Classical Atelier at Home

For the self taught realist artist

Low budget glass palette

You propably know the traditional wooden palettes that artists use – on one hand they hold their brushes and on the other is a wooden palette resting on the forearm, secured by the thumb through a hole. Read on and learn about the advantages of a Glass Palette and how you can get one for little money.


There are certain disadvantages with these hand held wooden palettes:

  • Color: The color of wood is not neutral therefore all your mixed colors will be influenced by this. By trying to compensate for the warm tone of a wooden palette your color judgements propably will not be as exact as they could be. So a neutral palette is the better option.
  • Hard to clean: Due to the texture of a wooden palette you will have problems cleaning them perfectly. And when your paints have dried on the palette it’s harder to get them off the wood. With a glass palette you can easily use a razor blade and scrape off all the residues.
  • One arm occupied: While painting you will often use a Mahlstick to rest your painting hand on it while holding it with the other hand. With a palette holding on the arm you are not able to hold a Mahlstick.



The solution to these disadvantages is a glass palette which rests on a table and has a neutral background. I found such a glass palette for 4.49 Euros (~6 $) at IKEA. It’s the RIBBA picture frame with a dark grey frame. I placed a grey medium value paper behind the glass and it now serves me well in my little atelier. Make sure you buy a picture frame with glass. Some of IKEA’s picture frames have transparent plastic which is likely to scratch with use.

Another advantage is that I can place what ever I want behind the glass – if it’s a photo reference or a value scale.


I currently use the STRÖMBY picture frame in 30 x 40 cm under which I placed my self made Munsell swatches. It has more surface area to mix paints on than the previous fame.

IKEA Glas palette

Here is a selection of other shots:

6 thoughts on “Low budget glass palette”

  1. I am amazed by how helpful you are! I just have one question, about the glass: doesn’t all glass have a slight greenish tint? This might change all the Munsell colors placed under the glass. Of course, if all the colors are relative, maybe it wouldn’t matter?

    Much appreciation for all your work on behalf of all of us trying to paint well!

    • Hello Miriam. I do not know if and to what extent glass has a tint and if it is the same tint for every glass. But as you say all the Munsell chips would change tint equally. I have not seen any difference between chips placed beneath the glass and those placed on top.

      The good thing about art is that it is no rocket science and one does not have to be super accurate with decimal places to get to where we want to.

  2. Further to my first question, wouldn’t you have to place an identical piece of glass in front of your subject (person, still life set-up) in order to equalize the effect of the glass tint on top of the chips on the palette?

  3. I saw a wall palette that was $100. With your picture frame idea, you could hang it up and with some additional wall screws to hold it in place, and you’d have a much cheaper wall palette., and you could try it out to see if you liked it without spending a lot of money. I have a piece of cut glass with beveled edges,on a table currently, but I’m going to try your picture frame and use it on the wall and see if I like it or not. (Just going to use a small one to try it out-even less expensive).
    Thanks very much !

Comments are closed.