The golden rule about palettes is that there is no perfect palette. The type of palette you use is completely up to personal preference! I would like to note that I am not a palette addict...I just haven't found the one yet.
There are three main types of palettes: plastic, metal and porcelain/ceramic.
The great thing about plastic palettes is that they are relatively inexpensive ranging anywhere from $4-$30 and with "high-end" plastic palettes (such as the Mijello line) ranging $30-$50. Plastic palettes are usually preferred by painters because it is easier to work with. The surface area of most plastic palettes allow you to see the colors laid out which gives you better control of the water to paint ratio.
Unfortunately, the downside to plastic palettes is that you cannot move your colors around once you have squeezed the paint out of the tubes and onto the palette. Plastic palettes are also known to stain over time but there are a few out there that claim to be "stain-resistant."
Eventually I grew annoyed with the Mijello because I acquired too many colors and did not like the stains which accumulated in the wells.
I moved on from plastic palettes and researched for a palette that would allow you to switch or swap out colors. This is where metal palettes come in. Metal palettes are extremely durable and can last 10-20+ years. In metal palettes, you need to buy half-pans or full-pans which are these little cube-like blocks to fill your paint in. These pans are made of plastic but once filled, should hold you enough paint to last several months to a year (dependent on your brand of watercolors which I will cover in another post).
I absolutely loved using a metal box/palette to hold my paints. In fact, I loved it so much that I even bought a second one!
After some time...I realized the problem with metal boxes for painting is that it limits your brush movements. My brushes are now larger for canvas paintings and can barely squeeze into a tiny well. Additionally, the metal boxes stain even more than the plastic would. I'm a picky painter and I dislike stains on my palette because I would like to see the proper shade of color before I apply it on a canvas. I rinsed out the top cover of my metal palette but the darker pigments stayed behind. However, these are great for transport/travel or plein air painting outdoors. Since I live in New York City, I did not care for that added benefit though because I never bring it outside my apartment.
This type is extremely durable, usually heavy and also fragile. They are probably the best you can buy. The downside is that they are quite heavy to hold with one hand and are not meant to be used outside your studio or home. They are really easy to clean up and does not stain. I also love how my brushes glide across the surface on a porcelain palette. Mixing paints on a porcelain palette is also much better than a metal one because the paints do not separate or bead. I bought mine on sale at Utrecht for around $4 which is not too bad. I would love to have a full sized porcelain palette like the Stephen Quiller Porcelain Palette or the Tom Lynch Palette but fear breaking them. Maybe I'll get one at a later time.
My Main Palette
So I went to the art store today and settled on the Mijello Bullet Proof Glass Palette which sounded promising in terms of non-staining and allows you to see the true color of your paints. I think this is the one for me. I have plenty of mixing room and I absolutely love how my paints appear as they should on the palette and on paper/canvas.
With the metal box before, I had issues judging if purples were dark enough or if a certain shade dried darker than it was supposed to be. This Mijello palette seems to solve all my problems and I'm probably going to use it as my main palette. Each type of palette has a different function. If you're just beginning, I recommend buying a plastic that suits your painting style. Some painters hate plastic palettes while others love them but they are preferred in beginner classes for the sheer ease of color mixing and availability.
Hope you enjoyed this long and lengthy post! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below :)