My watercolour palette

My Watercolour Palette Post.jpg

The other day I was settling down to do some long awaited painting when I realised how awkward my whole setup was.

I was using maybe 4 or 5 different palettes, about 15 different tubes and everything was just slow and muddled. I also kept choosing the wrong shade of blue, which was hugely annoying, so I decided to buy one of these Meeden 48 pan empty watercolour palettes and finally just put together my own.

My Watercolour Palette 1.jpg

How I did it

The process was completely straightforward. I simply swatched every colour I had and then began picking the ones I liked the most with some respect for cool/warm colours and ensuring I had the full spectrum. It wasn't complicated at all. Purely instinctive. What I wanted to paint with. If I had two yellows, same pigment but different brand I would pick the one that looked the best out of the two. I also added anything that made me coo with delight or looked fun.

Once I had limited it down to what I wanted I shopped through watercolour suppliers picking out any colours I wanted but didn't have and added those in too. The Daniel Smith Watercolour Dot Charts were immensely helpful for this.

Now, for all the purists out there, I'm fully aware of the 'rules' when it comes to choosing palette colours and how 'less is more' and you should 'really' work with a limited palette, but frankly... that bores the hell out of me, and as an illustrator I want the wild hues. I need the vibrant pinks, purples, turquoises and iridescent finishes. Earth tones have very little place in my studio. In fact having a palette of the standard basic colours made painting feel like a chore. As soon as I began adding in what I liked the look of, painting got a whole lot more fun.

So here's my final choices, with plenty of room for more if I wish:

My Watercolour Palette 2.jpg
My Watercolour Palette 3.jpg


WN: Winsor & Newton Artist Watercolour (NOT Cotman) 

P: Prima Watercolour (specifically the Tropicals pack. Unfortunately they only seem to come in numbers rather then names and you can’t appear to buy them individually, you have to buy a full palette.

DS: Daniel Smith Watercolours

The Colours

  1. WN Cadmium Red

  2. P no. 19

  3. DS Pyrrol Orange

  4. WN Burnt Sienna

  5. DS Genuine Garnet

  6. WN Cadmium Yellow

  7. WN Yellow Ochre

  8. WN Winsor Lemon

  9. DS Gold Green

  10. DS Green Gold

  11. WN Sap Green

  12. DS Undersea Green

  13. P no. 18

  14. WN Viridian Hue

  15. DS Phthalo Turquoise

  16. WN Cobalt Turquoise Light

  17. DS Turquoise Duochrome

  18. DS Duochrome Oceanic

  19. DS Iridescent Electric Blue

  20. WN Cobalt Blue

  21. WN Ultramarine Intense Blue

  22. WN Phthalo Blue

  23. DS Indigo

  24. DS Moonglow

  25. WN Cobalt Violet

  26. P no. 20

  27. DS Rose of Ultramarine

  28. P no. 22

  29. DS Duochrome Hibiscus

  30. WN Opera Rose

  31. WN Quinacridone Magenta

  32. WN Rose Madder Genuine

  33. WN Burnt Umber

  34. DS Hematite Violet Genuine

  35. WN Raw Umber

  36. DS Lunar Black

  37. WN Lamp Black

  38. DS Iridescent Gold

  39. DS Pearlescent Shimmer

I really love the pinks and granulating darks- I definitely want to get more of those. Indigo is just a GORGEOUS colour too isn't it? I've recently discovered handmade pigments ground from some fascinating one of a kind sources and I would love to explore those a bit more. And painting with real Garnet, Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli? Amazing!

Tell me, what colours do you have in YOUR palette and why?