A change in my palette

January 8, 2020 | 11 Comments

I’ve been meaning to do this for years! In fact the first time I did it was way back in 2013 when I was using a triad. Suhita has reminded me recently to do this numerous times so I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to get around to it.

So what’s the change?

I have finally split my full pan of Hansa Yellow Medium into two half pans. One is used for greens and the other for warmer colours.

The warmer version is the only one I try to keep clean-ish but the ‘green’ version I don’t bother about too much. I used to try and keep the green mess to the left side of the full pan but it was hard work so this is a much better solution.

Of course now that I have split my yellow into two half pans, I can’t help thinking about changing the left side to a cooler – lemon – yellow. But it’s only thoughts at the moment!

Why am I such a messy mixer?

Well, if you have done my SketchingNow Watercolour course you will know the full story… but in essence it’s due to working fast and trying to preserve my water for as long as I can. When I work in the studio and have unlimited clean water and can change the paper towel which I am using to wipe my brush, my palette remains much cleaner!



  • Kiriaki says:

    A simple but brilliant idea. I often struggle to keep my yellows pure. Thank you for sharing

  • This is such a great idea! No more struggles with the dirty yellow pan! ???

  • What a great idea! Yellow in two pans. One for mixing greens and the other mainly for yellows. I’m always fighting with /cleaning my one pan of yellow because it always has green areas in it. This is an idea I can use for sure. Thank you Liz for sharing this tip Suhita gave you.

  • Kate Powell says:

    TWO yellow is a great idea! Suhita is brilliant! Will be doing this asap. I hate dirty yellow… Thanks!

  • Heather Austin says:

    What a great idea! Such a simple fix and the hassle of trying to keep a yellow clean is gone! Thanks for sharing such a clever trick Liz.

  • Ilse says:

    I fill my yellows pan with only a tiny bit of yellow -enough to keep me going, and little enough to beable to refresh the yellow often 🙂

  • Cora Brown says:

    Great idea! I just peaked into my palette and see that I’ll have to split my New Gamboge (warm yellow), too!

  • Ani says:

    I hope this is working fine for you.
    I did the same with my 11/12-colour palette for urban sketching. Even though I use it only once a week, I quickly ended up muddying both my yellow pans. Each time I sat down to sketch, in the heat of the moment I couldn’t be bothered recalling which was which.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Ani – spitting the yellow works fine for me… my muscle memory just knows which is which and I stick to the plan fairly easily. Hope you can get a system to work for you! 🙂

  • Danuta says:

    That’s just brilliant!!
    I have 2 yellows in my basic palette (cool and warm), but I use only one (the other I don’t like), so it gets “green-dirty” all the time…
    Now I have a solution. 🙂

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