Tools: New Watercolor Palette Arrangements

I’ve been a little depressed lately. Okay, a LOT depressed, some for “good” reasons (family issues) but some because I-don’t-know.

I cleaned my palettes, and finally added a couple of new colors.  Left, in my primary palette, and I added Sennelier Transparent Brown and Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon… I don’t remember what I dropped but it became part of my secondary palette, below.

I LOVE Sennelier Transparent Brown!

Note two of Daniel Smith Primateks are in this palette, as I use them every day: Amazonite (a turquoise mineral) and Diopside (a green mineral).  If you want to try a Primatek, try one of these!  More Primateks are in another palette, below.

I sent away for new
palettes in the longer
shape, which I like
better than the square shape
shown right, because of how it
sits on the side of my bed
— where I do more painting

I’ll fill this smaller palette to slip into my purse for sketching outside.

I’m a watercolor junkie, I love trying new colors.  Premixed greens are a favorite.

I used to buy new paints because I didn’t know what I liked.  Now I know a lot more about what I prefer (transparent colors) and about brands (favorites are Daniel Smith, Holbein, and Sennelier).  I sometimes try small maker brands, like JazperStardust or Greenleaf & Blueberry, though I have had bad experiences.

The biggest aha for me was finding Handprint several years ago (more specific page links at bottom).  I was overwhelmed at first, but I wanted the information so began reading and paying attention.  Bruce MacEvoy’s articles helped me to understand Color Indexing, which is a nomenclature you see on the tubes, such as PY108 or PR122, pigments, and how watercolors were made.  Now I can choose when to buy the same color in a different brand under a different name, if, for instance, I like a color but not the brand, examples below.

Also, two interesting diagrams from Bruce MacEvoy (below) which took me awhile to understand but then became invaluable when I was buying paint online.  To get a large pdf version of the color wheel, left, go here.  For the large pdf of the value diagram, right, click here.

For example, above, three brands using the name “Indian Yellow” — all different in color.  Notice the Daniel Smith and M.Graham versions are single pigment colors, while DaVinci’s version has four pigments in the mix.  (Why?  I don’t know!)  In this case I personally like the M.Graham color best, though typically they are not my favorite brand.  I purchase the color I like visually.  Before I purchase a $10-25 tube in a color now, I put the name into the internet and search for images from artists.  In this instance I prefer M.Graham, a single pigment hue I like a lot created from Isoindolinone Yellow, over the other two Indian Yellows.  (PS: Daniel Smith’s new Indian Yellow is quite different.)

Color indexing is usually written on the paint tubes backside, where you will often see the pigment names (like Quinacridone Magenta on the “Opera Pink” above), the color index (such as PR 122 on the Opera Pink above), the vehicle (gum arabic), and more.  Also, I like it best when paint companies use the actual pigment names for single pigment paints, so I prefer Quinacridone Magenta over Opera Pink.

Above I’ve shown you six tubes of watercolor paint and the flip sides, above, where most have their information listed.  Don’t buy brands that don’t list the info — they are likely student brands and not what you want.  Also, spend the extra $ to buy professional not student paint whenever possible.   It is discouraging not to work with deep juicy washes, and often it comes down to cheaper student paints.

Exceptions are made for
specialty paints like
Daniel Smith’s Primateks,
as these are ground from
stones, like Piemonite,
shown above.

I have three more palettes
that sit by the bed now.
Left, most of this palette are Primateks.  I love these
colors — I use them in so
many applications.

Right, I built this palette because I find myself painting the cats so often.  I placed all the the colors I reach for when painting the: Yaman, “black” (not quite); Savitri, Siamese; and Gibbs and Izzee, both grey tabbies.  Pink noses, greenish eyes can be mixed, and with white and a rotating color the palette is perfect!  (See below.)
Left, a catchall palette of colors I love but don’t reach for all the time.

I hope I didn’t bore you… there is so much more but this is a post about my new palettes, remember, so I tried to keep the digressions to a minimum!

References or good reads:  (So many topics to explore!)   (Watercolors)  (How watercolors are made)  (tonal values)

I subscribe to the “Just Paint” ( from Golden Artists Colors.  I luckily found golden early in my acrylics career and they are hands-down the best acrylic paints.  SUBSCRIBE!  is an example of a page worth reading….

The Society of Dyers and Colourists (UK) serves as the international clearing house for commercial pigment information, as publisher of the standard pigment color index names, and as a registry for commercial pigment manufacturers of every pigment or dye.  Prepare to be overwhelmed…  Seriously.

The Color Online Course, very interesting lists, but overwhelming.

Daniel Smith Primateks, a page with videos on the entire line.

WoodwardAndFather Pan Packs:  I love these mixing areas.  I started with the Limited Palette Pan Pack, shown right (sold without the container), and after using them asked if they would do a set of the sizes I actually wanted.  I like the larger pans which fit perfectly in the palettes I love the most.  I can create a large juicy mix that will cover a lot of pages in a journal.  They really came in handy when I was mixing colors for Luis Barragán.  I use the others for tiny mixes of which I won’t use as much, and you can see them in use in the images above.

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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
This entry was posted in art journal, color, creativity, drawing, journal, painting, process, sketchbook, watercolor, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tools: New Watercolor Palette Arrangements

  1. lois says:

    Kate–your posts are packed with so much information. I, for one, appreciate it. That and all the testing you do. The paint companies should put you on retainer!


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