After my latest post (a tour of my huge studio palette), I received several requests to post a similar “palette tour” blog entry for what I call my “Greatest Hits” palette, a collection of full pans of my 14 most commonly used colours.
The idea behind this palette was to curate a selection of paints that I could take out of the studio for travel or home use which would allow me to paint a large range of botanical and plein-air urban sketching subjects in a relatively portable way (although this palette is still relatively bulky), as well as facilitating my work in the studio and out by enabling me to load larger quantities of my frequently used colours easily.
I’ve been delaying writing this post for a few weeks, because although I have been using this palette regularly for several months, as both a travel palette and in the studio, over time I’ve come up with several changes I intended to make to it as I used up the paints currently inside it. I couldn’t decide whether I should profile the palette as I’ve been using it, or my current (and ever-evolving) lineup of “ideal” colours.
However, last week I decided to order an all-new full-pan palette from Ebay. The new palette is thinner and more compact than the current palette, yet holds up to 24 full pans. The picture below shows the half-pan version of the same palette, which I ordered to use as a studio palette in my home studio.
The practical upshot is that sometime in the next few months, my “greatest hits” palette in it’s current format will cease to exist, being replaced with a much larger selection of paints. However, I still think it is useful to keep track of my paints in terms of smaller curated collections.
Therefore, I will give you a tour of what is currently in my “greatest hits” 14-colour palette, and discuss what I would change, or which paints I could eliminate in even smaller palettes.
The image below is the swatch sheet I made of the colours in my current “Greatest Hits” Palette. The template I used was designed by the amazing Sade of “Sadie Saves the Day”, who sells the templates as digital downloads in her shop :
In the listings below, I’ve included (affiliate) links to my favourite paints. As always, I’m trying to find the best prices for most of my viewers. American brands have Dick Blick/Utrecht links, European brands are listed with Jackson’s links. All have reasonable shipping fees around the world. However, if you are in Canada, the Daniel Smith/M.Graham paints are available more affordably at Deserres and Curry’s, respectively. The colours contained in this palette are:
PY150 – Nickel Azo Yellow – M. Graham : My favourite yellow, hands down. Truly transparent, no milkiness and a beautiful middle yellow in tints. Mixes beautiful greens and subtle oranges. Lovely in glazes. Forever in my faves.
PO49 – Quinacridone Gold – Daniel Smith: Recently discontinued by Daniel Smith, the last remaining manufacturer, this is a good transparent alternative to Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre, and works beautifully as a glazing colour. I have a few backup tubes stockpiled, but a good convenience mix is available from most brands (usually made with PY150 and PO48, the two neighbouring pans). In a smaller set, or if I run out of the single pigment, I would simply mix PY150 and PO48
PO48 – Quinacridone Rust – M. Graham: A beautiful earthy orange hue, this particular formulation of this pigment has given me no end of grief . Although I love the saturation of this paint, I’ve decided I just can’t deal with the weird curdling behaviour for my formal paintings. I’ve already replaced it in my studio palette with the similar Da Vinci paint, which is a slightly browner tone. It will be years before I run out of the Da Vinci, but I’m also curious to try the Daniel Smith Quinacridone Burnt Orange, which is apparently slightly more orangey.
PO71- Translucent Orange – Schmincke: A beautiful, transparent fiery orange. I like this paint a lot, but I like the QOR version of the same pigment slightly more, I think. It has less of a drying shift, which also makes it a more vibrant orange. It will be replaced when I run out.
PV19- Quinacridone Rose – M. Graham: Another M. Graham colour with weird curdling behaviour , this one is available from basically every other manufacturer. However, I tend to prefer using PR122 for most applications, so I could leave it out altogether, or replace it with another colour, such as a deeper red, or my current crush PR242 Geranium Red by Schmincke
PR122 – Purple Magenta – Schmincke: My choice for a primary magenta colour, a really pretty transparent clear magenta, very slightly on the violet side.
PB60 – Indanthrone Blue – Daniel Smith: Darker and moodier than the more common ultramarine, this is my choice for a red-biased blue. Mixes vibrant purples with PR122, neutral greys with PO48, and interesting greens with PY150 and PO49
PB27 – Prussian Blue – M. Graham: Another dark and moody blue with great mixing properties, this one slightly on the green biased side. Has a challenging drying shift but is very useful nonetheless.
PB16 – Phthalo Turquoise – Winsor Newton: Another clear favourite, the final part of my “primary triad” of PY150, PR122 and PB16. Oh so pretty, deep and transparent.
N/A – Amazonite Genuine – Daniel Smith: A slightly more turquoisey version of Phthalo Green or Viridian, not as aggressively staining or pigmented as the former, much easier to rewet than the latter. I originally thought this was a silly vanity purchase, but I find this paint finds it’s way into nearly every painting.
N/A – Serpentine Genuine-Daniel Smith: An interesting sap green colour with tiny, nearly imperceptible purplish/brown flecks ground from natural serpentine. Kinda goofy convenience colour which could be left out of a smaller palette. I love it and get a lot of use out of it rendering foliage and lichen. I have the stick format, which is much better value for money than the tubes.
PG7 + PV19 – Neutral Tint – M. Graham: Another otherwise great M. Graham colour that curdles unexpectedly with my water/climate. This is a genius convenience mix. Nearly black and slightly purplish in masstone, it mixes beautifully with rose and red colours to make deep plummy shadows, works as a complimentary shadow colour for yellows, and deepens greens well too. I’m working on mixing my own dupe with non-curdling colours.
PBr7 – Raw Umber – Daniel Smith: This is my go-to dark earth colour. Nice granulation, plays nicely in mixes and glazes to make all kinds of earth, stone and treebark colours/textures.
PBr7 – Burnt Sienna – M. Graham Chosen for it’s granulation and because so many artists seem to favour this pigment. It’s nice, but I don’t consider it essential with PO48 and Raw Umber in the palette. Would likely replace it with PW6 Titanium Buff, which seems like an oddball choice but I find really useful for mixing glaucous/hazy textures on leaves, fruit and lichen, particularly with Amazonite. Or leave it out altogether, in a smaller palette.
So that’s it – a useful mixing collection of 14 colours. I know I have some unusual picks in there, but they work well for me. What are your favourite mixing colours? Favourite unusual pigments?