Current Palette - Jan 2020 (with updates)

January 22, 2020 | 19 Comments


What’s in my palette

DS Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 (two pans – see here for more)*
DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange PO71
DS Quinacridone Rose PV19
SCH French Ultramarine PB29
DS Cerulean Blue Chromium PB36*
DS Indanthrone Blue PB60
WN Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50
DS Cobalt Blue PB28
WN Potters Pink PR233

DS Buff Titanium PW6
WN Naples Yellow PW 6, PBr 24
DS Quinacridone Gold PO49
DS Sap Green PO48 PG7 PY150 *
DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna PBr7
DS Transparent Red Oxide PR101*
DS Van Dyck Brown PBr7
Steels Grey III (a pre mix of WN Cobalt Deep Blue with a little DS Quin Burnt Orange and a touch of DS Quin Rose)



Note 1: DS = Daniel Smith, WN = Winsor Newton, SCH = Schmincke
Note 2: I am listing them as I think of them – right column first and then left column (as I’m a leftie) – so I apologise if this list doesn’t relate to the way you are probably reading the above image!
Note 3: Cobalt paints have toxicity issues so please make sure you are aware of this. Check out this great section on the Handprint site about the topic.


* Updates in 2022

  • Reduced Cerulean Blue Chromium to a half pan and added DS Manganese Blue Hue (PB15) – see more here.
  • Removed Sap Green and now using a pre-mix of HYM and FU in some palettes –  see more here.
  • Currently using both Transparent Red Oxide and DS Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet PR206 – see more here.
  • Added Hansa Yellow Light into my palette as well


More details

For more info on why I have chosen these particular colours please check out my Colours In my Palette series. It will answer all your questions!


Watercolour Tin / Palette (updated Jan 2022)

I have two palettes that contain the above paint colours:


1. A 12 half-pan metal tin

This version is made by the Australian brand Derivan but Schmincke also make a version. This is the perfect size for me, small but with plenty of room for paint and mixing. I prefer a tin with 3 mixing wells in the lid.

Related articles:


2. Folio palette by ArtToolKit

I used this palette extensively in 2021 and enjoyed its compactness. I generally prefer the additional mixing areas and the larger pans of paint of the metal shown above. The pans of the ArtToolKit palette are a little fiddly to re-fill and I use a lot of paint!

  • Find out how I arranged my Folio palette here.
  • Other ArtToolKit articles here.


What has changed since the last palette update

Basically, not much has changed!  Despite the following tweaks during 2019, I have returned to the same basic palette. The only major change from my previous ‘current palette’ was to add WN Naples Yellow back into my palette. To fit it in I tried reducing my Transparent Red Oxide to a half pan, but then decided to reduce Cobalt instead as I’m not using it as much lately.

Tweaks and testing in 2019:

  • I tried some different Turquoise options here and here, but ended up returning to WN Cobalt Turquoise Light as it’s such a creamy smooth colour. I don’t need this colour to be granulating, so I prefer the WN version over DS Cobalt Teal Blue.
  • I used various Aquarius during my overseas trip (see palette here) and really like these paints a lot. They are beautiful! Once I returned home I went back to my standard palette as I was teaching my Watercolour On Location course and I haven’t had a chance to re-visit the Aquarius paints again. One limitation is that they only come in full pans and I need some half pans to fit all the colours I want into my small kit.
  • I swapped out Lavender for Buff Titanium. I don’t use Buff a lot but in the end I swapped it back as I was hardly using Lavender at all. I might try this switch again in the future.

An archive of my previous ‘current palettes’ can be found here.


Further Reading

Other articles to check out:


Start using your watercolour palette!

Don’t get bogged down looking for the perfect selection of watercolour paints. Make sure you are using the paints you already have and start getting to know them.

I have an online course that will help you master the basics of watercolour…

Create vibrant and lively watercolour sketches by learning how to control your water, create watercolour magic and know when to layer or work wet-in-wet.


Find out more about Watercolour


  • Nick Reed says:

    Have you used the new quin gold? Do you have a stockpile of the PO49 one?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Nick – I tested it a while ago but I do have a lot of PO49 so it will be years before I need to personally find an alternative as it is not a paint I use a lot of.

      • Katie Kruger says:

        Following on the comment regarding Quin Gold. My last tube of original Quin Gold is almost gone. I noticed a funny color in the seperated binder (greenish) to it the last time I squirted some out into a pan… It doesn’t paint out the same beautiful color anymore, it’s darker. I do have a tube of the new color and it’s much brighter and more golden. I wonder what happened to my old paint. Yours seem to be fine over the years. I hope they are all good still! 😉

  • Julie Knowles says:

    Hey Liz, I’m curious about how you mix up your own “Steels Grey III” and do you have a post on the progression? I assume there was a I and a II as well? Do you mix it up in a little bowl and then put it in the pan or do you mix it straight up in the pan??

  • charlene walker says:

    do you use tubes in the studio? My experience with pans is that it is hard to mix alot of colour, I paint big.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Charlene – no I dont use tube paint. Only my full and half pans. As I paint a lot my pans are moist and fairly easy to pick up … but you do certainly have to work harder. I should really do more work with fresh paint. thanks for the reminder!

  • Leach Helen says:

    Liz, I have WN Naples Yellow Deep… wondering whether mixing with a bit of Buff Titanium will be a good alternate to the WN Naples Yellow?

    • Joy says:

      Funny i was about to comment on this. I use the deep color (sennelier version). I do lighten it with buff sometimes, but most of the people i “urged” to get the single pigment dark Naples dont use buff titanium and appreciate the white pre added. I am looking forward to Liz reply since she does use the buff.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Helen – thanks for the comment. I haven’t used NY Deep but will look into it

  • Valerie Lavine says:

    Love my RS Aquarius but find it goopy for travel. Seems like you’ve found work arounds: Tips?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Valerie, I don’t use Aquarius in the palette I carry around with me. But when I did using Aquarius paints (but not RS) during 2019 trip I didn’t have any problems.

  • PeAn Fu says:

    Do you have a tutorial or info how to remove the pan-holders from the original metal Box from Schmincke?

  • Michael Donnel says:

    I have the ArtToolkit folio as well. I like the ability to have all my colors with me all the time. What I don’t like after using it are issues with too shallow of pans. This causes intermingled colors, paint falling out, and the pans sliding out of place. I love the ability to configure it but I don’t feel I can get in the pans enough with bigger brushes when I use them.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Yes Michael. I also find the small pans fiddle to fill and use with my normal watercolour techniques.

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