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Monday, March 25, 2013

Product Review: The Palette Garage

I recently received a new product that my readers will find useful – the Palette Garage.  If you're wondering how to save the oil paint in your pochade box and keep it from drying out, this is for you!

The Palette Garage ( is basically a strip of acrylic upon which you lay out your paints in preparation for painting.  Using either the included Velcro buttons or mini-clamps, you attach it to your palette.  (This could be the palette area in a pochade box or an actual, handheld palette.)   When you're done, you remove the Palette Garage and slip it into the acrylic storage tube.  The storage tube has a cap at each end with a small wick; the wicks are dampened with clove oil, and the fumes of the oil keep the paint from drying out.

The Palette Garage comes in several sizes – 12”, 14”, 16” and 18”.  For reviewing, I chose the shortest one – the 12” - since I wanted it to fit on the palette of my Open Box M.

I wasn't able to use the mini-clamps to attach the Palette Garage to my box, so I used the Velcro buttons.  I was a little afraid the adhesive on the buttons wouldn't hold, since my Open Box M palette is well-seasoned with oil.  But after rubbing the palette with a little OMS to clean off the surface oil, the buttons held well.

I use a basic six-color split-primary palette, and although I had plenty of room for my six colors (plus a seventh guest color, Torrit Grey), I didn't have room for the white.  I usually put out a lot of white on my palette.  This isn't a  problem for me, though, as I usually use up most of the white, anyway.  Once I started painting, it was easy to pull paint off the Palette Garage with my brush or knife; it was no different than working with my usual setup.

For cleanup, it was a snap to remove the Palette Garage and place it back in its container.  I cleaned off the leading edge of the acrylic strip so it wouldn't get paint on the inside of the tube.  Also, I had to clean up the paint a bit – I mix with brushes, so the paint always gets a little dirty – but found it tricky to do so.  The acrylic is slippery, so using a knife would remove some of the dirty paint but not all of it.  To get rid of the rest, I had to use a paper towel.  This required a little care, since I easily contaminated one pile of paint with another through my clumsiness.  Next time I'll use a Qtip, which should work much better.

I found the Palette Garage easy to use and it works as promised.  I painted out in the field and then let the paint stay “parked in the garage” over several days.  The paint stayed wet and workable.   However, as a frequent painter – I paint several times a week – I find it no trouble to clean my palette and refresh the paint daily.  I'm not really concerned about wasting paint.  But if I painted only once a week, I would definitely be concerned about my paint drying out.  The Palette Garage is a perfect way to keep paint fresh.

You can find out more about Palette Garage at the website,  Palette Garage is made by the same maker of Best Brella, a product I use all the time out in the field.  For more about Best Brella, visit  (I reviewed it in this blog in 2009.)


M.A. said...

Looks wonderful! Thanks for this review.

Judy P. said...

It looks nice, I've actually used one of those 7 day pill box rows for the same purpose. Just close the individual doors, pop it in a plastic bag in the freezer.
But the separate boxes make it tough to scoop the paint out, and the doors aren't airtight, so they still dried out quickly. I do like thinking up little gadgets for painting though.

boomerbeach said...

good idea, I may get one ..
But, have you thought of clipping/securing to front on your OBM instead of on palette area and/or with this fit on the upper rear of the OBM base? ..
What is the width/depth measurement of just the acrylic piece? If one would sit atop the back, not taking much room from upper OBM painting area, it would fit on any size box? .. Hence, I'm thinking of the 14" PG for my 10x12" OBM box and not the smaller one to fit inside ..
Thanks, boomer in SoCal

Suzanne said...

This looks interesting - I'm going to order one and try it out - thanks for sharing your experience with this new gadget!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Judy and Bruce! Bruce - good ideas. The acrylic piece is 11.5" long with each fold being 2 1/8" wide. Width of the plastic is 1/16" or 2 mm. Good luck!

violetta said...

I like this idea, as up to now I have been using plastic food wrap to cover wet paint going home, and, putting it in the fridge or freezer overnight. The only reason I buy plastic food wrap at all, but still I feel bad about environmental plastic pollution. Togethor with the clove oil to keep the oil paints pliable, this eliminates any need of plastic food wrap for me.

Marian Fortunati said...

Interesting... Good for use if you're not out painting every day that's for sure.

Sharon Will said...

Thanks for the review of the Palette Garage. What I didn't see before was the angled vertical piece on the acrylic palette. It seems as if it would get in the way of getting at the paint. Did you find that an interference?
I work with water-soluble oils & have been transfering the paint to the lid of a Tupperware sandwich container, spritz with water, cover with plastic & seal with the container bottom. It stores great in the freezer for weeks if needed.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks, Violetta, Marian and Sharon! Sharon, no, that plastic piece didn't get in the way at all. Why are you spritzing the water-soluble oils? They don't contain water or dry through evaporation...they are really just regular oil paint that has been treated to be miscible in water.

Sharon Will said...

I started spritzing them before storing, as it seemed to help create a moist environment without diluting the paint. When I just covered them & put them in freezer the paint seemed to dry out forming a skin on the outside or go through that "sticky" stage as they dry faster. But you know this Pallette Garage has got me thinking - I need to experiment with oil on clove with the paint.
I enjoy your work!

ZanBarrage said...

This is a great tool. I was about to buy it, but they only take amazon payment :(