My porcelain palette for Chinese watercolor

My Porcelain Ink Palette

It may not look like much, but it serves the purpose. Chinese-style painting is mostly concerned with shades of black ink, so I have a separate palette for ink (although it looks like a bit of green in the upper left section—I don’t know how that got there!). I usually keep some pure black ink in one of the small upper sections, then bring that down to one of the lower sections to mix with water to get any gray I want. The next day any remaining ink will be dried, but is easily reconstituted with a bit of water. After repeated use what remains are the small granules you see in the upper left section. Depending on how it’s made (I suspect it has to do with the kind of glue used), some inks dry in little bits like this, some inks dry into thin sheets, and some inks get gummy and useless. At this stage I may add fresh ink to another upper section and continue to use this old ink for grays. I can also just add a bit of water to some of the leftover ink in the lower sections to get a light tone. One reason it looks so messy is because I repeatedly wipe the brush against the dividers in order to control how much ink and water I have on my brush.

In my opinion, one of the best materials for a studio palette is porcelain. It’s white, like the paper, so it’s easy to see what shade of gray I’ve mixed; and not porous so the ink won’t dry out too fast and, once in a while, I might use some water and wash away all the remaining dried ink—returning my palette to like-new white.

I think I found this sturdy porcelain tray at a second-hand store, though an ordinary porcelain plate works just as well.

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I welcome your comments, questions, or suggestions.