  This one is the signature palette of the world-famous artist Tom Lynch.   For decades he was the most sought after art workshop teacher in watercolor and is a master of the medium.  He designed this palette to be his ultimate palette.  Porcelain is glazed and non-porous and as such allows the paint to stay moist longer than plastic or resin.  It is heavy, coming in at 1.4 lbs, which is just heavy enough to keep it from moving around the table top as you paint.  Porcelain also prevents the watercolor from beading up and separating the pigment from the water.  Not completely pure white, they slight grey tint to the palette is designed to assist in correct color value decisions.

  • Corner holes to hold eight brushes
  • 20 Wells for holding liquid watercolor or tube watercolor
  • Porcelain will not cause the watercolors to bead and separate
  • Heavy enough to prevent moving around the table surface
  • Porcelain keeps watercolors moist longer than any other surface
  • High price point
  • 16 x 12 inch mixing area

My rating:  94%  I’m docking it points for the high price

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

6. Jack Richeson Stephen Quiller Palette  – Best for Color Wheel Technique Mixing

Stephen Quiller is an amazing watercolor and gouache painter from Colorado USA who paints in a vibrant, unique style. He has written several wonderful books about color mixing and painting in multiple mediums and he teaches a specific color mixing method that he has developed.  This is the palette he designed for his unique color wheel and mixing technic.  Here’s a link to one of his books on color theory and color mixing.

  • Several varieties of wells
  • One large mixing area
  • Also available in porcelain here

My rating: 92%

 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

7. John Pike Plastic Palette

This sturdy plastic palette is made by injection molding.  It is 10.5 x 15 inches and has one large mixing area.  If you want your watercolors to no bead up, then wash the new palette with a paste of baking soda and rinse well before use!

  • Highly rated by users
  • Large mixing area
  • Deep wells hold lots of liquid paint
  • Only one large mixing area

My rating: 90%

 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

8. Jack Richeson Porcelain Paint Nesting Dishes

These little porcelain dishes are about 2.5 inches in diameter and they stack nicely.  I own this set, but I rarely use them.  As they are porcelain and I’m a clumsy person, one drop on the floor and these are toast.  You could replicate them by cutting small paper cups down to a half-inch depth.  That being said, I feel like an ‘official watercolorist’ when I do use them!  If I were to use a full sized sheet of Arches watercolor paper, and wanted to pour very inky or liquid watercolor onto the paper for a specialized effect, these are ideal!

  • Nice porcelain mixing dishes
  • Easily dropped if you’re not careful
  • Nesting for easy storage
  • Good for pouring and small mixing areas

My rating: 80%  I’ve rated them lower for versatility

 

 

>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

9. Creative Mark Eldajon Palette 6 x 13

This small palette will easily fit into a tote for transport and is stackable, without disturbing colors.

  • 12 slanted wells
  • 3 mixing areas
  • Made of sturdy, stain-proof, high impact styrene plastic
  • Could be great to separate colors into color families in stacked units

My rating: 87%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

10.  GARASANI Folding Paint Trays Box Watercolor Plastic Palettes with 44 Wells

There are many manufacturers of this style of folding palette.  There is a thumb hole for optional holding in your hand, or you can lay the palette flat beside you as you paint.  Just don’t get careless and accidentally put paint in the thumb hole! 11.4  x 9.6  inches opened size, and 11.4 x 4.72 inched folded up.  This is a budget-priced option, but nicely serviceable.

  • 39 small wells
  • Folding for easy storage
  • 5 small mixing areas
  • Budget-priced construction and material

My rating: 75%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

One Final Note:

When I’m teaching, I use coated paper plates!   The reason is, they are cheap and disposable.  Plus I can separate out different color families for students to keep their colors from intermixing and creating mud.  Plus, once dry, just stack them up and rewet once you get home to keep painting. I usually just provide these for free for my first-time workshop students and show them my other palettes so they can be educated about which palette to purchase after the class is over.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

tube watercolor fills wells best watercolor palette verycreate.com
The best watercolor palette has slanted wells which help keep dollops of tube watercolor separate

ProTips

  1. Whatever palette you choose, make sure the wells are sloping.  This will help contain the liquid watercolor and keep them from intermixing inadvertently.
  2. Palettes are relatively inexpensive if you avoid porcelain.  Try several different styles out!  You may find you enjoy using specific palettes when you shift from wet in wet and wet on dry paper, painting large to small etc.
  3. Consider storage space!  My beloved huge palette is a pain to store.  I’m shocked it has lasted all these decades without snapping because it gets moved so often.  I can tell the plastic is aging and will snap one of these days.  Plastic doesn’t decompose easily, but it does lose durability over years of use.
  4. More divided mixing areas will help you keep from mixing muddy colors unintentionally.
  5. I avoid air-tight watercolor palettes unless I’m traveling.  I want my paints to dry out thoroughly between painting sessions to avoid mold growth in the paints….especially if I’m storing the palette in a cupboard or closet where it is dark.
  6. I always wait to clean my mixing areas until I’m ready to begin painting again.  I just might need the exact color that I let dry on the palette!
messy palette watercolor best watercolor palette verycreate.com
Old watercolors can be rewetted after they dry and valuable mixes are great to reuse!

Inspirations

Here are a couple of watercolor books that I love.

A classic by Charles Reid:

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I have long admired Nita Engle’s artwork and her experimental technics pretty much revolutionized modern watercolor:

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

Please also check out my other articles related to watercolor:

Best Watercolor Brushes

Best Watercolor Paint Sets 

Best Watercolor SketchBook for field painting or indoor painting

Best Watercolor Paper for Beginners

and if you want to explore something really different, here’s my review of the Best Watercolor BrushPens Sets

Anita HC

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