Removing Sap Green from my palette

January 21, 2022 | 19 Comments

I haven’t been happy with Sap Green in my palette for a long time. I like to have a ready-to-go green especially when I’m working quickly and Sap Green has been the best tube green that I’ve tried. See this article for more about why I’ve included it in my palette for many years.

Last March I did a few experiments planning to replace Sap Green with a pre-mix of yellow and blue (refer to this article) but I obviously got distracted and never ended up making a decision. Last week as I was creating ‘mixing pages’ for my Foundations palette I realised that I should simply replace Sap Green with the mix that I use all the time.

So here is a pan of Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Medium and Schmincke French Ultramarine.

At the time of mixing it, I didn’t record the ratio of the yellow to the blue (sorry!) but you can see that I added a little additional blue at the right end of the pan in case I want to adjust it.

So far so good!

I’m really really happy with this decision – the hue is similar to Sap Green but oh, the pigment party is totally off the scale. An additional bonus is that I’m not needing to dip into my yellow as much now, so the HYM half-pan dedicated to mixing greens is much cleaner. 🙂

I really don’t know why it took me so long to do this – it was a total no-brainer!


  • mlaiuppa says:

    I’ve never had Sap Green in my palette. But when I am using an expanded palette, I do have Daniel Smith primateks: Serpentine, Green Apatite and Jadeite. Sometimes when I mix on the page I’ll use Quin Gold (the old formula) and then wash Ultra Blue into it.

  • Kimberly Ester says:

    I have been fussing about what to do with sap green also. I love the color and the ease of use, especially out on location, but don’t like that it has 3 pigments. I’m excited by your post and what you’ve done. I have never thought of premixing the colors in the pan! I love that it has two exciting benefits, the pigment party and a cleaner yellow. I use French Ultramarine Blue WN, so different than yours, but think I will give mixing a pan a go too. I remember when I used to mix my blue and yellows for green, I loved the results, just not all the work. Brilliant Liz!

  • I took DS sap green out of my palette couple of years ago. I just kept mixing all my greens from yellow/gold and blue. Recently I’ve added back a green – DS green gold. Same as you, I use less yellow now.

  • I have never found sap green to be particularly useful or attractive in a mostly unmixed state. However, I do use it to modulate reds… Especially cadmiums. I don’t keep any neutrals or earthtones on my palette at all as I prefer to mix them myself. Sap green comes in handy in that particular regard.

  • Fiona Campbell says:

    This is very interesting ?. Recently I was making up a small winter palette for cold day sketching and found my initial selection unsatisfactory! You posted your Foundations 6 and I thought I’d go with those ( but I ended up sneaking in Cobalt turquoise, Potters Pink and Delft Blue as well). I found that mixing my greens from Hansa Yelliw Medium, Cerulean Blue Chromium & French Ultra was soooo much more versatile and interesting. Thanks for your really helpful posts on this !!

  • Terry James says:

    Liz, along this line…I love using HYM for mixing greens and oranges, but having Naples Yellow as the 2nd yellow in my 12 color pallette doesn’t seem to add much “mixing” value.

    What are your thoughts on a replacement 2nd yellow that would be more mix-worty than NY?

    • Anna says:

      Hey Terry, I use Quinacridone Gold as the „dark yellow“, and it does a really great job for that purpose in my use. It is part of DS Sap Green, anyway, and mixes beautiful green hues with blues and green partners. I also have a lemon yellow hue for even further green mixes. Kind regards, Anna

      • Terry James says:

        Thanks for that Anna! I have QG in my pallette and will focus on using it as a mixer to see what happens!

  • Jamie C says:

    The pigment party in that sample really is fabulous! I’ll bet the foliage you paint will really come alive. Such a convenient way to have green, but mix it yourself first, in the pan! Have you done a page on why you’ve gone with Schminke French Ultramarine, versus the other brands, or Ultramarine?

    • Jamie C says:

      I answered my own question by finding your search bar! You’ve got at least three great articles on just my question, and more besides! I do so love your blog!

  • Alan Barbour says:

    Another watercolourist whom I follow, Alan Owen, a couple of days ago showed what one could do with French Ultramarine and lemon yellow, maybe supplemented with a couple of other pigments, and am going to be experimenting with that combination. I never could quite figure out what to do with Lemon Yellow so set it aside. I replaced Hansa Yellow with Aureolin in my palette a while back. The idea of a premixed green base to decrease dabbling in the yellow sounds good. I have been using all pan colours, but when I start running low I might change to tubes, but with the amount of painting I do, convenience outweighs economy.

  • Mona Kwon says:

    Hi Liz, I ended doing the same (except with W&N FU) after taking your Watercolours course! All that pigment experimentation really helped, so thank you! I never get the ratio consistent but since I have HYM and FU in their own pans in the same palette, I just adjust as I go.

  • I love this idea of having a personally pre-mixed green in your palette. I think I may try that, instead of my DV or DS Sap Green. I also use DS Serpentine as a single pigment green, but it’s pretty pricey and this would go a lot longer.

  • Katie Kruger says:

    I found this fascinating and exciting when I first read it, Liz. But your ‘My Current Palette’ still shows Sap Green and I’m wondering if you are going to ‘official’ update that page. Please keep us posted if you are still using this new mix and if you will make an update to your current Palette page. Thanks!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Katie- I’m still deciding on Manganese Blue Hue so I’m not ready to do an update yet. Also one of my palettes still has Sap Green in it so it has not been totally removed.

      But thanks so much for the prompt!!! I’ve just added a note on the Current Palette page.

  • Brilliant! For years I’ve been using Green Apatite instead of Sap Green but I may try this instead when the tube is gone.
    There are several colors that I sometimes wish to take along for convenience sake, but just don’t use enough of to warrant buying a tube (like an orange or violet). I’m mixing my own pans more and more.

  • Rebecca Van Meter says:

    I just added Steel Green to my palette! I’d never had French Ultramarine in my palette, so I purchased Schmincke French Ultramarine and mixed the Steel Green (aka BEST Sap Green) with Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Medium! Such a beautiful green! Of course, I’ll have to name it after you!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Rebecca! Ah! I didn’t think that it needed a name! 🙂 Glad you are liking it as much as I do! Will never go back to Sap Green now!

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