March 13, 2017

Custom Watercolor Palette

I recently got to spend some time with my watercolor swatches, and create a custom palette for a friend. She wanted one go-to artist grade palette, with bright colors and some neutrals. With those guidelines, I went to my paints, and came up with this palette.
A word of caution-
As someone who spends way too much time online searching for that perfect paint, that elusive brilliant color combination, and other people's choices of their favorite colors, this is a question of taste and personal preferences. So please, if you love browns, paint only landscapes, this is probably the wrong palette for you, not because you can't mix gorgeous natural looking colors and endless shades of brown from it, but because it would take you longer, and just won't make sense. What I'm trying to say, is that while I did take under account versatility as a major factor for choosing these particular shades, I also chose colors based on my personal preferences. I tend to like my watercolors bright, vivid, transparent, I'm obsessed with pinks and teals, and prefer my neutrals on the grey-blue (as opposed to brown) side. 
Also, while I did my best to adjust the colors in the photos to be as true to the colors in real life, it's not 100% accurate, and screen differ from one another. Fluorescent colors, like Daniel Smith's Opera, just don't translate to photos the way they are in reality. Opera is much lighter and more fluorescent in reality than it appears in the photo.
Enough talking, here are the photos of the chosen 26, they fit snugly in  a 24 metal half pan box (and one could add more pans between the rows).
Continue reading for information about each of the colors I chose (with affiliate links at the bottom of the post).

Starting from the top photo, top row, from left to right (pigments in brackets)-

Schmincke Lemon Yellow (PY3)- Semi-transparent. Standard color that can be found in any brand of artist grade watercolors. This is blue biased yellow. Use it with any green, turoquoise and yellow biased blues (like Phthalo blue) to mix bright vivid greens. When mixed with redish blues like ultramarine the result is more natural greens. Mix it with reds and pinks for natural looking oranges. I haven't found much differences from brand to brand. I currently use in my palette Sennelier's Lemon Yellow as I prefer a transparent color.

Daniel Smith New Gamboge (PY97, PY110)- transparent, non granulating, low staining. Every versatile palette needs a red biased yellow (a warmer yellow), and the choice was made here based on my personal taste and preference. There are many lovely warm yellows, but Daniel Smiths' New Gamboge is such a gorgeous color I had to include it. I also like Sennelier's Indian Yellow (transparent made from PY154, PY153). If you like a more opaque yellow, The new Schmincke Turner's yellow is lovely (PY216), as is Daniel Smith's Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue (PY53, PY151, PY83).

Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold (PY49)- transparent, granulating, non staining. I love this earthy color. It's a transparent alternative to ochre yellow (although Daniel Smith and Schmincke have just come out with transparent yellow ochre). It's wonderful for mixing natural greens, and is just a gorgeous color on its own. 

Qor Transparent Pyrrole Orange (PO71)- This is more a convenience color, as orange can obviously be mixed using yellow and red/pink. However, this orange is beautiful, and nothing wrong with some convenience in life ;) I love using Qor paints with other brands, because the Qor ones push the other paints away, which creates lovely effects. Schmincke's translucent Orange is almost identical. 

Daniel Smith Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet (PR206)- Transparent, non granulating, low staining. From the Daniel Smith website- This slightly sedimentary rich dark red-brown could lighten, brighten and eliminate mud browns in all your paintings. I chose it as an alternative to the classic burnt sienna. It creates beautiful neutrals when mixed with ultramarine blue.

Shinhan Bright Rose (BR12)- This is one of my current color crushes. Because I made this palette from my stash, I had to substitute some paints that I was running low on. I got this one to see if it would resemble my Holbein Bright Rose. It's very very close. I still like Holbein a little better. The pigments are acutally different. Holbein's is made of BV11:1, AB83. Shinhan's is cheaper.

Qor Quinacridone Magenta (PR122)- transparent, staining and gorgeous. This is, in my opinion, a staple color. Makes beautiful violets and purples when mixed with any blue and lovely oranges.

Mijello Mission Gold Permanent Rose (PV19)- A lovely pink. What can I say? I love pinks! This one is more reddish than Magenta.

Daniel Smith Quinacridone Coral (PR209)- Transparent and gorgeous. This is one of my favorite reds in my palette, and I prefer it to post box reds (just my personal preference). There are almost identical or similar versions of this color in most brands, but the names are different. Sennelier's Quin. Red is almost identical (but a touch less vivid).

Qor Pyrrole Red Light (PR255)- a yellow biased red. Makes vivid oranges when mixed with warm yellows and muted purples when mixed with blue. Use it to neutralize teal and turquoise.
Daniel Smith Quinacridone Coral (PR209)- transparent gorgeous color. It's in the palette because I love it. Check the pigments in each brand, because the names vary. Sennelier's version is called quinacridone red.

Daniel Smith Opera (PR122)- This fluorescent fugitive pink is hugely popular. I rarely use it in pure form, but it is amazing for mixing colors. It makes the most luminous corals, reds, violets and beautiful semi neutrals when mixed with greens. I have this color in several brands (Mission Gold Bright Opera and Holbein's Opera are similar to DS, Winsor & Newton's Opera Rose is a touch less bright but beautiful) and they are all quite similar. I've recently purchased some Shinhan Pass paints, which is supposed to be a hybrid gouache-watercolor paint (more on that in future posts), and their version of Opera is VERY intense when used in full strength. The Shinhan Pass paint comes in a 20ml tube, and costs a fraction of Daniel Smith's version. 

Shinhan Pass Red Violet (PR81 BV11)- Even though this paint is different than traditional watercolors (it's marketed as hybrid gouache watercolor paint, depending on how diluted it is), I had to include it. It's too fun. Brighter than any of my watercolors in similar shades, it is just gorgeous with a huge variety of shades and intensity.

Daniel Smith Mayan Violet (PV58)- Beautiful transparent, granulating, slightly muted violet. Convenience color (meaning it can be mixed using other colors), but oh so pretty.

Daniel Smith Quinacridone Purple (PV55)- This one looks brighter in the photo than in real life. It's a lovely purple. Creates great neutrals with Lemon Yellow. The Schmincke version is almost identical.

Qor Dioxazine Purple (PV23)- Another convenience color. A popular purple. It's on the blue side. Daniel Smith's version is called Carbazole Violet. Sennelier's version is almost identical. My personal favorite (which I didn't have a tube of, so couldn't include in this palette) is Old Holland Dioxazine Mauve, which is a touch less blue. But I love how Qor paints push aside other brands, so wanted to include a few in this palette.
Daniel Smith Moonglow ( PG18 PB29 PR177 )- Transparent, granulating, low staining. It's a mixture of 3 pigments, and is a really interesting and very popular color. From the Daniel Smith website- 'Water frees this amazing three-pigment blend to perform miracles. Watch and wait as Anthraquinoid Red floats, Ultramarine Blue settles and Viridian grays the resulting violet color. Selectively blot and lift a surface wash to expose delicate blue-greens. A description of the fascinating light and dark washes can never match a personal experience!'. Couldn't have said it better myself. Obviously if you have those three pigments in your palette you can mix your own version, but having this color in my palette is convenient and fun!
Mijello Mission Gold Sepia (PBr7 PBk7)- Even though I try to avoid using colors with black in them, this neutral is still lovely. A grayish brown. Sepia is a classes earth tone in palettes, but the color varies greatly from brand to brand. I'd consider replacing this with Schmincke's Neutral Tint (PR122 PB60 PBk7), which doesn't have brown in it, is less transparent than the MG sepia, but is a beautiful shade of gray (brown? purple? I can't exactly characterize it...).
Schmincke Payne's Grey (PR101 PB29 PBk7)- A popular color in palettes. One can easily mix it and get beautiful color without using black, but it is convenient to have it, and is also useful for mixing colors or toning down bright colors (although I find I mostly use complementary colors to do that these days over grey). I like the Schmincke version, Sennelier's and St. Petersburg White Nights are practically identical. Schmincke also has a blueish version that I considered adding to this palette, but because of having Indigo in the palette, I decided to go with this one.
Schmincke Indigo (PB15:1 PB66)- I love Schmincke's version of indigo above all the others I've tried. It doesn't have black in it, and is a deep gorgeous muted blue.
Ken Bromley's French Ultramarine (PB29)- French Ultramarine or Ultramarine Blue is probably a part of every single watercolor palette... A lovely red biased blue, it is transparent, non staining and granulating. Ken Bromley is an online art supplies store based in the UK, and this is their house brand of very affordable paints. This one is lovely. I also have a half pan of Sennelier's deep ultramarine that is also lovely, as well as the Qor version. With artist grade paints it's hard to go wrong with this one. My brightest version is actually White Nights, but I only find those in full pan size, so it doesn't fit my regular palette. If I could find it in a tube, I'd probably use that one.

Mijello Mission Gold Viridian (PG7)- I don't buy a lot of greens, but it's nice to have a few in one's palette for convenience. Phthalo green is a good choice, a vivid blueish green. Mission Gold named this color Viridian, but the pigment is also known as phthalo green.

Daniel Smith Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50)- one of my favorite colors in my palette. If you love teal, this is a must have. Every brand has their own version of this color, using PG50 or other pigments in less expensive paints. I have yet to find one I don't like. I have this pigment in M. Graham's, Schmincke's, Qor's and Sennelier's versions, and they all differ slightly in shade and level of granulation, but all beautiful.

Daniel Smith Phthalo Turquoise (PB15 PG36)- staining, transparent and intense turquoise. This one is also a convenience color, but it's so gorgeous. I love having a deep turquoise on my palette. If you want a similar granulation color, try Daniel Smith's Ultramarine Turquoise.

Daniel Smith Phthalo Blue GS (PB15)- From the Daniel Smith website-'For cool, clean staining shadows and reflected light on windows. Super staining, super transparent Phthalo Blue is a popular pure chroma organic pigment. Mix with Hansa Yellow for luminous greens.' This is a popular color in many palettes.

M. Graham Cobalt Blue (PB28)- A beautiful blue, it's somewhere between ultramarine blue and phthalo blue on the color wheel. A good choice for a primary blue, the M. Graham version has lovely granulation. It's non staining so would work great for skies and lifting techniques. Love this one.

Mijello Mission Gold Sap Green (PY150 PG36)- Another convenience color, it's a popular green to have. I like the mission gold version, as it's very bright and on the yellow side.

It wasn't easy, and many good choices were left out of this palette... But I couldn't include all the colors... Sadly... I'm sure this palette will bring much joy to its recipient!

Links to the supplies mentioned-
Daniel Smith Watercolors on
Daniel Smith Watercolors at Jackson's Art Supplies

M. Graham Watercolors on

Mijello Mission Gold 36 set on 

Schmincke Watercolors on
Schmincke Watercolors at Jackson's Art Supplies 

Qor Watercolor Sets on
Qor Watercolor Sets at Jackson's Art Supplies

Shinhan Pass Hybrid paints on
Shinhan Pass Hybrid paints at Jackson's Art Supplies

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