My palette is made of glass and sits on a taboret. Sure, it's not the epitome of a set-up, but neither is my studio. But we do what we need to do to make things work. I love the glass palette, because it is easier to scrape off the paint when it dries. Which it sometimes does. Also, with a wood palette you must repeatedly put linseed oil on (and the oil from the paint soaks into the wood) to create a glass-like surface. Well, then why not just go with glass?
Anyway, if you notice on the palette I set up my paints the same way every time, from lightest color to darkest color, going from left to right. The set-up is the exact same on my field easel. I do this so I can instinctively reach for the color without having to look for it each time I want it. Painting is hard enough, so I try to set things up to make the little things easier and simpler.
Underneath the palette are white gripper sheets used for protecting the inside of your cabinet, found at the local superstore. Because I usually don't tone my canvases, I want to be able to see the color as pure as possible against white. I have thought about putting down a middle gray underneath, too. But right now it's still white.
Because I have been wanting to understand and work with values better, I have printed out two 9-step value strips and placed them underneath the glass. So when I mix a value, I can compare it to the strip to see approximately what value I have mixed. It's interesting how sometimes I'll mix a 6 or 7 and believe it's a 4 or 5. This also helps to keep the overall value relationship of the painting. I don't really use it once I have a set value for the painting, as all subsequent values will be compared to the first one I mixed. As an example, in the first photo I have begun to mix color piles for the painting that is now on my easel. Because these are for the sky of the painting, I want to make sure I keep the values the same, but have different hues to mix in the sky (see my post on Color Variation.) The color to the far right is a near black and not intended for the sky. I usually mix it early so I have a comparison of the full spectrum of value.