The Best Palettes for Plein Air Painting

What’s the best palette for painters? We asked, and you answered! More than 25 artists share their favorites here (including DIY palettes).

palettes plein air painting
“Love my Soltek Easel and the neutral gray palette that comes with it.” ~Cindy Quayle
daytripper palette by Prolific Painter
“My painting buddy Helen Shideler and I both use the daytripper palette by Prolific Painter. In Canada, we have short daylight hours in winter and cold temperatures. We wanted something light, durable, and quick to set up and tear down while wearing heavy gloves.” ~Dale Cook
Edge Pro Gear paintbox
“Edge Pro Gear paintbox. So fast to set up and the sketchbook is compact and lightweight.” ~ Denise Sutherland
ParallelPalette for artists
“The ParallelPalette is amazing because it puts your palette parallel with your painting. With it, you can see your mixing colors in the same light as your canvas, and you never have to look down. The ergonomics cause less strain on your spine and joints. It also reinforces mixing vertically. I tend to mix more directly on the canvas while using the parallel palette. Also, it’s hands-free! The palette even comes with a lid, so it stores in the freezer easily. The tempered glass palette surface is removable, so it is easy to clean with Denatured Alcohol. It has a ledge to store brushes or medium cups, and also has elastic cord threaded into loops to hold disposable soda caps as medium cups. [When plein air painting] I utilize a 60” white umbrella on a C-Stand (which I tie down with rope and tent stakes), and occasionally attach the black umbrella at eye level if my canvas is backlit to keep blinding sunlight out of my eyes.
” ~Neil Patrick McMillan
DIY artist palettes for painting
“I actually made my own out of treated gator board. The glass was too heavy and I wanted to lighten my load. I use a tubular palette garage to keep my paints moist. Lightweight and not too expensive. The angular plastic slips into a capped tube with clove oil. The clove oil keeps the paint from drying … up to a few months without freezing or submerging in water.” ~ Tamara Keiper
plein air painting tips
“I love clipping a gessoed board adjacent to the substrate I am painting on.” ~ Randall Graham
Sienna pochade box
“I use and love my Sienna pochade box. It fits perfectly on a tripod, is compact, and fits snuggly in my backpack.” ~ Debbie Sweeney
Edgebook Pro Paint book
“I fell in love all over again with the palette within the Edgebook Pro Paint book. It’s a neat lightweight gray design that seats within the box and cleans up like new again with a metal scraper blade (supplied and stows safely beneath the palette). A superb design for plein air painters like me because it feels like you’re carrying nothing extra at all!” ~Jules Mitchell
Soltek easel for plein air painting
“I own many different plein air set ups and my go-to remains the Soltek easel. I often use the gray palette that came with it and/or the Masterson Stay-Wet palette (that I outfitted with a glass palette from New Wave). Almost any type of palette can just rest on the open Soltek. Here is the Masterson Stay Wet palette (below; it has a lid for transport). I simply set it on top of my opened Soltek easel.” ~ Celeste Bergin
A close-up of Celeste Bergin's painting palette
Celeste Bergin’s Masterson Stay Wet palette

“The Masterson Stay Wet palette works great with acrylics. I use the small one with cheap chamois. I dampen the chamois cloth and put a sheet of deli wrap on top. I tuck the sides of the deli wrap in around the chamois. I use a spray misting bottle to keep it damp. I’ve had one going for several months before. A copper penny in the bottom retards mold growth.” ~Debbie Johnson Winbun

En Plein Air Pro watercolor palette
“En Plein Air Pro watercolor palette is perfect for my needs. It has large mixing areas, a lid that flips over to extend your working space, and you can choose where it’s positioned on the easel – I prefer it on the right, instead of directly in front of me.” ~Lisabeth Beiler Curnow
Sienna Pochade box for plein air painting
“Love my Sienna Pochade box. Load it up before I head out to the location. I painted the back of the glass gray for a good neutral pallet.” ~Gary Nix
24-well watercolor palettes from Paul Rubens
“My favorite painting palette is the 24-well watercolor palette from Paul Rubens. I like it because I can fill it with my favorite tube paints and it has double-wide wells so I can use larger 2” brushes. It has two paint trays for mixing and it all folds up nicely in my pack. I like it so much that I made a video about it.”  ~ Samantha Reimer
Edge Pro palettes for artists
“Edge Pro. Light weight. Easy setup and clean up. Cool magnetic shelves and turp container.” ~ Sue Bieber Scherzinger
Camille Przwodek's Paint Saver Palettes
“I use Camille Przwodek’s Paint Saver Palette (for oil paint) both indoor and plein air. Stores in the freezer when not in use and saves on paint!” ~Susan Hunter Guise
Mijello watercolor palettes
“Mijello watercolor palette! Has a rubber gasket seal. I’ve been through several palettes, large and small. I bought this for plein air and liked it so much I use it in the studio as well. I now have three of these, each containing a different set of colors depending on what I want to paint. But this one, I call my Brights, gets the most use currently. Love it!” ~Sandra Pearce
Edge Paintbook for plein air painting
“I love my Edge Paintbook. I use it for everything, even when I need a larger easel. Indoors and outside!” ~Sonia Vasquez
best painting palettes for artists
“I have used this one for eons – really – Hobby Lobby, $9.99 and sometimes goes on sale for $6.99. (I still love my porcelain Steven Quiller and an old John Pike Palette, but this one serves me best, especially for when I teach.” ~Kay Myer
LederEasel for plein air painting
“I like glass. For outdoors I use LederEasel and attach a piece of plexiglass on the brace. For my studio, I love what my husband made me out of pure glass.” ~ Lori Ridgeway
Lori Ridgeway's DIY artist palette
Lori Ridgeway’s DIY artist palette
Jack Richeson folding palettes for artists
“I love this inexpensive plastic Jack Richeson folding palette which I fill with Holbein watercolors. It has deep wells to hold lots of pigment, and I love that it has two flaps and mixing surfaces. It makes it easy to close one flap and clean off one mixing service surface and then close the clean flap to clean the second mixing surface. You can run the mixing surfaces under running water. The smaller, mixing service snaps tight over the filled pans, which keeps them nice and moist. It is so versatile that I use it both for plein air and in the studio in the studio. Using the same palette in all situations makes it very easy for me to reach for the right colors without having to think about new arrangements. I supplement the mixing areas with some large white ceramic plates. This photo shows the version with 18 wells which I like best because its large wells hold a lot of paint and I only wish that someone might make this same design in a metal palette.” ~Marilyn Rose (continued below)
best palettes for artists and plein air painters
“Here is a photo of the same palette with 24 wells…It attracted a lot of interest in the field!” ~Marilyn Rose
Sienna Palette Box for plein air painting
“I love my Sienna Palette Box. This is their smaller one that hooks onto the legs of the tripod. You do need to use a separate panel holder mast with it. It is simple and inexpensive. I love it because it has fold-out side shelves for holding brushes and accessories. It fits in a backpack, and it folds up small enough to fit in my freezer between sessions. It has a shallow profile, yet is deep enough to not squish the paint when it is closed. Some other pochade boxes wouldn’t have enough room to leave the paint in when closed, others have too deep a profile for convenient mixing. This one works best on a round-legged tripod. I use it with the Sienna tripod, which I also love. They are made to work together.” ~Tara Kemp (continued below)
DIY artist palettes for painting
“Here’s the simplest, most lightweight setup I’ve ever taken out for a quick oil sketch. It’s just a piece of corrugated plastic that you can get at a sign shop. I attached a small panel to it and used the perimeter as a vertical mixing area.” ~Tara Kemp


“I use the waxy palette paper. I write the name of my work on it with a Sharpie marker, so when I come back to the painting a few days later, I have the same colors that I mixed. It helps me to match them if needed.” ~Susan Webb

“A pure white dinner plate.” ~Ray McCarthy

“Wax paper on a clipboard.” ~Pietro Maher

“The tray from a microwave.” ~Judith Olivia HeartSong

“I use an 8 x 10 board canvas covered with press and seal (similar to Saran Wrap, but it clings to the surface better). It fits nicely in my box and cleans up quick and easy for the next use.” ~Peggy Mcham

“I’ve used plastic plates a few times when I forgot to pack a palette. Works great in a pinch!” ~Kathleen Wiley

What palette(s) do you use for painting en plein air or in the art studio? Share it with us in the comments below!


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