As expected, my Mijello palette lost its easy peel-off feature after a while, and because I don’t want to waste my time neither on scratching the paint off it nor on destroying my poor nails while doing it, recently I came back to my old “budget” setting (clipboard + white piece of paper + tracing paper) while looking for a new palette.
I tried a small round paper palette earlier but after giving it a few tries I realized it’s just too small for me (size matters! 😉 ). I have to admit though I generally liked the idea of the easy cleaning (you just tear off the top sheet!) palette so I thought I could try out something similar but more matching the kind of palettes I’m used to, so rectangle and A3 size.
Since I was on an art supplies buying spree recently I decided to also add a new painting palette to the shopping cart, so I could test it and hopefully use in the future. After comparing prices and sizes I decided to get the acceptable priced one close to the A3 size I’m used to – Phoenix Artist’s Palette (paper one). I was very curious of it because I don’t know much about the company’s products and I don’t own any. I’ve only heard their oil paints are not very good (can’t confirm it though) but nothing besides that.
I still didn’t manage to try out yet some of the things I bought (like the SM-LT Start Pads that look very pretty by the way!) because of the lack of time. Yesterday though I had my painting session and finally got to try that Phoenix Artist Palette.
The first thing I noticed about the palette was that it was very… bendy. My sarcastic side immediately thought that by the phrase “Fine Artist Materials” (you can see it on the palette’s cover) the producer meant that they are thin rather than good quality. Either way it wasn’t a good start of my relationship with the palette.
If you’re a person who paints while holding the palette in your hand you may consider getting either a different palette or a board you could put under the Phoenix palette to prevent it from bending. And that’s what I decided to do too – even though I usually sit while painting and I keep the palettes on my lap, I still don’t want the palette to bend.
Trying to come up with a solution to the “bendy” problem, I remembered I had an A3 rectangle Leniar board palette that I don’t use anymore because scratching the paint off it is more time consuming than painting itself. The Leniar palette has the thumb hole and the dimensions are similar to the Phoenix palette, therefore it should work perfectly as a board under the latter one…
…except the thumb opening is aligned to the top of it instead of to the bottom like in the Phoenix palette. But fortunately everything is aligned on an acceptable level when the Leniar palette is flipped upside-down.
So, moving to the most important part – what are Phoenix Artist’s Palette’s sheets like? Here the answer comes immediately too and it also is concerning – the sheets are VERY thin. Somewhere between tracing paper and carbon paper thin. On the top surface the sheets are thickly covered with wax (or a similar substance) so they could keep the paint on them instead of absorbing it so there is hope the palette will actually work like it’s intended to.
Because the sheets were very thin and the whole palette is very bendy I lowered my expectations from the palette and assumed my sarcastic side had to be right about the quality but still I had to test the palette in practice because you can’t make your opinion on something basing solely on assumptions.
Once I put my paints on this palette I realized it’s not actually that bad! I initially thought the paint would soak in the paper through the wax coat or of some sort of a chemical reaction would start but nothing like that happened. In fact, because of the waxy, and therefore partly smooth but also partly sticky surface of the sheets, mixing the colours was actually very pleasant. The paper is water repellent too so you can spray your paints with water without worrying about destroying the sheet. That gives the Phoenix palette a big advantage over regular tracing paper – the latter one bends and wrinkles under water and small amounts of paints soak in it, which makes the tracing paper almost impossible to use it again later
As you can see on the right picture above the corner of the palette is bent but it’s not because of the bad quality of the paper. Rather than that, it’s because the paper is so thin – we’re having a hot summer currently and I had my fan on while painting and the stream of air temporarily bent the palette paper. So, another tip today – if you decide to use this palette outside: staple the palette to the board underneath so you can still tear off the sheets but the wind can’t bend the paper.
During the testing I noticed another feature of the palette that is also a result of the wax coat – the dried paint was not fully sticking to the paper so after it dried completely you could peel it off! Actually, the paint started peeling while still drying out so make sure you don’t mix your paint on an area already covered with a dried paint if you don’t want clumps of dried paint on your brush.
The peel-off process with Phoenix paper palette is not as easy as it was at the beginning with Mijello palette but it’s still quite ok, especially that this one wasn’t meant to be peeled – it was meant to be disposed of after use. Since the art supplies are expensive though, the possibility of reusing the paper sheets of this palette is a nice surprise and a chance to save some money as you pretty much get at least 2 palettes at the price of one.
Overall it was a rollercoaster with this palette: several disappointments but also several awesome discoveries. I think the upsides in this case are stronger than downsides and I will continue using Phoenix Artist’s Palette. I may buy a matching board though because it’s what I’ll definitely need as the palette pad is very bendy and needs a firm support underneath. The palette won’t work too good outside on a windy day either because of the extremely thin paper. If used correctly though the palette can be very helpful and reusing the paper will let you save some money. 4 stars from me! ★★★★☆