Apparently I just can’t let this subject go. I am becoming the crazy water hardness and watercolour clumping lady. Recently I was reminded of this problem/puzzle while planning for participating in Inktober.
In this video she demonstrates how she creates dramatic, organic-looking textural effects using Winsor & Newton Indian Ink diluted in water. When mixed with tap water the ink clumps up, and deposits in a granulating texture on the paper.
Being a water-resistant ink, this can then be worked over with transparent watercolour without destroying the granulation pattern. I thought this might be useful for some spotting effects I commonly see on dry grasses and
seed pods in winter, and stashed the tip away for possible future use.
I’ve been thinking about what to do for Inktober. I would like to try in
king with liquid ink and a brush for some of my pieces. While thinking about what to do with liquid ink, I saw some other recommendations to thin it out for grey washes. I was reminded of the Stephanie Law video, and decided to look up Winsor & Newton ink specifically.
See that yellow highlighted paragraph. Here’s what it says:
The colours can be easily diluted with water to reduce the strength of the colour or to increase it’s transparency. Distilled water must be used as tap water causes the dye to separate from the binder.
Yep, that’s right. Winsor & Newton drawing inks are watersoluble, but only in distilled water. Even small amounts of dissolved minerals in tap water cause the ink particles to clump and curdle out of solution, causing the textural effects that Stephanie Pui-Mun Law uses to such great effect in her pieces. This behaviour is similar to what I experienced in M. Graham watercolor paints.
I wonder whether there is a similarity between the binder(s) used in the Winsor & Newton inks and the M. Graham paints. Very intriguing.
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
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.
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.
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. GrahamChosen 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?
THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. LEE ANGOLD IS A PARTICIPANT IN THE AMAZON SERVICES LLC ASSOCIATES PROGRAM, UTRECHT ART AFFILIATE PROGRAM, DICK BLICK AFFILIATE PROGRAM AND THE JACKSON’S ART AFFILIATE NETWORK. THESE ARE AFFILIATE ADVERTISING PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE A MEANS FOR SITES TO EARN ADVERTISING FEES BY LINKING TO PRODUCT LISTINGS.
It’s been a while since I shared what’s in my watercolour palette
A few months ago, I purchased a Meeden 48 Half Pan Watercolour Palette and Pans to house my evergrowing collection of watercolour paints. I recommend buying one of these tins if you want an empty standard tin like the ones sold by WN, Schmincke, etc at a lower cost. They are available in a variety of sizes, with or without pans included.
Like in most similar boxes, it is usually possible to fit one extra pan per row (for a total of 52). Actually, the Meeden half-pans are a little thicker than other ones so you won’t be able to fit the extra pan if you only use Meeden pans, but as I have some pans from other brands, I was able to squeeze them in.
Like most of the lightweight tins, the large Meeden palette has two fold out mixing areas (the inside of the lid, and one on the opposite side. As well, there is a centre tray that holds the pans which can be lifted out as well, and the inside of the tin underneath can also be used for mixing. I generally prefer to use a ceramic plate for mixing, and I am actually considering removing the second flap so the box will take up less space when open.
Here is a painted out colour swatch sheet of the colours I keep in this box with labels. This swatch sheet is kept in a sketchbook for reference.