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3D Acrylic Painting Techniques Blog

Blog > What is the Thick Painter's Palette?

August 29, 2016 - by Ruth Collis

What is the Thick Painter's Palette?

The thick painter' palette is flat and has no thumb holes so you can mix a huge volume of paint. The palette is not meant to be held since it's heavy which means no wrist strain. Why you add gel for volume is to get paint thick where you can paint all kinds of impasto texture and sculptural fun using many different fun tools for interesting effects. When adding gel mediums to several paint mixes, volume builds up fast and you end up needing a lot of room for these bigger mixes.


Even when using all the paint that you can on the thick painter's palette, the traces left build up rather quickly into a dried skin of paint you can peel off in a short amount of time, if you use a non-stick palette. Five years of regular acrylic paint might equal a month or two of paint with gel medium added, depending on how often you paint. You can peel paintskins off for many other uses in your art.

Tri-Art Palette






Tri-Art has a nice quality palette for the thick painter and some big sizes to mix on (12x16 & 16x24 shown here). This palette is pretty much indestructible.  It won't warp, you can mix on both sides, and the dried paint peels off. See how to peel dried paint off and turn that unused paint into these fascinating easy pipe coral sculptures here.

Tri-Art palettes for the thick painter
Turn Unused Palette Paint into Abstract Sculptures online course by Ruth Collis

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How to Paint a 3D

Simple Sculptural Rose

Peel Palette




Mark Fisher's Peel Palette comes in a rounded with a thumb hole for traditional painting and a flat version for the thick painter. As the name implies, you can peel the paint off and he has a world wide collaboration project if you want to send him some of you paint peels where where he will put it in a special painting. Another neat feature of his palette is that it's somewhat clear in being translucent so you can see paint squeeze together if you do a Peel Painting, or trace over a design underneath the palette with your paints and make paintskins that can be peeled off and put on canvas. This helps if you want to use a design or just save palette paint from being wasted.

Sheet Protector Palette



The sheet protector is the palette I have used the most. Some of its benefits are:

  • Easy to store being smaller

  • Holds computer printed designs to trace over

  • Totally clear to be able to see your design

  • Download template designs for it easy

  • Not too expensive depending on how many you get

  • Come in numbers so you can have many palettes for many mixes

The Sheet Protector Palette for the thick painter

A cardboard insert makes the sheet protector palette easy to move and easier to work with when mixing paint, and when adding gel mediums, it works best to use one color per sheet to make it easier to mix without getting into another color. Sometimes you can fit two mixes on one sheet to save room but may take some skill.


Since gel mediums are still acrylics, you will still have to work fast and always keep the paint moving so it doesn't skin over on you. It is best to work without a fan on since that speeds the drying up. Of course, the sheet protector will let you peel paint off as well, a most important feature about not wasting paint.


(See these links on saving paint:

The Paint Scrap Junkyard

How to Dispose of Acrylic Paint Water

What is a Paintskin?)

Freezer Paper Palette


Freezer paper rolls come in these good sizes that I've tried. The 1000 foot you might need to buy a holder for it since it's so big:


18 inches wide x 75 feet long

18 inches wide x 300 feet long

18 inches wide x 1000 feet long

Freezer Paper paltte for Thick Painting

A final thick painter's palette can be the Freezer Paper palette for those who want something cheap and quick, although it doesn't last as long. Avoid heat so the non-stick coating doesn't come off and get ruined.

You basically wrap the shiny side out of freezer paper around something stiff like cardboard and tape it on the back. It is a good idea to wrap both entire sides so if you have to stack palettes with paint on them you want to save, the cardboard backing won't stick to the paint on the other one. Paper products are the enemy of paint and should be kept away to not touch any paint surface. Also be careful of paint weight from stacking so that it doesn't flatten any neat paint shapes and peaks you might want to keep.

Cheap Freezer Paper palette for the thick painter

Sometimes you can even use a thick paintskin for a palette. It will eventually get so heavy it would be a good idea to use it somehow in your art or make art of it itself and mount it on a canvas or panel, probably a panel that would be supportive of all that weight.

Paintskin palette for thick painting

Which palette do you use?

Which is your favorite and why?

Answer in the comments below.

Ruth Collis, Sculptural Painting Instructor

Ruth Collis

Sculptural Painting Instructor

See how to store these thick paint palettes in "The Cube Studio Setup" ebook that could still help more artist's organize than just the thick painter.

The Cube Studio Setup ebook by Ruth Collis
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