Selecting colors for my new palette took much longer than I ever imagined it would. The top priority was to have a range of pigments with a wide variety of various properties.

This color chart shows the range of value of each color, with the names listed of each color as well as the pigment used to make the color. (Compared to the full pix of the palette shown in the previous post, this list starts with the third color in on the top to the right and goes around counter clockwise.)

Double click on the chart to see the colors up close, and you'll notice the sedimentary qualities of several of the colors. Effort was made to cause blossoms on each damp paint strip, and many of the sedimentary colors resisted producing that effect.

Things that had to be considered for my palette included these specifics ---

1. Staining or lifting quality of the pigment - needed both, but not too many strong stainers

2. Transparent, semi transparent, or opaque quality of the pigment - plenty of transparent ones important with just a few truly opaque ones needed

3. Sedimentary and granulating feature versus clear, smooth texture - LOVE the effects that granulating colors add and tend to go overboard in selecting them, but needed clear, smooth ones to complement them, too

4. Toxicity of the pigment - wanted a non toxic palette but had to include Cobalt Violet Deep because it's so useful and beautiful in so many ways

5. Value range of the pigment - needed some very strong darks

6. Permanency of the pigment - no fugitive or fading colors allowed even if I'm in love with the color... no Opera or old Alizaron Crimson, not even Auerolin or Rose Madder

7. Pure pigment versus mixture of pigments - wanted only pure pigments but did add Ultramarine Turquoise which is a blend of French Ultramarine and Phthalo Green... Seldom ever use those two colors so the mixture in one tube was great - plus I love the hue

8. Ease of mix ability with other pigments - Most colors play well together.... but some don't

9. Range of hues within each color family - needed a warmer blue & a cooler blue, a warmer red & a cooler red, etc.

10. Personal preferences for colors - the easiest decision to make

11. Quality of paint - tried many brands and found considerable differences in quality of pigment load and binders. Stayed with all Daniel Smith paints for this palette because of intensity of color and price value.

12. Versatility of the pigment - some pigments produce special effects more readily than others, like making backruns or blossoms or responding to 'salt' on the wet paint, etc.

To the left of each color name in the chart above is the actual pigment in that particular color - Hansa yellow is made of Pigment Yellow 97 - PY97; Lunar Earth is made of Pigment Brown 11 - PBr11, and so on. Each manufacturer labels their paints with their own names - hence Phthalo Blue might be called Winsor blue or Joe's Blue depending on who's making it. Knowing the actual pigment ingredient in the colors helps prevent duplicating colors.

This new palette is porcelain, made by Cheap Joe's, and so far I really like it. It's very heavy, especially now that it's full of paint. The puddles of color in the mixing areas stay put and don't bead up like they do on plastic palettes. And I like the feel of the brush on solid mixing surface, which easily cleans up and doesn't seem to stain at all. None of that will make me paint better. It's just what I noticed about the palette that I liked.

Every artist develops personal color choices, and the ones shown above are just my preferences of which colors I want to paint with right now. Daniel Smith paints have been my top choice of some time now, due to their quality and intensity of color. (I promote Daniel Smith paints, a lot, to my students, but their prices are the same for everyone - and I actually like that they have no 'spokesperson' getting free paint in return for advertising.)

Other brands that I also like include M. Graham colors, made with honey as a binder so that they really don't harden, even after months of sitting, Holbein, Winsor Newton, Schminke, American Journey, Sennelier and Da Vinci. M. Graham paints don't always dry on YUPO paper if the paint's applied heavily, so I've given up using them.

Generally, mixing brands of paint within a palette works fine. The main differences seem to be the intensity of color, the amount of filler in the tube, and the quality of how well the pigment if formulated. One company's Cerulean may be the same pigment as another's, but the color on the paper can look markedly different because of the binders and quality of production. Cheaper brands seem to have more filler and less consistency in the way the paint is ground. Also, be aware that student grade paints like Sakura, Cotman, or Rembrandt seldom produce the same results as professional grade do.

So what would you think is the most important thing to buy the best of if you're painting with watercolors.... paint, brushes, paper, palette....? Happy painting.


Dawn said...

wow I want a lovely palatte like this too! but I have alot of paint left on my old palette.

I love the quin colors and lunar colors too.

no FUB??

very nice Sandy!

Myrna said...

Some very interesting choices! It's like a candy store, so hard to limit oneself. When all is said and done, the best paint can't make a great painting. It is the artist behind the brush that makes the difference. I think you are such a talented painter that you could make a masterpiece from mud.

laura said...

I can't do without cobalt violet! One of your greens I've never heard of: Apaptite Genuine. It's beautiful--is it a Daniel Smith color?
I like the way you made you chart, including the color numbers--with all the different manufacturers and names out there, it can get confusing! Thanks!

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

Two fantastic posts - thanks Sandy for all the info on watercolours. Incredibly deep study. I too prefer china palettes to plastic but havent seen one this size over here in England. Mine are 7 inch daisy shaped giving 8 deep shell like wells around a central circle. Love Myrna's comment about working with mud!! Quite contemporary actually and I'm sure you could create something amazing. .... as you always do. What a teacher.

debwardart said...

I see you are keeping Indanthrone - but - BLACK???????? And what about Quin. Gold - or did I buy up all those tubes!!!

Suzanne McDermott said...

You know, I've been using porcelain or white china for years. But before I bought the big T. Lynch palette, I used deviled egg plates or just large white china plates. But the wells help a lot with saving paints and order. However, the point I wanted to make is that I have never been able to tolerate mixing watercolor on plastic surfaces. The porcelain never stains.

Thanks for the, as usual, thorough explanation and beautiful layout of your palette. Have you always used black? Or just the D.S. Lunar variety?

Sandy Maudlin said...

Thanks for all the comments. Regarding the Lunar Black, it's also known as Mars Black probably because it looks like craters on Mars when it separates and dries. I've used occassional blacks over the last couple of years to POP a point or two, but this color was used in a mixture called Lunar Blue. Lunar Blue was just Phthalo Blue and Mars Black/Lunar Black together, so since Phthalo was already in the palette, addind just the Lua=nar Black seemed right. Now I have options of making other mixtures of Lunar whatever. I would imagine that one or two of these colors will go unused and be put in a drawetr after 6 months or so. I added 7 new colors from my older palette which are Kyanite Genuine, Lunar Black, Nickel Titanite Yellow, Amethyst Genuine, Apatite Blue Genuine (new introduction,) Apaptie Green Genuine, and Perylene Violet. Usually at this time of year I change 2 or 3 colors, but there were several not being used so I could change more. I switched back to Rich Green Gold from Green Gold, too. And Myrna, I can make MUD out of these colors easily - as we all can - wish it were the other way around... And Deb, I prefer Raw Sienna over Quin Gold, altho I almost used Quin Gold Deep. I had it in my palette earlier and didn't use it much.... all a matter of personal choice and taste. Suzanne, I sure do love the feel and clean up of the porcelain, too. So luxurious!

Nick said...

Glad to see you mention Da Vinci - I think they're as good as anything out there, and they beat everyone on price. They have reformulated them again, and they just keep getting better. I do get free paint, but I was using Da Vinci well before that happened, and really believe in the product.

Sandy Maudlin said...

Hi Nick, I appreciate your comments on the quality of Da Vinci paints. Their line is extensive and well formulated, at least in the watercolors and fluid acrylics that I've used. It's great, also, to be able to purchase a brand made here in the states, which theirs, is as well as Cheap Joes and Daniel Smiths.
Sure looking forward to our workshop in 2010 here.