What’s a curated palette? It might sound like something an art dealer would come up with, right? Nope. It’s YOUR palette. YOUR group of colors. It’s what helps define YOUR voice as an artist.

And you know what? That can change from time to time. Mine just did, and I want to share the excitement and the terror with you!

Tutorial

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Meet the 8 new colors

I’d like to introduce you to the new colors that have entered the scene – and say a fond and loving farewell to those who served me well but needed a period of retirement. I reserve the right to bring some back if I miss them!

 

Yellow changes

Aureolin sadly got the boot to make room for a yellow that bursts; if you’ve been watching me for a while, you know I love me some Nickel Azo and the way it breaks into its own song and dance when it meets wet pigment! But I have never liked the actual color of it by itself. 

I found a good substitute though, after testing out all the yellows I could find and seeing who played nice like NA. And it’s Indian Yellow! It’s got not only the playfulness but a nicer base color, and the ability to have a gentle value range too.

Remaining in the collection: Hansa Yellow Light, New Gamboge, Yellow Ochre.

 

Red changes

I’ve wrestled with reds for a while, even avoiding red subjects sometimes because of my dissatisfaction with how Anthraquinoid Scarlet sometimes dries. It’s not reliable for a strong red. So byebye to that as well as Permanent Alizarin Crimson, which I just don’t seem to use much at all.

Hellooooooo to new friends Pyrrol Crimson and Permanent Red Deep! Both are more staining, but are also more intense when painted, so I’m excited to try some of those red roses I’d avoided for a long time.

Remaining in the palette: Quinacridone Rose. And since Transparent Red Oxide is renting space in the reds, it stays too.

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Blue changes

Massive overhaul here! Going away are Cobalt Blue and Phthalo Blue Turquoise; yes I had a limited blue selection but that’s now changing!

Welcomed to the palette: French Ultramarine, which I’ve wanted to swap in for some time now, since SO many artists swear by it for mixing neutrals. I want to see what the fuss is all about because I’ve been doing that successfully with Cobalt for years.  French Ultramarine does have a bigger value range too, so I’ll be playing with that.

Also welcomed: Duochrome Cabo Blue. A duochrome has some shimmeryshiny properties which is nice, but also the ability to burst like Indian Yellow and Nickel Azo, so watch for playtime there.

 

And some fun: Verditer Blue was a class requirement some years back and while it was nice I just never paid attention to that tube. Which has now changed, because OH how perfect is this blue?

Turquoise change

I mentioned Phthalo Blue Turquoise making an exit….it’s described as perfect for oceans but I never found it to have quite a greenish turquoise feel to it. Pretty and intense, but too staining and too blue.

Meet Ultramarine Turquoise! This color has a wide value range, which can get overwhelming if overdone, but oh I love it for a soft wash.

 

Green change

Two exits: Green Gold is easily mixed with a yellow, and while I liked having it handy, I decided to vacate it to make room for the bonus Verditer blue. And I’ve noticed I haven’t used Green Apatite in quite some time so it was voted off the island.

Incoming in greens is Chromium Green Oxide, which I promise to regularly misname Chromium Oxide Green or other combinations of the three, ha! But I’m interested in what I’ll do with an opaque green, and playing with how it mixes with other colors too. I love the non-screamy and natural tone it brings to a painting.

Sticking around: Cascade Green and Sap Green.

 

Last but never least, my heroes

In the last section of my palette are my most and least used colors but all must stay until something else begs its way in. Payne’s Blue Gray is likely my most-used color! I use it to deepen colors; even if darkening with complements, a dash of PBG is often just what I need. A friend who was helping me with my paint color choices in my house even noticed it; she looked at my collection of framed paintings and asked “What’s that color? It’s your signature hue!” And it was a PBG sky.

Lunar Blue and Moonglow are simply some of the most wonderful granulators. If I need some granulation within another color, I can drop a little of one of these in and get that texture. Plus both have a HUGE value range and can create a lovely painting all by themselves!

So what’s in your palette?

How many colors are in your curated palette? Or have you yet to try curating one? Let me know in a comment, as well as what questions you have about setting one up….I’d love to help!

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4 Comments

  1. Deb Newman

    This was an immensely helpful video. I have been wanting to change my main palette for awhile. Talking us through the rationale for choosing colors was very helpful. Also the part about painting in context with our style rather than just swatching. I think this is going to be my next step with colors I already own but are not in my current palette and play with them then think about filling gaps that I have been sensing in my main palette of 18. Lots to think about, but excited to go paint and play with color which is my most favorite thing to do. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Barbara Scheihing

    Really enjoyed this video and since I have yet to really get cozy with the colors on my palette, it’s helpful to know I need to keep working it and experimenting….and I’ve been watercolor painting for a long while! I eliminated all my cadmiums years ago but miss cadmium red. I’d like to see you experiment with the red you added – permanent red deep -….so I would add as my pairing to that cobalt and hansa yellow deep to get different violets and oranges.

    One question I have is….I know the palette you bought is super expensive and I am so jealous!! lol….I bought a (much) cheaper version of a metal palette and I like it, considering….so the question is how did you change out your colors without messing up your beautiful pallet? I have a lot of color in my wells as you do also. Do you just try and use them up before you change it out or are you like me and very impatient and have to get that color out asap? lol I tend to use a Q-tip and get it out but just wanted to know if you had any tricks for that. Thank you and really appreciate your creativity and teaching! Very inspirational.

    Reply
    • Sandy Allnock

      Ha–i dug them out with a palette knife After trying to use them up. Usually watercolor blobs dry in a well-shaped blob so you could even baggie the old and label it in case you change your mind. I didn’t worry about the color underneath, because I was replacing a red with a red, etc. – there will be a tiny contamination if I ever get to the bottom but usually I refill before I get down to the dregs anyway.

      Reply
  3. Karen Zemko

    Ok I can’t offer any color combos as I rarely paint with watercolor. As a mostly acrylic artist (as a beginner) using bottled acrylics (I have about 450!) color mixing was not my jam! I learned more about mixing as I started using more oils. You really can’t mix bottled acrylics as they already contain several colors in them. I’ve learned a lot more about color and color theory from watching you. So thank you for that!

    Reply

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