Wanting a mixable palette

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Wanting a mixable palette

Postby Cathy » Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:31 am

Hi, I am looking to create a selection of paints that mix well together. I want to limit the colors as much as possible but still get a variety of color. I sketch and paint mainly people, cafe's, but sometimes an outside scene with trees, flowers etc. Here is the paints:I was going to use,

Cad yellow (pale?)
Cad yellow orange
Cad red deep
Perm Rose
Ultra Deep
B Sienna or Quin Burnt Orange
Q Gold or Raw Sienna
Ivory Black
I appreciate your help!!! I've been struggling to get a palette I like...... :?
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Re: Wanting a mixable palette

Postby mpainter » Sat Oct 04, 2014 3:23 am

I paint with a warm and a cool of the primary colors and of course white.
Often my palette contains.
Cad Yellow light
Cad Yellow deep
Cad Red Medium
Alizarin Crimson
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Blue
Titanium white.
Because I mostly paint outside I sometimes bring " convenience colors". Such as yellow ochre or burnt sienna and Viridian green. Because it is faster to have these than mix them outside when time is very limited.
Color palettes are a very personal choice and you will probably find that everyone's is slightly different.
If your just learning to mix color the limited palette I have outlined above will work well under most circumstances. And by limiting the amount of colors you use you will learn to mix any color. Also by limiting your palette another bonus is your paintings will tend to have better color harmony.
Happy painting.
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Re: Wanting a mixable palette

Postby Cathy » Sat Oct 04, 2014 4:02 am

Thanks Rob! I didn't want to have 24 colors, your list looks like a great workable palette........and when I have too many paints to choose from it gets confusing! :)
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Re: Wanting a mixable palette

Postby Andre Jute » Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:53 pm

The pre-1800 artists' primaries were yellow, red, blue and green, and that still makes for the easiest mixing palette.

Yellow: Cadmium Yellow Light, or Benzimidazolone or Arilyde
Red: Cadmium Red Medium, Naphtol, Quinacridone Red or Rose
Blue: Ultramarine Blue
Green: Phtalo Green (yellow shade)

Unlike Rob I don't consder the earths luxuries!
White (titanium dries faster and covers better)
Burnt Sienna
Yellow Ochre

You could stop there. In my tiny Jullian thumb pochade box I carry only a starter kit of five tubes of M. Graham oils (Azo Yellow, Napthol Red, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green and Titanium White) and I have delayed ordering any more because I'm getting by so handsomely, not having yet run into any colour I wanted to paint that I couldn't match. But my watercolour pochade tins generally have 12/13/14 colours because I live in Ireland where the rain can overtake a plein air painter any moment, so convenience colours translate into necessary speed. Whether you really need more than the four primaries (and white in oils) thus depends on what you want to use the kit for, and where.

If you have these you don't need a neutral because you can already mix a near-black, but some people like:

Black or Neutral: Ivory Black is common
Payne's Gray is also useful for clouds and shadow, as well as a neutralizer

You don't need both. I much prefer the Payne's Gray. Both are these days absent from most of my paintboxes as unnecessary.

If you choose your four primaries above carefully, you can make a clean full spectrum with the addition of only three further pigments:

Orange: You can't mix a satisfying orange with a pale yellow or, god forbid, yellow ochre, so add a good clean orange
Purple: Dioxazine Violet is a wonderful colour in its own right and a very useful mixer; it can't be mixed from anything else
Blue: not essential but useful. Cerulean is a quick sky, Prussian Blue makes lovely textures, Phtalo Blue is a bit more difficult but very versatile

These should all be single pigments if you want to be a colorist (except that Payne's Gray is a mixture).

If you paint even a small number of landscapes or botanicals or even still lives with fruit or interiors with flowers, don't be obsessive about single pigments, carry a convenience green instead of or in addition to the phtalo:

Sap Green, most versatile convenience green, dead central to a vast spread of natural leaf colors, easily adjusted
Hooker's Green, less versatile but also very useful, by itself matches some foliage, a useful contrast

I do a lot of landscapes so I have both convenience greens and the phtalo in even my smallest watercolour kit, and in a couple of my oil kits too, and that despite the fact that I don't fuss with botanical exactitude and know how to make the yellow shade Phtalo do.

Finally, consider again where and what you will use the kit for; if you don't need the convenience greens, you could add one or possibly two colours for other needs (I have a flesh tone mix in one of my kits that I often do people with) or because they're otherwise useful (a transparent duplicate of an opaque colour you already have? that sort of consideration), or simply because you like the color.

So there you go, ten or a maximum of twelve "colors", and you can be a champion colorist.
Last edited by Andre Jute on Sat Oct 04, 2014 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wanting a mixable palette

Postby mdmattin » Sat Oct 04, 2014 6:18 pm

Hi Cathy,
For several years I've used variations on the "warm/cool" palette in my tiny watercolor kit of 8 colors. I'd choose a warm and cool for each primary and add in a couple of earth or convenience colors. Some examples:
Quin Gold PO49
Burnt Sienna PBr7
Arylide Yellow FGL PY97
Permanent Yellow Deep PY110
Holbein Antique Turquoise PB17
Ultra Blue PB29
Quin Magenta PR122
Winsor Orange RS PO73

The PB17 I learned about from Russ on this forum. It is very nice alternative to pthalo for a cool blue. It's not as intensely staining and seems richer to my eye, but a bit pricy an harder to find. I also used Prussian Blue PB27 for years; it's very good for skies and for general mixing but has a metallic quality (it's based on iron) that I got sick of after a while. Instead of a warm red, I went for the Winsor (Pyrrole) Orange, PO73, on the theory that I could get to red by mixing orange and magenta, but not, as Andre points out, to any kind of decent orange by mixing red and yellow.

Quin Gold PO49
Quin Burnt Orange PO48
Cad Lemon PY35
Permanent Yellow Deep PY110
Holbein Antique Turquoise PB17
Ultra Blue PB29
Quin Magenta PR122
Winsor Orange RS PO73

Here, I substituted Cad Lemon, because it's much colder (or greener) than the arylide, and good for intense yellow greens, and Quin Burnt Orange for Burnt Sienna to get richer grays and browns, esp when mixed with Ultra Blue.

"Secondary Palette"
This is based on Bruce McEvoy's design on his Handprint site (an essential resource if you haven't found it already). Instead of thinking warm and cool (he is very disparaging about this approach; an attitude I don't share as the W/C idea always worked well for me) you think primary and secondary as single pigments at high saturation, but chosen for mixability. You can then mix tertiaries from primaries and secondaries, and grays and browns from complements. Although we usually think of violet as being a secondary color, in McEvoy's scheme Ultra Blue takes on the role of violet, and in my scheme, the Diox Violet is a convenience or more intense alternative, good for mixing with greens and for graying down yellows (Ultra + Yellow gets you a nice woody green, but not a real gray unless you also add some sort of red.)

Ultramarine Blue PB29
Quinacridone Burnt Orange PO48
Winsor (Dioxazine) Violet PV23
Cadmium Lemon PY35
Holbein (Pthalo) Antique Turquoise PB17
Pyrrole Orange RS PO73
Winsor (Pthalo) Green YS PG36
Quin Magenta PR122

The most recent change for me has been to revert to the Arylide Yellow, which is transparent, over the Cad Lemon, which is semi-opaque. Even though opacity can be handy at times, it's also tends to muddy things up if you don't watch out.

Hope this helps. I'm looking forward to seeing what you paint with whatever palette you choose.
Last edited by mdmattin on Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wanting a mixable palette

Postby Cathy » Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:59 am

Thank you Andre for a wonderful tutorial on mixing paints and choosing color!

mdmatten, thank you for all the options and why you choose them!

Now comes the learning curve where I get to put all this to sketching & painting!

I really appreciate everyones help!
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