For the longest time, I just used old plates a painting palettes. Most of these were your basic grandma's china/ thrift store special. They got the job done even though sometimes the flowery designs got distracting.
After I had broken several of these plates, I decided it was time to invest in something nicer. I headed over to my local Blick art store and picked up a set of stacking porcelain bowls with a lid. The set is shown on the left in the picture below.
The set had five bowls at one time, but I broke one. I'm embarrassed to say that I paid in the area of $30 for this set of bowls. I thought that was awful high, but I really liked the set.
Fast forward to about two weeks ago. My wife and I were in Crate and Barrel trying to spend a gift card we had received as a wedding gift. I had never shopped at this store, but they carry a lot of plates, dishes, flatware, etc. I specifically noticed that they carried a lot of little porcelain dishes.
I really liked these little square ones pictured on the right. The best part is that they were only a buck a piece. I found them at Crate and Barrel's hipper "urban" incarnation CB2.
Granted, this made me feel like a yokel for having paid so much for a stack of pallets. Especially since these new ones were not only cheaper but actually easier to use.
I'd like to eventually get this, but right now it'd take up too much space on my tiny desk.