04 May 2016

color play

I gave away a lot of art supplies before moving to Texas, but I still have some whole and half sized pans that hold colors I no longer use. I don't want to get rid of the little pans, yet I don't want to just throw the old paints away because they are artist-quality (as in, more expensive).

I used to have around 30 watercolor paints in my large studio set. Then cut that down to maybe 24. Now, I am down to the above 18. Among these are several convenience colors that can easily be mixed, but sometimes I just like to "grab and go". A couple of these (like blue apatite) may eventually go as well, but I'll keep it until the tube is empty.

On the left side above are the limited palettes I normally use, one for color and one for just a bit of shade or light in an ink drawing. I had three Altoids chewing gum tins (no longer available), so I put together three more limited palette sets, on the above right. One on the bright side, one of muted color, and one with Liz Steel's limited choices just for fun. (She doesn't have the mixed gray in hers but there was an empty space and I learned of mixing my own gray from her.)

Recently Irish artist Roisin Cure posted the colors in her paintbox --- many I don't use but I had similar colors in leftover full pans so I put together a "Roisin" set just to play. I love her use of indigo for black and shadows; I don't have indigo but I do have some leftover Lunar Blue that might work. I wondered about her not including a burnt sienna-type color, but found I could mix one. Not liking pink, I don't have 'opera pink' but do have a quinacridone violet that was once sent to me by mistake. (The seller told me to keep it at no charge.)

And that ends this particular sketchbook, a cheap ($4) journal found at Hobby Lobby. This last 2-page spread was used to test inks and color mixes while working elsewhere in the book.


  1. I love seeing other people's palettes. I bought a tube of Potters Pink, but I haven't experimented with it yet. I have Indian Red in my 24-color palette right now, but I'm not sure I like it and don't really use it much anyway. Potters Pink might be an interesting earth red to try instead. How do you like it compared to other earth reds?

    I love Perylene Maroon and Perylene Green but don't have either in my palette at the moment. I'm using PR264 Pyrrole Crimson as my dark red. But Perylene Maroon and PG7 make a great black.
    I have Indanthrone Blue as my dark blue, but thanks to your note, I now know I can mix it!
    I got tired of mixing my gray, so I bought a tube of DS Black Tourmaline Genuine to try. I'm enjoying that; it makes some really interesting darks mixed with any of the other colors on my palette and a really yummy gray mixed with Buff Titanium. I use Moonglow a lot for shadows.
    And I exchanged Burnt Sienna for Quin. Burnt Orange to see how I like it. So far, so good. Have you compared the two?

    I'm going to check out the link to Roisin Cure. I haven't used an orange on my palette (I use PR255 in that spot), but I've been noticing that several of my favorite sketchers/painters (Brenda Swenson, Shari Blaukopf, John Muir Laws) use it, so I might try to work that one in.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Other artist's palettes are endlessly fascinating!

    I've tried quin. burnt scarlet and Indian red as an earth red but prefer perylene maroon over both of them. Indian red is a gorgeous color but seems a bit too opaque and doesn't mix well with other paints. I use potter's pink more as an "other" paint -- muted pinks and in skin tone mixes.

    I keep going back to the first black / gray I learned to use, ultramarine and burnt umber. Pre-mixing in an empty pan just makes it convenient. Much richer than payne's gray and doesn't fade like payne's. Moonglow intrigues me though! I love PrimaTek colors' granulation --- another favorite is jadeite genuine!

    I go back and forth with burnt sienna and quin. burnt orange --- love them both! Oddly, the artist who introduced me to watercolor disliked all siennas.

    Have you checked out Jane Blundell's blog? Lots of interesting pigment studies!

  3. Jane was the one who first taught me to mix Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna to make a gray. I love her Web site and blog. She and handprint are my go-to places for all things color. Jane is also a wonderful teacher--I took her online watercolor tutorial.

    I love Jadeite too. You might like Moonglow. It mixes beautifully with everything on my palette and creates some really moody colors.

  4. Jane is truly amazing!
    And I love 'moody' colors as much as I love granulation -- definitely need to try moonglow!


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