Favourite French Ultramarine mixes

December 22, 2023 | 4 Comments

When I shared my most used watercolour paints last week, several people asked me why I use Schmincke French Ultramarine. The one-line answer is that it creates the most incredible ‘pigment parties’ when I mix it with other paints in my palette.

I’ve previously compared it with some other brands – refer here for that article – so I thought it would be good to do some mixing strips. It was a chance for me to revisit the combos that I typically create using SCH French Ultramarine. (More Ultramarine articles here.)

Here are scans of my mixing strips…

A few thoughts as a result of this mixing session:

  1. I’ve recently been trialling Hansa Yellow Light (HYL) as one of my yellows (I typically split Hansa Yellow Medium (HYM) into two pans – I use one for greens and one for oranges). I’m not convinced that there is much point in using HYL. Yes, it’s a cooler yellow and mixes lighter greens… but do I really need that? It doesn’t seem to create as exciting pigment parties as HYM.
  2. I’ve also been using Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet (QBS) for the last year or so (see here for more about why). Although I love Transparent Red Oxide(TRO) at times it can be a bit heavy. I’ve been thinking to myself ‘What happens if I replace it totally with QBS?’ I’m still not convinced that I can live without TRO but doing these swatches made me realise that I should be using Transparent Pyrrol Orange more often!
  3. These mixing strips are such a good way to remind me why I love watercolour so much! It’s all about ‘pigment parties’. BTW this is a term that I will explain in detail inside the Live Version of my Watercolour course. Find out more here.

I don’t necessarily have definitive answers to points 1 and 2 but… ah! There is nothing quite like a bit of watercolour mixing to create a quiet moment during a busy day.

Christmas has certainly snuck up on me this year… I haven’t been near a Christmas tree (they are such a fun subject to sketch) and haven’t got anything remotely festive in my sketchbook. 

I’ve got some fun times planned with family and friends in the coming days and I’m not sure what my blog article schedule will be next week. So I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas – I hope you have a wonderful festive season however you celebrate it!


  • Suzanne says:

    Happy Christmas Liz .. thanks for your newsy blog and emails during the year. Enjoy a break

  • Jamie C says:

    I’ve switched to the Schminke French Ultramarine for that same gorgeous granulation, too. I use Hansa Yellow Light much more than Medium and prefer it. However my environment favors that brighter, yellow and I can see why it doesn’t do as much where you are. Now I may have to dig out my Quin Burnt Scarlet to play with it. I think I read that Daniel Smith is cutting out a lot of their Quin line? Might need to stock up while I can! Lol!

    Happy Holidays and enjoy your family and friends time!

  • John Hopkirk says:

    It seems that TPO does a simile job as QBS they both turn a more burnt when mixed with FUBlue without having to add another colour to your box anyway thanks for the mixes and have a great family day tomorrow Liz.
    Ive been following your site for many years.

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