Artists’ Palette Profiles: John Muir Laws

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 compare my palette to the colors he suggests in his book.

John Muir Laws’ Suggested Colors

  • Hansa Yellow Light
  • Hansa Yellow Medium
  • New Gamboge
  • Quinacridone Gold (PO49 version 🙁 )
  • Permanent Orange
  • Quinacridone Sienna
  • Pyrrol Red
  • Quinacridone Pink
  • Dioxazine Violet
  • Indanthrone Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Manganese Blue Hue
  • Phthalo Blue (not specified which, but presumably Green Shade)
  • Phthalo Yellow Green
  • Rich Green Gold
  • Serpentine Genuine
  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Hooker’s Green
  • Undersea Green
  • Perylene Green
  • Buff Titanium
  • Monte Amiata Natural Sienna
  • Italian Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Bloodstone Genuine
  • Shadow Violet
  • Black Tourmaline Genuine
  • Payne’s Gray
  • Neutral Tint

Whew! That’s a lot of colors (30, to be exact). Thirty is in some ways a convenient number of colors because it’s exactly what will fit in a Art Toolkit Folio Palette. Let’s see how I’d match this from my library of colors.

My Version

SlotJML HasI Have
Light YellowHansa Yellow Light (PY3)Winsor Lemon (PY175)
Medium YellowHansa Yellow Medium (PY97)Winsor Yellow (PY154)
Orange-YellowNew Gamboge (PY110 + PY97)Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (PY110)
GoldQuinacridone Gold (PO49)Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150)
OrangePermanent Orange (PO62)Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71)
Bright SiennaQuinacridone Sienna (PR209 + PY150 + PO48)Quinacridone Coral (PR209) – Not the same color, but a component that lets me essentially mix it.
Bright RedPyrrol Red (PR254)Scarlet Lake (PR188)
PinkQuinacridone Pink (PV42)Red Rose Deep (PV19)
PurpleDioxazine Violet (PV23)
Dark BlueIndanthrone Blue (PB60)
Mid BlueCobalt Blue (PB28)
Light BlueManganese Blue Hue (PB15)Cobalt Turquoise (PG50)
CyanPhthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)
Yellow-GreenPhthalo Yellow Green (PG36, PY3)Phthalo Green Yellow Shade (PG36) – a component
Green GoldRich Green Gold (PY129)
Granulating GreenSerpentine Genuine
Sage GreenChromium Oxide Greenn/a
Mixing GreenHooker’s Green (PG7, PY150, PO48)Phthalo Green (PG7) – a component
Gray-GreenUndersea Green (PB29, PY150, PO48)Ultramarine Deep (PB29) – a component.
Dark Shadow GreenPerylene Green (PBk31)
BuffBuff Titanium (PW6:1)
Raw SiennaMonte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7)
Burnt SiennaItalian Burnt Sienna (PBr7)Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)
Burnt UmberBurnt Umber (PBr7)
Raw UmberRaw Umber (PBr7)
Warm GrayBloodstone Genuinen/a
Shadow GrayShadow Violetn/a
Another Warm GrayBlack Tourmaline Genuinen/a
Cool GrayPayne’s Grayn/a
BlackNeutral Tint

Laws has more colors than I typically use, so this is nearly everything in my library, with the exception of a few reduplicative colors, such as Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Burnt Sienna Deep (both of which have the same palette role as Transparent Red Oxide), or oddballs like Potter’s Pink, etc.

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”

  1. 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…!)

  2. 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 )


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