Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Favorite Palette

I have meant to post more about my current favorite watercolor palette. Daniel Smith was wicked and no longer has the set listed on their website. So I will post the info here. Here's their color wheel and blending chart on the mixing set.

The 10 color set is:
  • Hansa yellow medium
  • Perinone orange
  • Rhodonite genuine (like alizarin crimson)
  • Imperial purple
  • Ultramraine blue
  • Manganese blue hue (very much like cerulean blue)
  • Amazonite genuine
  • Permanent green light
  • Quinacridone gold (similar to raw sienna but brighter)
  • Quinacridone burnt orange (vibrant substitute for burnt sienna)
These 10 colors can give you just about any color you could want. For my custom palette I have added the following:
  • Green gold (my staple color I can't live without for dresses and birds)
  • Cadium red medium (staple for lip and red gloves)
  • Iridescent gold (to layer over for sparkle)
  • Moonglow (a muted violet that is great for shadows)
  • Burnt umber (I'm lazy and don't like mixing browns which I use a lot in my horses & hair)
  • Sepia (same comment as for burnt umber)
  • Lunar black or Lunar violet when I need to add a black line and don't use a pen
I've really paired down my color palette. I have probably over 100 tubes bought over the years. I have all sorts of brands but just recently started buying some cool different colors (their "Quinacridone" colors) from Daniel Smith and I now just love them.

You can see that I struggle with what colors to use for my work. To the left is one of my original palettes. I bought a metal palette box and put in my own colors. It is big, heavy and cluggy - OK for the studio. Then I bought the new set described above after much agonizing (why do I need ANY more colors?!?!?). I've never regretted the additional investment! I love them so much I have been "pushing" them on friends. As a Christmas present I made up a palette for a friend. OK - I'm not completely awful - I also included traditional colors since it was a 24 pan palette. Now, for my travel palette that went to Scotland with me...


I had a smaller plastic lightweight palette that I loaded with my colors that went to Scotland with me. But I have to admit I missed my "little" set that I routinely have with me at all times. The new set is nice in that it is very lightweight and has lots of room for mixing. But I can easily mix on a piece of scrap paper so if I'm tight on space I'd go with the smallest possible palette. So I started thinking about this on one of my long drives and came up with a solution. I have a number of travel Windsor Newton pan watercolors. The one that lives in my purse is very small: 4.75" x 2.45" (smaller than a small Moleskine journal). I found it in Scotland. But I've fallen so in love with my Daniel Smith colors I "kicked" out the Windsor colors and made a custom travel set. Since it only holds 12 colors I used the "original 10" and the green gold and cadium red medium. I snuck in a few colors along the tough designed to hold a brush. So now I have my favorite colors in my little travel kit.

There are many books that discuss color mixing. My favorite is "Yellow & Blue Don't Make Green". It really explained why I was such a failure at color mixing. Although, as I have mentioned in my posts on my first Claudine Helmuth workshop - I didn't learn to mix colors until she taught her method. It is fantastic and I can't wait until she puts it one of her videos. Claudine is an amazing artist, teacher and person!! I know I've said it before, but if you ever get a chance to take one of her workshops DO IT!!! It is worth every penny!!

Disclaimer: please note that I am not a real watercolor artist and my color mixing abilities are pitiful to those who are! I just want to share my perspective as a beginner which may be useful to those who find watercolors intimidating. I did! I have on my list of intentions that I want to take more watercolor classes. There is so much to learn. And although I will never be a "serious" landscape watercolorist, there is much to learn and apply to my cartoons. I never tire of learning!!

1 comment:

kerrip said...

Thanks for sharing this Debbie. From someone who doesn't do anything in such an organized fashion, this is wonderful.