I organize my palette for consistency, ease of color mixing, and efficiency.
Here's my watercolor palette:
1. I arrange the colors like a color wheel.
Lemon yellow (lower right) next to warm yellows and gold. Next comes orange-red, then cool reds running across the top. Next, at top left and running down the left side, are the purples and blues. Around the corner to the bottom row, you find the blue-greens and greens.
2. I postion the palette in the same orientation whenever I paint.
These two practices support color mixing and efficiency in the following ways:
a) the arrangement reminds me of color mixing principles without having a color wheel posted for reference.
b) I firmly believe in body memory and muscle memory. By having the colors in the same place every time, my body knows where to reach for a color without having to really stop to look or think about where it is located.
When I am painting with acrylics or oils, I use a modified version of this system. I squeeze out only the colors I am using on that particular painting. I locate colors in the same place on my palette for the duration of the painting, but I don't follow the color wheel arrangement as strictly. Instead, I put the white and unbleached titanium at the top of my palette, the warm colors on one side, and the cool colors on the other.
Coming Up: what are the colors on my palette?