Selecting Watercolors

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My Personal Choice of Colors

Watercolour Set of Artist Marion Boddy-Evans
Once I'd squeezed out some color (a little over-enthusiastically!) I left the paint to dry out a day or so before carrying it anywhere as some of the colors were a little runny. Photo © 2013 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

On of the tasks I've set myself this year is to work more with watercolor, to develop my skills further, and to use it for large-scale paintings as well as when sketching on location. For ages, I've used the same small pocket watercolor set (photo) in which I'd replaced a few of the colors. But having misplaced it and it determinedly not turning up, I treated myself to a tiny set of Sennelier watercolors with eight colors. That was love at first touch of waterbrush to paint.

Sennelier's watercolor is mixed with honey, and 'dissolves' readily into amazingly rich, saturated paint. I found myself increasingly eager to use the set, using it on location with big sheets of 300gsm Bockingford paper and even in a life drawing session. So I decided to treat myself to a bigger set, with a range of colors of my choice rather than a ready-made set. I bought 21ml tubes rather than 10ml because they're twice as much for less than twice the price, and I know I'll use it up!

The result is what you see in the photo, 12 colors squeezed from tubes into an empty watercolor palette. The colors are:

  1. Payne's Grey PV19, PB15:1, Pbk7. Dark blue-grey, stands in for black and deep brown.
  2. Prussian Blue PB27. Intensely dark blue when undiluted, stands in for black.
  3. Ultramarine Light PB29. Warm blue.
  4. Cerulean Blue  PB28. Cool blue.
  5. Chromium Oxide Green PG17. Dark, earthy green.
  6. Phthalo Green Light  PG7, PY153. Bright green-leaning into yellow, ideal for fresh spring grass.
  7. Aureolin  PY40. Warm yellow.
  8. Cadmium Lemon Yellow PY35. Cool yellow.
  9. Caput Mortum  PR101. Earthy brown-red.
  10. Magenta Permanent PV19. Perfect for the purple heather you get in Scotland's landscapes.
  11. Quinacridone Red PR209. A warm red.
  12. Cadmium Red Light  PR108. A cool red.

I do also have a tube of opaque white but didn't put this onto my palette as part of the discipline and challenge of using the white of the paper. 

The empty watercolor palette I bought is one that seems to be distributed in the UK only, a full-pan one by Frank Herring. But other companies do make empty palettes  and you can even buy an empty metal watercolor box with empty pans to put in it  and fill these with tube paint. While a metal box does have a lovely substantial feel, it is much heavier for carrying around if you're painting on location.

I chose colors that all had a high lightfastness rating and were mostly single pigments rather than mixed. Payne's Grey is, of course, inherently a mix. I anticipate many happy hours painting!

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Boddy-Evans, Marion. "Selecting Watercolors." ThoughtCo, Oct. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/selecting-watercolors-2579370. Boddy-Evans, Marion. (2016, October 23). Selecting Watercolors. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/selecting-watercolors-2579370 Boddy-Evans, Marion. "Selecting Watercolors." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/selecting-watercolors-2579370 (accessed November 19, 2017).