Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Palette

I just got back from vacation to find my palette featured in the 25th anniversary edition of Watercolor magazine.
My palette is one of nine featured in the article. I find it fascinating to see the colors others use.
In fact they cropped out the other half of my palette. Below what you see here is a large mixing area. It closes and seals the paint in, keeping it moist. I did discover the disadvantage of this while on vacation. If you store it upside down, the moist paints make a real mess. I'm sure you can still see the permanent orange and cobalt blue that I scraped out along the Tiber in Rome.


  1. So glad they didn't mistakenly feature white as part of your palette this time. If they could only diagram your 30 years of instinct with the blending of colors and timing of application. Thanks for sharing the palette.

  2. Michael, I read the article and I too find it interesting what colors others are using. My own palette has evolved to be fairly similar to yours and I have a few questions I'd appreciate your comments on. I use Carmine and was thinking about adding Quin.Rose, but thought they might be too similar, especially in tints, is that true? Are Quin.Burnt Orange and QB Scarlet fairly distinct from each other, and is QB Scarlet the more similar to Burnt Sienna? Why do you prefer Thalo Blue red shade to green shade? Thanks!

  3. Thanks Wren. Hopefully this article might correct any misperceptions from the other article. You're making me feel old...:).

  4. Chris, this leads to a discussion of my palette choices that I'm thinking of posting soon. But I'll try to answer your specific questions.
    Quin Rose has a bit more blue in it than Carmine, which makes interesting green mixtures. Also, Carmine has a slightly greater value range than Quin Rose.
    Quin Burnt Orange and Burnt Scarlet are indeed different. The scarlet is much more red. I use these also for mixing greens. Burnt Scarlet, as the article noted, is probably my most used color. It isn't exactly like Burnt Sienna (Burnt Orange is closer in hue), but I use it in much the same way that other painters use Burnt Sienna. Both Quin colors have a much greater value range than Burnt Sienna.
    The Phthalo Blue Red Shade seems to be a more true blue than the Green Shade, though there isn't a whole lot of difference. I mostly use it for very dark shadow areas, which mostly tend to go to the warmer range (or so I think).
    I hope this helps.

  5. Thank you, Michael. It's hard do discern the nuances and comparitive qualities of colors from the catalog and online display chips. I am trying to keep to a fairly limited palette, so inside info is very helpful. I would look forward to a review of your palette choices.

  6. I have the same palette and have made the same kinds of messes. Sad to hear it happens to professionals too.

  7. Yes, it happens to us all. It's nice to have the moist paint preserved, but you have to be careful.

  8. Any chance you would be able to give us the name of the palette or where you bought it. My ongoing frustration is finding a palette that actually keeps the paint moist for any period of time. Your work is great; enjoyed the recent article in Watercolor Artist as well as your website and blog. Tom S.

  9. Sure, Tom. The brand name is Mijella. I bought it from Amazon. It runs around $17.00. My only warning though is to keep it flat, and right side up, or you will have the problem I had that I describe on the last page of the magazine.
    Thanks. I'm glad you like my work.

  10. I'm very curious as to why you chose the colors you have. Most notably the Pthalo Green (yellow shade), but I also notice a lot of Quinacridone pigments. How did you settle on these color choices? Is it based on your typical subject matter, or the colors you are able to mix with them (I notice there are no browns present)?

    1. Linda, I developed my palette over many years. I use Phthalo Green Yellow Shade as the basis for all of my dark greens. It is very transparent and a very strong pigment. It is the basis for many of the pre-mixed colors such as Sap Green. I prefer to make my own mixes. I replaced my earth colors with the quinacridones. Like Phthalo Green, they are also very transparent and are strong pigments. In fact, most of my greens are a combination of Phthalo Green and the quinacridones. The combination leads to luminous greens. I hope this answers your questions.