Ocean Planet Art of Reyhana

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Disposable Paletts

Posted by Rehana Farooqi on February 19, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Do Not Use Disposable Paletts!!!

Being an environmental artist that I am, I'm always concerned about the environment. I'm always searching for the best possible products I can find/use for my oil painting that is eco-friendly, or safe for the environment. I'm as careful as can be about what I'm using, the paints I choose, is it safe for myself and the world around me. My statement is about paletts. A palett is the surface an artist uses to place their paints on and mix the colors before applying to the canvas.

 As a member of PIL(Paintings i love) I recently posted a question (I call a survey)titled, "What type of palett do you use?" I wanted to find out what kind of paletts, or what do artists use as a palett for painting. Do they use disposable or do they use something re-usable. Disposable can be styrofoam plates, magazine pages, wax paper, freezer paper, plastic (cling/suran)wrap, or even pads of paper paletts found in any art supply store-which are a little expensive I think. Re-usable, which I use, are usually wooden, plastic, clear acrylic/plexiglass, glass, or rendered (safety glass)glass paletts which are also found in all art supply stores, or can be made yourself by found objects which is a great way to recycle. You can even have something custom made which can cost you less from a hardware store. To buy a palett ready made from an art supply store is good even though it is more expensive-if you don't mind the cost.

So far I've had about 11 artists answer the question on my online survey. I was surprised to discover that 7 out of 11 people use something disposable. This upsets me. The world has changed. Artists have changed.  In the old days, there were no disposable paletts. Paletts were made of wood, and some artists still prefer to use them today. They can be hard to clean with stuck-on paint on them unless you treat the wood with linseed oil which is what is supposed to be done prior to use. That makes it more of a "non-stick" surface. These days, people are more concerned about "convenience" than the environment. It doesn't come to their mind that disposable paletts are not eco-friendly. It causes more trash into the world around them which is very harmful for the earth we live on. I strongly suggest not to use anything disposable. I understand the convenience of not wanting to go through the trouble of scraping the big mess on your palett after each painting session. It can be a drag, especially if you haven't painted for a few days and the paint has dried and hardened itself to your palett, which can be hard to get off.  Especially oil paint. (Acrylic is a little easier) However, there is one excellent alternative.  The very few artists left who answered my survey are painting on glass paletts. They say it is a breeze to clean. With a little of my own research, I found that they are right and I think they are doing the best thing. The surface is extremely smooth and paint just wipes clean. With stuck on paint or dried paint, it can easily be scraped off with with a blade. I try to use one not sharp enough to scratch the glass. There are 3 types of glass paletts. 2 types really. One of them is not glass at all. It is "plexiglass" which is really clear acrylic or clear plastic. It is lighter than glass which yes, is made to be held when standing at the canvas. I used to use it but it was really hard to clean dried paint.  Then I tried the new plastic paletts by Mijello brand which are peel-off kind. Acrylics when dry, peel or scratch right off. I have tried it myself with oils and even dried oils peel off just like acrylics. Wet paint can easily be wiped off in seconds. Dried paint a little longer. These new paletts come in either white or a neutral gray color. One type comes with a sealable cover so you can store your paint to keep it from drying out. They are very light-weight paletts and comfortable/easy to hold. They really don't take long to clean. I have the XL white colored oval one with a thumbhole. They are to me, the next best thing to glass paletts. The two types of glass is real glass and "rendered," or "safety-glass." Real glass is ok. It works well, is very smooth since that's the nature of glass. It does clean very easy. The only problem is if you drop it. It is very hazardous. Real glass or regular glass shatters into a thousand pieces. The best type of palett, and the one I have switched to as most artists do, is "rendered," or "safety glass." Safety glass is the best!!! It is very smooth, a breeze to clean-even stuck on, dried oil paint (acrylics will just peel off) and the wonderful thing is, if you drop it, it will not shatter like real glass. Safety glass is specially made that if broken, it only breaks within itself. You won't have bits and pieces of glass all over your studio. I have made a switch to a rendered or safety glass palett. They can be bought in any art supply store which is expensive, or you can go to a hardware store that will cut the glass for you in the size you desire. They can sand the edges down to a smooth finish, and if you want, they may even cut a hole in it for your thumb. I heard that hardware stores sell safety glass really cheap. The cheapest way is simply recycling-which I just did and will  tell you what I started using in a minute. I've heard some artists go to junk-yards and find the safety glass from old car windows. Some get them from the windows of an old stove or oven. I had a microwave that broke down and I kept the round turntable from the inside. It is rendered glass that is especially made to take high temperatures of heat. The glass is very thick, heavy and harder to break. I love it because it is huge! (Larger microwaves have large ones.) It is 12 X 16 inches. I love the round shape because I place all my paint colors along the sides of the circle and use the center space for mixing. It works wonderfully. The surface is extremely smooth and really is so easy to clean! Wet paint cleans in a snap! Only a few seconds. Dried paint takes about less than 5 minutes!

Overall, Safety-glass paletts are environmentally and conveniently the best. Glass is a bit on the heavy side of course, which is really meant to be placed on a table and not held but if it is easier than who cares, right?  If you can find a piece of rendered glass from a junk-yard, thrift store, around the house, etc., it is also the cheapest. So to all artists I say, please, stop using disposable and switch to safety glass. I guarentee you will love it! I mean, c'mon, anyone can spend less than 5 minutes a day cleaning a palett. It's like washing dishes-which even that can take longer. This is just one palett. And you will feel better about not trashing the earth. I wish art supply companies never started selling disposable pads of palett sheets.  Another bad thing about disposable is that you can think how many times you have to go and buy the sheets of paletts, or styrofoam plates, what ever. It costs you more once you add it up. You keep spending on paletts. Reusable, you only buy one time (like a life envestment) and is always there for you. You never run out. Which one is cheaper in the long run?

Doesn't anyone out there care for our blue planet anymore?

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