Monday, July 06, 2015

My Watercolor Palette

Me and my watercolors (demonstrating in a class)
photo by Tina Larkin, Taos, New Mexico

Some of you have asked about my watercolor palette.  So here you are! Right now, my palette is both Daniel Smith and Winsor Newton. (I would not buy student grade watercolors in tubes, go for the professional grade ~ if necessary, just buy fewer quality tubes.) 

When I starting to learn watercolors, I could only afford the primary colors:

  • Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue or New Gamboge (golden yellow)
  • Alizarin Crimson (my go-to red)
  • French Ultramarine (my go-to deep blue)

If you can, I also suggest these two colors, for your basic palette: 

  • Burnt Umber (basic brown)
  • Sap Green (my go-to basic green)

In my palette, I also have these:

  • Hansa Yellow (lemony)
  • Cadmium Red Medium Hue (tomato red)
  • Opera Pink (magenta pink. You just can't mix this color and it's perfect for some flowers.)
And these are my recent additions to my palette:

  • Cobalt Teal Blue  or Cobalt Turquoise Light
  • Imperial Purple or Winsor Violet Dioxazine

When you get your tubes of paint, squeeze out a bit of each color into your palette and let them dry overnight. Then, whenever you use them, touch them with a bit of water, and the paint will reconstitute and be ready to use.

That's it. I don't change my palette for the season or locations.


  1. Hi Jane, thank you for this post, I won a voucher a while back and am hoping to possibly buy some Daniel Smith watercolours with it to replace my student ones, I'm on a bit of a budget so it's really helpful to know which primaries I might need, and which other colours might be useful :) Funnily enough cobalt teal and opera rose are colours I love and ones which I thought I'd definitely indulge in after I'd bought the basic colours :)

  2. Daniel Smith lists Alizarin Crimson and Opera Pink as Fugitive. Have you ever had problems with fading? Can you recommend lightfast substitutes of similar colors?

    1. No. I work mostly in my sketchbook and this is what I've used from years... Sorry.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jane, you always have great tips and ideas and you always share.

    1. I soooo appreciate your comments, Janie!!

  4. Forgive my ignorance: I bought the tubes and a palette, and then was unsure what to do. Do you squeeze them all out into the spaces in the palette, and let them dry out? (Basically making your own set of watercolors?)

    1. Excellent question! I just added that info to this blog post! thanks Susan!

  5. Hi Jane, what palette are you using?

    1. It's a metal one, from Daniel Smith, but they only carry their own products now, so I don't know where to find it anymore.

  6. Thanks so much! That's very helpful!

  7. Love everyone comments and Jane's replies. I learn from reading them. They are so helpful.


Thanks so much for visiting!

Related Posts with Thumbnails