When I was 7, I “sat” for a portrait. I don’t remember how many hours I squirmed in my Sunday best (a little blue velvet dress with a big lace collar), but I do remember the artist’s palette smeared with layers and layers of beautiful paint. Perhaps that early encounter inspired my later obsession with hunting down and displaying these tools of the trade. My childhood portrait now hangs in our apartment alongside my collection of palettes, which have become works of art in their own right.
While these patinaed paint displays were made from a variety of materials in assorted shapes and sizes, I’m particularly drawn to old-school wooden oval or kidney-shaped designs, complete with a thumb hole and smeared with as much paint as possible. Lucky for me, there comes a time when most artists abandon their caked-up tools to start fresh, and I can eventually scoop them up on my treks to my favorite flea markets.
I recommend honoring the creative souls who came before by hunting down crusty palettes of your own. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to display them. Built-in thumb holes are readymade for nails or a loop of ribbon when dressing up a blank wall, the back of a door, or even a hat rack. You can create picture-perfect still-lifes by topping palettes with old coffee cans filled with crusty paint brushes sprouting forth like a bouquet. However or wherever you showcase them, you’ll enjoy dabbling in