Last week I talked a bit about palettes in general, plus the best ones for oils.  This week we are going to take a look at what’s the best type for water based media.  You might think that acrylics, gouache and water colours would all have the same requirements, however due to the nature of the different mediums, this is not the case. Let’s take a look at water colours and gouache first.  These mediums both have similar properties, in that they can both be reused after having dried out.

The main difference between them is that water colour is a more transparent medium than gouache. Gouache paint is  modified to make it an opaque painting medium (non-transparent). A binding agent, usually gum arabic, is present, just as in watercolor. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.(1)


Below is a picture showing a traditional type of water colour palette, which is generally used for either water colours or gouache paint. This one however is a little small for the more serious painter and doesn’t have a lid to contain mess during transport.

Gouache or Water Colour Palette



A better type of palette is like the one shown below which has a separate lid, side wells for paint and then a central area for paint mixing. The beauty of this is that there are several wells to keep a large range of colours on the go at once.  Also you can just re-wet them in the next session and you are good to go.

Water Colour, Acrylic or Gouache Palette


Water Colour, Acrylic or Gouache Palette


Now you can use the above type of palette for acrylics however I came across a much better one recently. Below is a video of how it works.


If you have come across any other whizz bang palette ideas I would love to hear them if you want to share.

This Week’s Question: What is currently your favourite palette  and might you up grade to something more user friendly?








1. Marjorie B. Cohn, Wash and Gouache, Fogg Museum, 1977.


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