Thursday, 11 July 2019

let's talk about : my watercolour palette

Watercolour palette, 2019

I've been hesitating to write an article listing the colours on my palette, even though folks have been asking for a long time. I didn't want to create a big shopping spree and lots of people out there with colours on their palette that they never use.

I honestly believe that it's possible to work with the paints you already have, provided that you have some good basics like a good choice of red, blue and yellow (a warm and a cool of each) and a couple of earth tones. My feeling is that it's best to experiment for quite a while with your current palette before you make new purchases. I haven't changed my palette too much over the years, and even now I sometimes have wonderful surprises with new shades I can create with paints I thought I knew inside out.

For me artist quality paper is a must. Artist quality paint doesn't make nearly as much difference. Having said that, truly cheap paints will be frustrating. And if you want lovely saturated colours then you'll find that harder to do with cheap paints. Finally, if you are selling your work, then you owe it to your clients to use paints that are not fugitive.

Artist quality paints aren't as expensive as you might think at first glance. Because they are so much more saturated, you use a lot less paint, so they last a lot longer. Some of my tubes are more than 15 years old and I paint a lot. Artist quality paints are expensive to experiment with, though, so one idea is to start with a cheaper set and as you run out of colours replace those you love with an artist quality brand. I'm still doing this.

My current palette has a mix of Winsor & Newton, MaimeriBlu and Daniel Smith paints. The first 2 mentioned are historical. They were the paints available in my little town when I first started painting in watercolours over 15 years ago. Now, as the WN paints run out I'm replacing them with DS colours. Why? The main reason is because the DS paints are vegan and I'm very keen for all my art supplies to now be ethical.

My advice would be to buy tubes paints rather than pans. These wet much easier and you can create big puddle of colour really easily. Squeeze a dollop of colour into each well on your palette, let it dry overnight and you're ready to carry it around. Just before you start painting, spritz your paints with a little water and they're ready to go.

Finally, before we get to the list you're all waiting for, you'll notice I use almost entirely transparent colours. These are the biz, I reckon. The true beauty of painting in watercolour over any other medium is in the transparency. Let the light of the paper shine through, and you'll avoid the muddy look we all shudder at!

Yip! It's messy 😉


Taaadaaa!

The lists 

(see the photo at the top for the key of brands)


Paints I can't live without...
Cerulean Blue
Cobalt Blue Hue
Payne's Grey
Permanent Violet
Green Gold
Sap Green
Pyrrol Orange
Quinacridone Gold
Hansa Yellow Medium
Cadmium Yellow Light
Burnt Umber
Burnt Sienna
Monte Amiata Natural Sienna

Others I use less often, but I'm very happy to have in specific situations...
Cobalt Blue Teal
Moonglow
Winsor Green
Crimson Lake
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Dragon's Blood
Quinacridone Gold

Others I pretty much never touch, but they're on my palette until they run out. Or I have a happy  surprise and they move up the ranks. Haha!
Ultramarine Blue
Intense Blue
Prussian Blue
Pthalo Green
Permanent Rose

You'll notice my palette has empty slots and it will probably soon have more when those last 5 paints run out. Really, you don't need that many colours to paint pretty much anything and more choice can just be confusing. Better to know a few paints well.

And, yes, I have 2 palettes. A little one for hiking and the bigger one for using in my studio or for outside sketching when I don't need to walk too far. Both are filled with dried tube paints.

Of course, the next questions are probably why I chose these hues, how I mix them, how to paint greens (every artist seems to be obsessed with that question), how I make my paintings so bright and saturated and how I avoid mud. Every blog post leads to another! So stay tuned.

Any questions, please drop them below, or find me on Facebook or Instagram.

Have a super colourful day!