1.MY WATERCOLOR PALETTE
This is going to be a long post, so grab a cup of tea and sit back! One of my most often asked questions is which watercolors do I use so here is my messy watercolor palette in all its glory; paint splatters, brush hairs colors dipped from one color to another and all! I love it!
The watercolor supplies I have chosen to work with at any one time has previously changed depending on what new supplies I was enjoying playing with. However, recently I’ve stuck in the main to one watercolor palette. Now this may change in time, but this is an honest look at where I am now and how I got here. I will say right from the start that you don’t need a watercolor palette as extensive as this. Most crafters have at the very least a few Distress Inks and they are fabulous for watercoloring.
I loved using the supplies I had but was enjoying watercoloring so much I started to explore the artists tube watercolors and pan sets. This journey has led me to the palette you see now and to be honest the price point of these is high. I repeat that you don’t need to have a palette like this, however, I use my watercolors a lot and they last a long time so, for me, there is value in the long run. If you are interested in any of the supplies I have a section below listing the different supply options which I hope you will find useful.
2.GETTING TO KNOW YOUR WATERCOLORS
I’m continuing my story at the point that my collection of watercolors had grown and I’d just splurged on a Schmincke set of 48 half pans when I sat down and really tried to get to know my watercolors better. Based on the advice of Dawn Woleslagle in the Online Card Classes Watercolor For Cardmakers: Intermediate Techniques, I created swatches for all my watercolors.
For each color I took a piece of my regular watercolor card (I like Arches cold pressed) and drew a thick black line with a Sharpie. I then watercolored a light wash across the top of the square, let it dry and then added a second wash to the right side. By observing how the paint overlaid the black line I was able to decide whether the watercolor was opaque, semi opaque or transparent. I also went to the manufacturer’s web sites and looked up which pigments they had used to mix that particular color. I highly recommend going through this process, I know it will be a little time-consuming but it is so worth the effort as you learn a great deal about the paints you’ve invested in.
Armed with this information I laid all the swatches face up on my table in rainbow order and took my time to decide which reds I liked best, which oranges etc. I compared the colors and hues and left my favorites face up and turned over the ones I was less keen on. Sometimes I was able to see that a color I liked was simply a mix of the pigments used in its two neighbours and rejected that color as I knew I would be able to mix it easily. It felt like a children’s memory game where you turn the cards over LOL. Finally I was able to cut the choice in front of me to 52 colors. The metal palette I use which came with the Schmincke set of 48 colors can actually hold 52 half pans if you hutch them all together.
3. SETTING UP THE PALETTE
With my 52 color choices now met I placed those colors which were already in half pans straight in to the palette. Some of my favorite colors I had in tubes though and for these I bought empty half pans and squirted the color in to the pan and left to dry. The dry paint can then be rewet and used in the same way as the other half pans.
Here I’m refilling one of my favorite colors; Daniel Smith quinacridone coral. Once I’d got my line up sorted I created a color chart by drawing out on Arches watercolor card four rows of 13 boxes corresponding to the layout of my palette and watercolored a swatch of each color in the right box.
4. MY OTHER WATERCOLORS
Before I move on to outlining some of my favorite colors within my choice of 52, I thought it a nice time to reflect on the other options I have and still do enjoy using. Among others I reach for Distress Inks, Zig Clean Color Brush Markers and the Gansai Tambi watercolor palette.
Before deciding on new additions to your watercolors I urge you to look at what supplies you have already :D
5. MY FAVORITE WATERCOLORS
Back to my custom watercolor palette and here’s the full layout of my current set up of 52 colors.
Top row: Schmincke gold, Schmincke Silver, Schmincke pure yellow, Schmincke lemon yellow, Schmincke cadmium yellow light, Schmincke translucent yellow, Schmincke indian yellow, Schmincke chrome orange, Schmincke translucent orange, Winsor & Newton orange (red shade), Schmincke cadmium red light, Schmincke scarlet red, Schmincke deep red
Second row: Schmincke permanent carmine, Daniel Smith quinacridone magenta, Daniel Smith quinacridone pink, Daniel Smith quinacridone coral, Schmincke manganese violet, Winsor & Newton violet diox., Schmincke ultramarine violet, Schmincke delft blue, Schmincke indigo, Schmincke ultramarine finest, Schmincke mountain blue, Schmincke prussian blue, Schmincke phthalo blue
Third row: Schmincke cerulean blue tone, Schmincke helio turquoise, Schmincke manganese blue hue, Schmincke cobalt turquoise, Daler Rowney phthalo turquoise, Schmincke prussian green, Schmincke phthalo green, Schmincke may green, Schmincke cobalt green dark, Schmincke permanent green olive, Winsor & Newton permanent sap green, Schmincke olive green yellowish, Schmincke jaune brilliant dark
Bottom row: Schmincke naples yellow, Schmincke yellow ochre, Daniel Smith quinacridone gold, Schmincke naples yellow reddish, Schmincke burnt sienna, Schmincke madder brown, Schmincke english venetian red, Schmincke indian red, Schmincke burnt umber, Schmincke sepia brown, Schmincke neutral tint, Schmincke payne’s grey blueish, Schmincke ivory black
There are a lot of Schmincke colors among my favorites, I like the way the pans wet easily and give rich color. However, it’s interesting that the 12 top favorites listed below span across four companies. So my particular favorites and ones I will try to link to in the next section are:
- Schmincke silver – great for sparkly splatter
- Schmincke translucent yellow
- Schmincke translucent orange
- Daniel Smith quinacridone coral – such a pretty color and great for flowers
- Schmincke manganese violet
- Winsor & Newton violet diox.
- Daler Rowney pthalo turquoise – my go to choice for skies
- Schmincke may green
- Winsor & Newton permanent sap green
- Daniel Smith quinacridone gold
- Schmincke naples yellow reddish – great for pinky skin tones
- Schmincke sepia brown – a warm grey great for critters and shadows
These 12 colors are the ones I seem to dip my brush in to most often when watercoloring :D
6. WATERCOLOR SUPPLIES
If you are interested in buying the artist quality watercolors individually I recommend that you buy the tubes. I feel this is the most economical way to purchase them and can be used straight from the tube or equally decanted in to a palette and left to dry as I have done. If you are thinking of buying a set of watercolors then you may find the half pan palettes to be better value initially and you can then buy individual tubes to top up your favorites.
6.1 SIMON SAYS STAMP
As you probably know I’m a huge fan of Simon Says Stamp; the company, their range of stock and the good people who run it. You can find their watercolor stock here where you will find among others the Gansai Tambi palette and also individual refill pans. A recent addition is the Mijello Mission Gold set which I know Kristina Werner likes to use. On top of that are the Zig Clean Color Markers and of course Distress Inks range.
Being based in the UK, I purchased a lot of my artist watercolor supplies from Jackson’s. You can find the Schmincke 48 half pan set I based my palette on as well as the empty half pans I used to decant my favorite tube watercolors.
6.3 DICK BLICK
Dick Blick offer a great choice for US shoppers although they seem to concentrate on the larger 15ml tubes which give more value than the smaller 5ml tubes with an initial lower price point which I find great to determine my favorite colors.
6.4 AMAZON US
6.5 AMAZON UK
And here’s the links for Amazon UK :D
7. PRICE COMPARISONS
I recommend you shop around to find the best deal for you and keep in mind that the cost may depend on your location. For example Dick Blick the American art supply store I list above sells 15ml tubes of artist quality watercolors (you can often find smaller 5ml sizes elsewhere). To compare the prices I will compare an American paint (Daniel Smith) vs a European paint (Schmincke). The prices are current as I type this and will not doubt vary on a day to day basis.
15ml Daniel Smith Quinacridone Coral
- Dick Blick $12.46 (£9.12)
- Jacksons £11.50 ($15.72)
- Amazon US $13.65 (£9.99)
- Amazon UK £14.71 ($20.10)
Not unsurprisingly this American brand Daniel Smith paint is less expensive at Dick Blick an American online store.
15ml Schmincke Translucent Yellow
- Jackson’s £8.60 ($11.75)
- Dick Blick $13.38 (£9.79)
- Amazon UK £10.32 ($14.10)
- Amazon US $11.96 (£8.75)
Again unsurprisingly the European brand Schmincke paint in this example is less expensive at Jackson’s a UK online store. So remember to check the best price for you and don’t forget that these companies offer international shipping.
I apologise for the length of time it has taken me to put this post together, but it took a while to compile all the information. I truly hope that you find the information useful if you are contemplating a watercolor purchase or equally suggestions on how to set up your own palette and truly get to know the watercolors you have already :D
I thought I’d finish with a gallery of pictures of cards I’ve made recently with my watercolors. Click on a photo to make it larger and you can find all my watercolor tagged posts here :D
8. PIN ME
I’d love if you pinned this summary image and called by on Pinterest :D