• Shawn Dell Joyce artist

Keeping an organized palette

I don't know if you are anything like me, but when I'm in the heat of the moment creating and the art is just flowing out of me, the last thing I think about it keeping an organized palette!

So, I have to start off organized and allow it to get messy as I go. Being a pastelist, my palette is a little different from a painter's palette. I set up my palette according to values from dark to light like this...

my pastel palette-notice the values from 5-1

The pastels are laid out according to values, not color. I start with the darks (5s) and methodically work my way through the values to 1. Below the palette, is my sketch book with a value sketch in pencil and a color sketch which helped me choose which colors I would be laying out in the palette.


Here's my plein air pastel kit which has two drawers, which are also organized according to values. The top drawer is


top drawer of plein air pastel set

Here's the bottom drawer which has most of the colors. Pastelists often bring thousands of pastels but only use a handful. Pastelists mix color by layering color on the support where painters mix colors on a palette and apply the paint with a brush.

Color drawer of plein air pastel set

I keep these pastels (mostly) organized so that I can easily find what I'm looking for. When I compete, its important to find the right color quickly so I keep them all easily accessible in the same drawers. This makes it possible to find the right color even in the dark-which is handy because I often paint nocturnes and teach nocturne painting classes.


I do the same thing with my studio pastels. These are sets of different brands (mostly Mount Vision Pastels) organized in ROZ pastel boxes according to complimentary pairs. This makes them easy to access and find and I use only one set of complimentary pairs for a painting.


Now you don't have to organize them exactly like mine but you will be far more successful if you organize them in some logical way. I use a split-complimentary palette when I paint so this method works best for me.


If you have a unique system, let me know. Leave a comment below so we can see!

© 2020 by Shawn Dell Joyce.Shawndelljoyce@gmail.com