After years of fumbling around and using anything lying around as a palette for my acrylic paintings (including albums, CDs and ripped up pieces of cardboard) a friend of mine suggested to me what I consider one of the greatest inventions ever conceived by mankind, the butcher tray palette. What a revelation, a non disposable painting palette, one that would last forever through anything, this was a totally new concept for me. I had tried to use other palettes(wood and white plastic) before, but it took would take so much valuable time and effort to clean the damn things I did not see the point in actually reusing them. Well this all changed when I bought my first butcher tray which I would still be using today, but because I got lazy this one day and used oil paints with it, it became unusable after a while, that stuff was not coming off anytime soon, oh well lesson learned.
These trays were designed in that era known as by older folks as ‘the time when they built things to last,’ and they are made out of solid steel and coated in a white oven baked porcelain enamel coating that make them practically indestructible. This porcelain surface is super shiny which means it is great for mixing paint and it makes the clean up a breeze, all I do is fill it up with water in the sink and in an hour all that dried paint just separates and floats to the surface and I just skim off the paint, wipe the tray down and I am ready to roll again. Another great feature about the tray is that the middle area of the pan is raised which means that you can have water collecting around the edges for mixing, this is great when you want to use a lot of washes like I do, especially when I am working on a koi painting which requires a lot of thinned out paint to do my various layers and water effects. With a butcher tray palette you can also have your paint, water and brushes all in one area which makes it so much easier to work with, especially when you really need focus on your painting it is good to know that everything you need as you work is all in one place. I strongly recommend getting some kind of cover for your butcher tray because this way you can cover it all up when you are finished for the day(I use a flat sheet of plexiglass now with tape on the sides, aluminum foil always works in a pinch) and the next time you work with it all of your paints and mixes with still be fresh and you can be ready to go since nothing has dried out that is going to save you time and money since you will be wasting less paint. One of the reasons I stopped using oil paints was because of the big clean up I had to do when I finished and cleaning out those brushes was always such a chore, but with this method I just put my brushes in the edges of the pan with the water, close the lid and go to sleep and I am good for the next day.
March 11, 2014