I have been wanting to put together a very basic palette together for ages…and well finally here it is. I have listed the paints in my daily palette in my current tools section and discussed all the principles behind my basic palette of 12 colours that I use for my local classes.
But this is even paired down to 3,4 or 6 Daniel Smith paints and I have also found alternatives in Winsor & Newton and Schmincke.
The advice to “buy the best quality materials you can afford at the time” is very sound. When it comes to watercolour, the quality of the paints you use has a HUGE impact on what you can do from Day 1. Therefore spending money buying a few artist quality tubes of paint early on is certainly worth it (if you can afford it – I am VERY much aware of many of my readers that have very tight budgets and as always, my advice is, do what you can!)
Disclaimer why my very basic set is 6 not 3 colours:
I am not a huge fan of only using 3 colours for on location sketching. You have to know your paints SO well and put a lot of homework time in working out exactly how to mix the colour you want (the right proportions and order of paint) or else you spend more time mixing than painting! Not to mention the danger of over-mixed washes and getting your water very dirty very quickly. I also miss the granulation of certain pigments. For me, using watercolour is more about pigments suspended in water than it is about mixing colour.
And ok… I know, I can’t count. Yes…there are 7 tubes there. That is because there is an option for the burnt sienna selection!
The idea behind this selection is
– a vibrant lightfast transparent primary triad
– burnt sienna to relieve some of the mixing for earth colours and grey (colours I use a lot)
– two additional very useful colours that form an ‘earth’ triad. Cerulean Blue and a Raw Sienna.
So you could choose only
1-3 and have a primary triad,
or 1-4 with the addition of burnt sienna,
or all 6 colours.
I have included some common mixes on the side. You will not be able to mix every hue with these paints but they form a very solid basis for any palette. But you can always add more to suit your personal preference.
UPDATE: I no longer use DS Burnt Sienna
Listing the colours
1. Hansa Yellow Medium
2. Quinacridone Rose
3. Ultramarine Blue – I use this one not French Ultramarine
4. Burnt Sienna – experienced watercolour users might like to try Transparent Red Oxide. See this post for more details
5. Cerulean Blue Chromium – this is a brighter version of cerulean and perfect for Australian light and sky. I do not recommend the DS Cerulean Blue as it is too weak. The WN version(below) might be more suitable for people in northern hemisphere
6. Monte Amiata Natural Sienna – a lovely transparent single pigment alternative to raw sienna.
And here are two alternatives in Winsor & Newton and Schminke.
Please note: I have used these WN colours in the past but the Schmincke selection have been tested in the studio only – I do plan to make a little set and test it out on location.
Winsor & Newton
1. Winsor Yellow
2. Permanent Rose
3. French Ultramarine
4. Burnt Sienna
5. Cerulean Blue
6. Raw Sienna- this is not a single pigment colour but is preferred over yellow ochre which is opaque
1. Pure Yellow
2. Ruby Red
3. Ultramarine Finest
4. Translucent Brown
5. Cobalt Cerulean Blue
6. Raw Sienna – same note as above: this is not a single pigment colour but is preferred over yellow ochre which is opaque
I hope you appreciate my attempt at neat colour charts!!!?! This photo shows the way I was testing the colours earlier in the day. Random brush strokes, splashing, varying water ratio etc etc. Having fun playing with paint …these pages summarise my findings in a sharable format.
Finally: for SketchingNowers.
These paints are NOT a requirement for the Foundations course! There is absolutely no need for you to go out and buy new paints – it is not going to be a ‘how to watercolour’ course. But for the art supply junkies that are desperate for new goodies… this is the selection. Full materials list will be emailed in the next few days.
SketchingNow Online Sketching Courses:
Subscribe to my mailing list for my monthly newsletters