Testing Phoenix Artist’s Palette

Testing Phoenix Artist’s Palette
The result of my latest supplies hunt: Copics, Brushmarkers, Promarkers, SM-LT Start Pads, painting brushes, masking tape and drawing gum in a marker, water brushes, Pablo art supplies case and Phoenix palette

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.

Phoenix Artist’s Palette 30,5 x 40,5cm

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.

Phoenix Artist’s Palette: Bendy palette is bendy

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…

Old Leniar palette that I gave up on scratching the paint off

…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.

Phoenix Artist’s Palette with Leniar palette underneath.

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

Phoenix Artist’s Palette test run with acrylic paints. Wax coat makes the paper shiny!

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.

Phoenix Artist’s Palette during and after peeling the paint off

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! ★★★★☆


Testing new Mijello Peel-off palette

Testing new Mijello Peel-off palette

First art post after a long while! I really missed it.

As some of you may know – one of my favourite traditional art media is acrylic paints. Just like any other paints you have to have a place to keep and mix this medium while painting – a palette. Most of the traditional artists I know paint either with oils or watercolours, so many things about acrylics I have to discover on my own, including what palette is the best for acrylics and which one I like the most.

The first palette I was using was a cheap watercolor plastic palette, the kind you can buy in supermarkets (and I believe that’s where I got mine) with round-ish shape, recesses for paints and a hole for a thumb. It was way too small for my needs so using it was a constant struggle and I was told by my painting master that this kind of palette is a big no and that I should change it.

So my next palette was a big (bigger than A3) wooden clipboard with a sheet of paper on it. After a while it got to me that paper is just too grainy and it absorbs water pretty fast so my paints were drying too quickly. I needed something smoother, and white copy paper was really good for that purpose. But, soon enough I realised that just white semi-transparent copy paper is not good on its own on the wood because if the canvas is white then I need also a white palette to see the outcome colours the same(ish) way they’d look on the canvas. So just like before I attached a sheet of paper to the clipboard and then over the regular paper – I put the copy paper sheet. It was a really nice solution – when the “palette” was full i could just throw away the copy paper sheet and attach a fresh one.

MDF 30x40cm 3mm Leniar palette. Image from szal-art.pl

But. The wooden clipboard was quite heavy and the used copy paper sheets were multiplying like crazy in my art supplies bag. Then in my online art store I noticed an iteresting thing – a super cheap, quite big, plastic palette without recesses or cells for paints, so it was very similar what I was using, but lighter in weight and it was plastic, so in theory it should be also easy to clean.

And it was. To a degree. Acrylics are not washable when they dry out but you can peel them off smooth surfaces. Sometimes when I couldn’t find my wooden palette I’d use that regular cheap plastic watercolour palette I started with and the outcome would be the same as with the new big one – after peeling off most of the dried out paints some small spots of paints would still stay and to remove them I’d have to scratch them off, instead of peeling off, because they were too small, too thin and probably they got into some micro cracks in the surface which was making them “unpeelable”.

Leniar palette test

This Leniar palette is stil really convenient to use. Even though those small spots were staying (ok, maybe even a lot of them), I find it relaxing to clean this palette before starting another painting session. And I discovered that those spots were coming off with a next layer of paint from another session so they weren’t actually something to worry about. And yes, maybe the peeling off process with the Leniar palette wasn’t as easy as one would want but for me it was like brushing a horse’s mane before a ride – cleaning the palette helps me getting into the painting mood and befriending the paints for the painting session.

Mijello Multi B palette. Image from szal-art.pl

But sometimes I just don’t have time or patience to sit for half an hour and peel off the paints so when I noticed this new palette in the same store as before I decided to buy it and give it a try.

The palette’s description says it’s very smooth and is supposed to be very good for acrylic paints as it’s dedicated for them. It doesn’t have a separate cell for each paint, whis is good (for me) – rather than that it has a separated row for the paints. Additionally it has a ridge splitting the main part of the palette in half which I don’t understand at all, but maybe I’m just an ignorant. Even though I was hoping I would change my mind after actually testing the palette, unfortunately the middle ridge still doesn’t make much sense to me. I guess there may be some uses for it but I definitely don’t need it.

Mijello palette before unpacking

As you can see on the picture to the right the Mijello palette producer really wants to emphasize how good it is for acrylic paints and how it will make all the paints just peel off easily. Of course you have to look at advertisements remembering that they will always say how miraculous the product is which is rarely the truth. So here I wasn’t expecting any miracles either. In all honesty I wasn’t expecting much at all but I was curious about the palette because, according to the producer, it’s meant to be mostly for acrylics which are my main traditional art tool.

My first thoughts after unpacking the palette were that it is ideed very smooth and it could actually work as described because of it. It also has 4 rubber “bumpers” which prevent the palette from moving when it’s put on a smooth surface.

Mijello palette Bumpers.

This is another feature of the palette that I don’t really need since when I paint i keep the palettes on my lap, so there is no need of stabilizing them with bumpers for me. The funny thing with those bumbers is – you have to attach them on your own. (Why couldn’t they be attached in the factory?) Anyway, even though I don’t need need them I still decided to attach them and they were another nice surprise – I didn’t think they’d be of such a good quality. And not only that but they are also sticking out of their sockets, instead of being just flat and barely touching the surface they’d be standing at, what I was expecting, so it seems the bumpers can actually do their job pretty well.

On the negative side and kind of tiny disappointment is the palette’s size – it’s smaller than the Leniar one. But it’s not generally small, just smaller than my previous palette, plus I didn’t actually compare their dimensions before buying, so I don’t really mind that much. Mijello palette is still decent in size so it’s fine. Plus because it has the special area for the paints seperated from the mixing area with a ridge – it’s not necessary to keep a distance between the pure paints and mixing area anymore – so you need a bit less space on the palette thanks to that. Also the ridges at the palette’s edges – I think some people may not like them but they are just another space saving feature in my opinion – you don’t have to leave an empty area at the edges of the palette anymore since any disobedient paint won’t run away from it thanks to this border ridge. And I have to admit – while painting with Mijello palette not even once I felt I didn’t have enough space on it, so I dare to say the size didn’t matter 😉

Mijello palette on Leniar palette to compare their sizes.
Mijello palette water repelling proof

After unpacking and preparing everything else it was time to finally test the palette in action. What I noticed instantly was that it wasn’t repelling the paints even when they were sort of liquidy. The repelly was only happening  when I added a lot of water to the paints and they were mostly dissolved in it. Additionally, to not let my paints dry out on the palette too fast I sprinkle them with water, and when I did it for the first time while testing the Mijello palette – I noticed something interesting: it doesn’t repel pure paints but it repells both paints dissolved in water and just water – you can see it very good on the photo to the right.

But what I was especially curious about was not if the palette repels water (still it’s a really good thing to know!) but if it really is making wonders in the area of cleaning the palette after painting, so there was no other way to learn it than just to keep painting and covering the palette with paints. And I tend to have thick layers of paints when I finish my painting sessions so since I had a painting to finish – it was a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

I was trying out the peeling-off property of the palette also during the painting process and it was woking pretty nicely but fresh paints behave a bit different than completely dried out ones  so with the real peeling-off test I had to wait to at least the next day after the finished session. The results you can see below and they were… suprisingly GOOD, especially comparing to the Leniar palette cleaning process. At this point I should be used to Mijello palette exceeding my expectations but on the other hand maybe I should have had higher expectations because I can’t say the palette was especially cheap. It wasn’t very expensive either but it was over 4 times more expensive than the Leniar one.

Mijello palette test

It’s clear that this palette DOES make the paints peel off easily so the cleaning lasts much shorter than in Leniar’s case. But what is worrying – after just one cleaning the palette is already covered with nail scratches. I don’t have long nails and they are softer than the average (which is VERY inconvenient, believe me) so unless I did something wrong – the surface of the palette may be very smooth initally but it looses this property really fast. So now the question is – it obviously will affect the easiness of peeling the paints off the palette, but how soon it will became just a regular Tray Palette, instead of Peel-Able Tray Palette?

Summarizing – Mijello palette is really good and it pretty much does what it promises, but remember to not trust the advertisment pictures. The dimensions of this palette seem perfect for my needs – I used almost all the surface but didn’t have a feeling of not having enough space on the palette. After the paints dry out it is possible to peel them off quickly and easily without scratching or spending hours on the cleaning. The border ridges prevent paints from getting out of the palette and the ridge that divides clear paints area from mixing area is saving some space, but if you use a lot of colours – you will not like it, unless you only put small amounts of paints there. The middle ridge splitting the mixing area in half is useless in my opinion but others may find it helpful. The surface seems really fragile which is worrying as the scratches that it gets realy easily may affect the palette’s key properties. The price is not too high so buying the palette is worth it in my opinion, as long as the easiness of peeling off the paints doesn’t disappear too soon due to scratches on the surface.

I have to say though that I still like the Leniar palette too. It’s cheap, big and solid so it’s not worse than Mijello, but it’s different, so it could be more useful than the Mijello one, depending on what you need and exect from a palette. It defnitely lacks Mijello’s easy peeling-off property, but it is not dedicated to acrylic paints, unlike Mijello, so it may be perfect for oils, for example. The choice what to use is always based just on personal preferences so it’s good to try out as many options as possible.

Click to see my portfolio.

Thank you for reading! If you’re curious about what I was painting while testing the palette – it’s the painting on the left 🙂 Click it to be redirected to my Portfolio where you can find it in bigger version as well as some of my other works, both traditional and digital.