02 January 2015

new book, new palette page

This time, I grabbed a Fabriano Venezia sketchbook off of the shelf. Wonderful 90# paper leaning towards a hot press finish --- I love this paper so much more than the BKF Rives paper used in my last sketchbook!

I've updated a few of my core watercolor choices too, as old tubes ran out and needed replacing. Jadeite genuine is much more lovely than phthalo green, while still a single pigment. A bit pricey but I don't use it all the time, just as a quick convenient cool green. Other times I mix permanent orange or quinacridone gold with a blue for various greens.

The quinacridone burnt orange I've used for years tends to be a bit greenish in some mixes so I went back to burnt sienna. After trying a sample pack from Cheap Joe's, I've found several of their American Journey line equals Daniel Smith quality but costs less.

My favorite indanthrone blue is Schmincke's deep blue indigo but that brand is harder to find and expensive --- I'm trying some from Winsor & Newton and a sample from Daniel Smith instead.

The "mixed gray" is just that: my favorite paints used to make gray or black (ultramarine & burnt umber) squeezed into an empty pan in roughly equal amounts (maybe a bit more blue), then stirred well with a toothpick. Convenient and can be used like Payne's gray but much livelier in color.

This metal travel palette from Kremer Pigments came with a third fold-out mixing area but I removed it by pulling out the long pin holding it in place. Much lighter in weight now and easier to hold when sketching standing up.


  1. I love this post. Still learning about colors and such is a bit overwhelming. Much of what I've discovered about colors has been trial and error. I've never made a glazing chart and probably should. Even though I have areas where I splurge moneywise (usually with books), I tend to be very frugal in other areas. My palette has only winsor yellow, winsor blue, alizarin crimson, paynes gray, and yellow ochre - out of frugality, but also because I enjoy trying to get as much out of as little as possible. I'm delighted to know I could have done without paynes gray. I'll experiment and may not purchase it again. I know about the difference between cool and warm colors and the difference in soft, medium, and bold pigments, but I can't afford to have a cool and warm, soft, medium, and bold of all of the primaries. Can I get by pretty well with what I have on my palette? Can I make a cool yellow warm by adding a touch of the gray? Sorry, for the many, many questions.

  2. Heather, I'm sorry for taking time to answer. I'm just getting over a nasty cold and a very energetic grandson has spent a few days with us. We are taking him home to Austin today, then we head to NW Houston on Wednesday to stay with a granddaughter for a week.

    The 3 primaries you have are all cool so they work together well. Mixing a warm with a cool can sometimes lead to muddiness, though not always. A cool red and a warm blue (ultramarine blue) makes a wonderful purple!

    Your yellow and blue makes very bright greens; for more natural greens add just a wee bit of red. You can warm your yellow up a bit by adding a bit of the red; add more for a nice orange.

    I'm not sure what pigment(s) Winsor & Newton now uses in their alizarin crimson. True alizarin crimson is VERY figitive (fades over time); the best pigment for cool red is PV19.

    Payne's gray is a mixture that usually contains a black pigment and it lightens too much when dry for my taste. Commercial black pigments are rather dull; I get a much richer gray / black by mixing my own from ultramarine blue and burnt umber. Just squeeze a bit of each in an empty pan and stir well with a toothpick.

    If I added anything to your current colors, it would be ultramarine blue and a brown, either burnt sienna or burnt umber. The warmer blue is easier to work with than Winsor blue (which is actually phthalo blue -- extremely versatile but so intense it sometimes overwhelms!).

    A color chart is the best way to learn the range of your colors. Click on "color chart" in the list of labels to the right of this blog (scroll down to find it) and you can see several of mine. The guy who introduced me to watercolor 9 years ago taught me that this was the best way to learn what my colors will do . . . and he was right!

    The way I first built up a palette was to take advantage of 40% coupons at Hobby Lobby or Michael's --- I'd buy only one tube a week using the coupon and soon had a good selection (only 8 - 12 colors then).

  3. Heather, I have learned tons about color from Jane Blundell in Australia. Here is one poo f her many posts on watercolor palettes, starting with her limited palette choices:http://janeblundellart.blogspot.com/2014/06/just-6-colours-lovely-limited-palette.html


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