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Product Review: Sta-Wet Handy Palette

This month I kept busy doing the annual Gouachetober challenge. You can check it out on my Instagram page here. For those of you who may not know what that is, gouache (pronounced GWASH like squash) is a unique type of paint that works like watercolor but also has properties like acrylic paint. You can activate it with water and get a very thin, watercolor effect or you can paint it on more thickly and get an opaque look, like acrylic. Either way, it helps if you do not let your paint dry out completely while working. That's why I chose to purchase the Masterson's Sta-Wet Handy Palette.

I should note that this is not a paid endorsement, just an honest review of a product I purchased and have used! Up until now I had only ever used paper palettes when working with watercolors, acrylics and gouache. To keep the watercolor and gouache wet I either dipped my brush in water and dropped several drops on the paint or I used a small spray bottle. This worked with mixed results as sometimes I got too much water in the paint and thinned it out too much and other times it dried out before I could re-wet it. I've found that particularly with gouache, once it dries it's hard to get a nice thick, opaque layer again. Trying to reactivate it with water thins it out too much so I was especially interested to see if the sta-wet palette would be able to keep it wet enough to work with after a day or so.

I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised at how well it worked! I prepared the sponge and the paper as directed, painted and then closed up the palette. On day two I held my breath a little as I opened it back up to see how the paint held up overnight. It had not dried out and was soluble enough to work with! That was very nice and saved a lot of time when painting. I would say the sponge and paper lasted about a week before I needed to re-wet everything so I was able to make it through several challenges before having to take care of that. The only thing I would list as an inconvenience is the prepping of the paper beforehand. You have to wet the paper in extremely hot water and let it sit for about 15 minutes or so before using it. That meant that I could not just quickly swap out my old paper that I had covered in paint with a fresh piece; I had to make sure I left time to prepare another sheet. Also... it doesn't help if you forget to put the lid back on the palette tightly when you're finished. I forgot once or twice and although things had not dried out completely, I did have to re-wet the sponge sooner because I had left it exposed to the air for too long.

So, overall, I would definitely recommend using a sta-wet palette if you want to work with water-based paints over a longer period of time. I may next try it with acrylics and see how it works to prevent those from drying out. Have you ever used a palette like this? If so, what were your thoughts?

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