Every painter needs a palette – or twelve – and the John Pike Watercolor Palette is one of the nicest, sturdiest covered palettes you can buy.
Most of us have used loads of flat surfaces for palettes – from Styrofoam meat trays and disposable plates to enamel butcher trays and fancy-schmancy designer palettes.
All have their place in an artist’s life, but the John Pike Watercolor Palette is certainly near the top of the list in terms of durability, versatility and all-around use.
Who’s John Pike?
John Pike was an American watercolorist who lived from 1911 to 1979. John attended the Cape Cod School Of Art and after finishing his studies there, he moved to Jamaica and spent five years there painting. Returning to the United States, he painted everything from advertising signs and murals to magazine illustrations and fine art landscapes.
Traveling to Asia in 1945 with the United States military, he captured the United States occupation of Korea in sketches and paintings. He also did paintings for the Air Force Historical Foundation and established the Woodstock, New York John Pike Watercolor School in 1960. He traveled extensively, painted all over the world, and led ‘painting holidays’ for artists throughout Europe and South America.
This palette was designed and patented by John Pike in 1960 and has been in constant production since 1970. Unlike current imitators, this palette is made of heavy-duty, stain resistant, high-impact polystyrene.
Many artists have used their John Pike Watercolor Palette for decades. There are numerous anecdotes of forgetful artists leaving their palette on top of their car after plein air painting, driving off and having it fall onto a roadway with no damage.
What’s The 411?
The original John Pike Watercolor Palette is a good size without being enormous. The dimensions are 15″ × 10-1/2″ × 5/8″ and the palette has 20 – 1-1/2″ paint wells on three sides of the palette. The forth side is free of paint wells, so you don’t risk paint dripping from your brush into a paint well as you take the brush away from the palette to paint.
The inner lip of the paint well is shallow, so it’s easy to move paint from the well to the mixing area and makes it more convenient for using large brushes. The lid can also be used as a palette, and it snaps in place securely with a tight fit. It keeps paint fresh between uses. If you’re planning to go AWOL for a significant period, placing a damp sponge in the center of the palette keeps paints moist longer.
Tips For Using Your John Pike Watercolor Palette
This palette is great to use while traveling. It’s much safer and efficient to pack your sealed, pre-filled palette rather than packing numerous open tubes. For the label-crazy devotees among us, you can even use a permanent marker to label each well with your chosen color palette.
Some paints, such as Alizarin Crimson, the Phthalo hues and the Quinacridone colors are staining pigments and may tinge your palette. You can remove much of the staining with a ‘Magic Eraser,’ some ‘Soft Scrub’ or a little baking powder. Don’t use bleach, as it can degrade the composition of the polystyrene over time.
Consider the John Pike Watercolor Palette for your next palette purchase. It isn’t just another palette; it’s an investment, and one you’ll use and enjoy for many years.