I truly love watercolors – but the traditional watercolor palette never really “JIVED” with me. That’s why I’ve spent WAY TOO MUCH MONEY and WAY TOO MANY HOURS – WELL REALLY YEARS – honing this palette and making it mine. And NOW I can finally say I’ve done it! I’VE FINALLY NARROWED my palette DOWN TO 22 COLORS that make the perfect pastel watercolor palette for me!
SO WHAT MAKES THE PERFECT PASTLE WATERCOLOR PALETTE?
It starts with choosing good solid primaries colors both the traditional set (red, yellow, deep blue) and the modern set of primaries (yellow turquoise, and pink). The next item I pay attention to when honing my palette is if the colors can be watered down to a nearly transparent hue – thus making them good light pastel tones. Next – I look for very vibrant colors that I can use as bases. These colors are almost too vibrant when coming directly from the tube – but that’s not a problem. You can always tone down a color – but making a paint color more vibrant and that brilliant pure color is impossible. And lastly – I look for colors that will be good toners (or colors that can tone down these bright vibrant colors) to my liking and Voilà the perfect pastel watercolor palette for me! SO below are my colors and I hope you enjoy!
SO HERE ARE MY FAVORITE WATERCOLORS
Honestly, I switch between opera rose from winsor and brilliant opera pink from Schmincke all the time. Schmincke is definitely finer of a paint and alot more expensive. If you can’t afford schmincke – try to invest in professional opera rose from winsor and newton.
This is a new color I’ve recently stumbled upon. It’s fantastic for mixing brilliant peachy colors and sweet pastels. However, it is a bit opaque so keep that in mind.
This red is the most brilliant and transparent red paint I’ve ever run across. It’s awesome if you desire to use red in a painting. Just keep in mind – since it’s transparent it will dry lighter than when first applied. So you might end up using more than you originally planned. But still well worth it.
This color is the color I used for my brilliant fox! It’s a stunning firey orange that mixes beautifully with scarlet lake, winsor yellow, and brilliant opera rose. 🙂
This beautiful yellow looks more like a yellow orange. The reason I love this paint is it’s transparency and it’s ability to glide over the page like ink. It’s truly mesmerizing. 🙂
This was an unexpected color that popped into my palette a couple of months ago and I’m so glad it did! If you are interested in skin tones – this color mixed perfectly for peachy skin tones. It also is my palette because it creates really unique pastel greens and blues when mixed with cobalt turquoise. This color is a must for me in my palette!
This is considered a true or primary yellow – meaning it mixes well with both warm colors and cool colors – which means it’s a must in my palette.
This is a pale yellow – which if you desire pastel colors in your palette – this color is a must have.
This color I would consider the biggest under sung hero for watercolor. When mixed with opera rose it create earthy orange tones – but when mixed with winsor blue it creates stunning greens like you wouldn’t believe. It’s one of those colors that in itself – may not be that enticing – but when mixed with other colors you might be surprised what you find 🙂
This color is beautiful for dark leaves and deep organic greens. It’s not necessary – but I love it so. 🙂
I’ve always been a sucker for turquoise and this color doesn’t disappoint! The reason I love it over other brands is it’s fine ground pigment – which appears less grainy compared to other brands I’ve tried. It’s also also to mix with yellows, blues, and even opera pink. 🙂 Yep, opera pink works well with this color creating vivid purples.
THIS BLUE IS AWESOME! Great for bright sky blues! A must if you like those super light and airy blues. But keep in mind it’s very opaque – so not good for glazing and even mixing with some colors.
My favorite blue thus far! And believe me I’ve owned and wasted ALOT of money on watercolor blues. But this one has stood the test of time. This is the color mixed with Winsor’s Payne’s Gray and Schmincke’s Phthalo Sapphire Blue in the Mountain fox painting. 🙂
In all honesty – I don’t use this color often. But I’m still including it on my list because sometimes you just need a good dark intense blue. And this color does the job! This is another color (as mentioned earlier) in the mountain fox painting. If you desire rich deep blues – especially for night skies – this is your color!
This color is beautiful starting point for purples. I tend to mix my purples rather than using directly form the tube. So this tends to be my base color. If I want more of a pinkish hue – I mix opera rose with it – or more of a bluish hue then winsor blue 🙂
This just is a staple that all watercolorist need. I love it’s rich warm purple hues – as well as it’s ability to create warm rich brown hues when mixed with orange. 🙂
This just is a staple that all watercolorist need. It’s great for rich golds and even warm browns when mixed. 🙂
If you are wanting to paint wild life and need a good brown – this colors is spectacular! It’s transparent – so glazes like a dream and mixes beautiful with most colors! Awesome neutral to add pop to your palette. 🙂
Once again just is a staple that all watercolorist need. 🙂
Most people tend to shy away from this color – but actually I treat this color as more of a tinting color for shadows in my illustration or deepening a night sky along the edges of my paper. This is why I’m including it in my essential list!
And finally, this is a new color that I’ve stumbled upon and love so much I’m including it into my essentials list. This color can create beautiful grays when mixed with yellow ochre and easily tones down colors to form shadow hues. It’s very opaque – so you will need to water it down. You also don’t need alot! Plus it activates well inside a palette after drying. Thus you won’t be wasting this paint fast.
22. ZINC WHITE – WINSOR GOUACHE
And finally, I do use gouache white for small details or even lightening colors in my washes. If you don’t already know – I’m a modern watercolorist – not a traditional one. So yeah – I use white 🙂 But mainly I use this as and added accent.
So those are the colors I use pretty much on a daily basics. I hope that helps and also know this will be the staple palette I use in all courses from here on out. 🙂