John Muir Laws wrote the book on nature journaling, literally; I really enjoyed The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling. While I’m not sure what colors Laws is actually using these days, I thought I’d take a look at the colors he suggests in his book.
John Muir Laws’ Suggested Colors
|Slot||JML Has||Some Alternatives|
|Light Yellow||Hansa Yellow Light (PY3)||Lemon Yellow (PY175), Cadmium Yellow Lemon (PY35)|
|Medium Yellow||Hansa Yellow Medium (PY97)||Pure Yellow (PY154), Brilliant Hansa Yellow (PY74), Cadmium Yellow (PY35)|
|Deep Yellow||New Gamboge (PY110 + PY97)||Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (PY110), Hansa Yellow Deep (PY65)|
|Gold||Quinacridone Gold (PO49)||Rich Green Gold (PY129); any deep yellow or earth yellow; DIY from Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150) + earth orange|
|Orange||Permanent Orange (PO62)||Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71), Pyrrol Orange (PO73)|
|Bright Sienna||Quinacridone Sienna (PR209 + PY150 + PO48)||Earth orange; a scarlet such as Pyrrol Scarlet or Scarlet Lake; DIY from Quin Gold + Quinacridone Coral (PR209)|
|Red||Pyrrol Red (PR254)||Perylene Red, Alizarin Crimson hue|
|Pink||Quinacridone Pink (PV42)||Quinacridone Rose (PV19), Quinacridone Magenta (PR122)|
|Purple||Dioxazine Violet (PV23)||Imperial Violet, Rose of Ultramarine, Ultramarine Violet, Quin Violet, Perylene Violet|
|Dark Blue||Indanthrone Blue (PB60)||Indigo, WN Payne’s Gray, Ultramarine Blue (PB29)|
|Mid Blue||Cobalt Blue (PB28)||Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:1), Cerulean Blue (PB35),Ultramarine Blue (esp. green shade)|
|Light Blue||Manganese Blue Hue (PB15)||Cobalt Turquoise (PG50), Cerulean Blue (PB35), your cyan (next row)|
|Cyan||Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)||Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:1), Prussian Blue (PB27)|
|Yellow-Green||Phthalo Yellow Green (PG36, PY3)||DIY from any yellow + Phthalo Green Yellow Shade (PG36) or Phthalo Green Blue Shade (PG7)|
|Green Gold||Rich Green Gold (PY129)||Quin Gold|
|Granulating Green||Serpentine Genuine||Other granulating greens include Viridian (PG18) – more blue; Chromium Oxide Green (PG17) – more muted; other DS Primateks including Jadeite and Green Apatite. You could also mix a granulating green by adding a Phthalo Green to a granulating earth tone such as yellow ochre, raw or burnt sienna. Kim Crick’s recommendation to mix up a Serpentine clone is Phthalo Green (PG7) + Magnesium Brown (PY119) or Lunar Earth (PBr11).|
|Muted Green||Chromium Oxide Green (PG17)||Any of the above would work here too. FWIW, I personally find Chromium Oxide Green more useful than Serpentine. You could also try muted green mixes such as Sap Green.|
|Mixing Green||Hooker’s Green (PG7, PY150, PO48)||Choose any mixed green that resembles your natural landscape, or DIY from Phthalo Green + Quin Gold or any other yellow/earth yellow.|
|Gray-Green||Undersea Green (PB29, PY150, PO48)||Olive Green, or DIY mix from Ultramarine + Quin Gold|
|Dark Shadow Green||Perylene Green (PBk31)||Sennelier Forest Green, Qor Hooker’s Green, DS Jadeite, or DIY mix from dark blue + gold|
|Buff||Buff Titanium (PW6:1)||I like light value Raw Sienna for a buff color or Potter’s Pink to mix granulating pastels|
|Raw Sienna||Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7)||Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Quin Gold|
|Earth Orange||Italian Burnt Sienna (PBr7)||Burnt Sienna (PBr7), Transparent Red Oxide (PR101), Quin Burnt Orange (PO48)|
|Brown||Burnt Umber (PBr7)||Transparent Brown Oxide (PR101)|
|Dark/Cool Brown||Raw Umber (PBr7)||Van Dyck Brown|
|Warm Grays||Bloodstone Genuine, Black Tourmaline Genuine||French Gray, DIY palette mix|
|Shadow Gray||Shadow Violet||DS Moonglow, DIY palette mix|
|Cool Gray||Payne’s Gray||Indigo, DIY mix (blue + black)|
|Black||Neutral Tint||any black|
As I examine these colors, I noticed that I tend to gravitate toward single-pigment brights and mixers, whereas Laws suggests colors that are closer to the more muted nature colors you’d actually want to use on the page. Laws is designing a palette for use in the field, where you might not have the time or space to be mixing a lot of colors. I’m sure that as I do more nature journaling, I will see a lot more value in these premixed and premuted colors.
4 thoughts on “Artists’ Palette Profiles: John Muir Laws”
Which version book are you using? The 2016 ed by heyday books on page 83 he says it’s Pthalo Blue (Green Shade) PB15… right after the Pthalo Yellow Green that blew my mind!
I am curious about the art toolkit folio palette BUT can’t justify it. (I instead have a hacked magnetic empty Derwent pencil tin with removable tray, with full sized paint pans and my paint selection. Best way to manage my larger brushes and still travel. Holds a ridiculous number of pans or pans/brushes or pans/pens/pencils or whatever layout my Lego-minded brain desires…!)
Phthalo sorry autocorrect doesn’t like that word (eyeroll)
Ahh, I might have gotten an older one out of the library or just missed it.
Why did Phthalo Yellow Green blow your mind??
Phthalo Yellow Green is a convenience mix I probably should’ve started with first! Ah well. (Several green paint tubes to use up before I can justify buying another XD )