The goal of this series of articles is NOT to suggest that you run out and buy every colour which I use. Instead my hope is that by sharing my own thought process and preferences you’ll be able to think through your own palette and personal colour needs. We all have different favourite colours, different favourite subject matters and live in different parts of the world, so our palettes should be different too!
So first up is YELLOW and straight away I have a quirky selection!
A standard split primary would be to have a lemon(cool) yellow and a deep (warm) yellow (such as New Gamboge or Hansa Yellow Medium). The rationale between splitting our primary colours (yellow, red and blue) into two versions – a warm and a cool – is so that we can achieve more vibrant mixes. In the case of yellow, the theory is that a lemon makes better green and a deep yellow makes a better orange.
But when I use a yellow, I normally want a middle yellow (a primary yellow) and DS Hansa Yellow Medium fits that bill perfectly. I’m happy with the greens and the oranges that it makes, so I don’t feel as if I need to split my yellow into a cool and warm version and if I did, I would have to mix them together to get a primary yellow. (Note: I’ve recently split my Hansa Yellow Medium into two half pans to keep the pan clean, but that’s a totally different matter! See more here.)
In an expanded palette I would have DS New Gamboge as it is such a gorgeous colour and reminds me of Lisbon and pasteis de natas. (Is that a crazy reason to like a colour??) But my great friend, Jane Blundell, pointed out to me that I could easily mix a New Gamboge colour using DS Quinacridone Gold. So in a way Quin Gold has become my warm yellow. (Note: Shortly after first meeting Jane in 2013 (more about that here) we had a palette session and she introduced me to a lot of Daniel Smith colours which are still an important part of my palette today – see here. Thanks Jane!)
As for DS Quinacridone Gold – it’s a colour which I love and is essential to me due to all my tea cup sketching. I know that I can mix an alternative with Hansa Yellow Medium and Transparent Red Oxide, but it just doesn’t work for me as well. Quin Gold also makes beautiful greens which are perfect for Australia. (Note: I still have plenty of stock of the original Quin Gold which is sadly no longer available. The new version of Quin Gold is not the same and when I run out (in many years time) I’m not sure what I will do.)
The third yellow is WN Naples Yellow and it’s in my palette just because I like it!
DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna is another yellow but I will discuss that in the earth colours article.
Enough preamble about yellow… here are the individual pages for each colour with additional notes.
Hansa Yellow Medium (Daniel Smith)
Quincridone Yellow (Daniel Smith)
Naples Yellow (Winsor Newton)
Full Palette – Further Reading
Just for reference… here is my complete palette with the abbreviations I use for the other colours.
- The general principles behind my palette selection
- All my palette articles
- My SketchingNow Watercolour course – Learn how to increase your control of water, how to decide when to layer/glaze and when to work wet-in-wet, how to create vibrant colours with a limited palette, how to be more confident with your use of colour and much more!
So what yellows do you have in your palette? and why are they there?
Thank you in advance to anyone who takes to the time to share in the comment section – it really makes this article more valuable for other readers. Plus I always LOVE reading about other people’s WHY’s