How Much Paint to Put on Your Palette

Question from a reader:

How much paint should I put on my palette? I always seem to run out but I also don’t want to waste paint.

My thoughts:

Start with a generous amount of paint on your palette. Consider any excess a cost of the creative process.

Of course, be smart about it. If you’re painting a subject with mostly blues, then use more blue and less red on your palette. If it’s a light painting, then use more white. If the subject doesn’t require cadmium orange, then don’t put it on your palette. Be flexible, but liberal.

Trying to guess the exact amount of paint you will need is counterproductive. You may save some paint, but running out of it will frustrate the painting process. Worse yet, it may tempt you to compromise with other colors. For example, perhaps you run out of cadmium yellow on your palette. Instead of squeezing out more, you use the yellow ochre which is already there. It’s close enough, right? But small compromises like this add up to significant mistakes.

If funds are tight, complement your painting with drawing on the side. Drawing will improve your painting skills and is much more affordable to practice.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott