Above: a closeup of my Schmincke pan watercolor palette (these pans are factory filled with Schmincke paints). This is one of several watercolor and gouache palettes that I use at various times depending on the paints I want to use. I selected this palette for the today because I think it clearly shows how individual pans are getting “contaminated” from my brush while working, shows the spatter of colors in the channels between the pans, from quick working, and shows a fun mix of “turkey” brown (blue and orange) with individual pigments still visible. (The palette working space is something I typically clean off at the end of a working session.)
I’m not saying that everyone who has a pristine palette doesn’t use it, but in several decades of teaching I will tell you that every student who comes through one of my classes with a clean palette is more hung up on doing things “perfectly,” or not messing up his paints, or not contaminating his colors, than he is concerned with painting, with creating. It becomes something those students have to work through if they are actually going to spend more time painting than worrying about rules, or perfect palettes, or a myriad of non-painting things.