Artists’ Palette Profiles: Kolbie Blume

Social media watercolorist Kolbie Blume is an important and formative watercolor teacher to me, and some of my first “eureka!” watercolor lessons were from their 10-Day #PaintingtheWilderness Challenge on Youtube. I don’t know what’s on Kolbie’s palette these days (I suspect it changes regularly), so today, I will be comparing my colors to those that are suggested in the introduction to Kolbie’s two books:Wilderness Watercolor Landscapes and Stunning Watercolor Seascapes (which just came out a few weeks ago!)

The exercise of comparing my palette is actually incredibly relevant and necessary in this case, since it’s what I’ve been doing continuously as I attempt to actually paint these tutorials with my paints.

The Palette

These are the colors that Kolbie suggests as an “extended palette” for the purpose of painting the tutorials in Wilderness Watercolor Landscapes. All the tutorials suggest using colors from this list.

  • Lemon Yellow
  • Pyrrol Scarlet
  • Permanent Red
  • Opera Rose
  • Perylene Violet
  • Phthalo Turquoise (I think the DS version – a deep teal)
  • Indigo
  • Payne’s Gray
  • Prussian Blue
  • Prussian Green* (I never actually saw this used in a tutorial)
  • Hooker’s Green
  • Perylene Green
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Umber
  • Lamp Black
  • White gouache (Dr Ph Martin’s Bleedproof White)

And, here’s the list from Stunning Watercolor Seascapes.

  • WN Lemon Yellow Deep
  • WN Scarlet Lake
  • DS Quinacridone Rose
  • WN Opera Rose
  • WN Payne’s Gray
  • DS Prussian Blue
  • WN Cobalt Turquoise Light
  • DS Phthalo Turquoise
  • Sennelier Viridian
  • DS Hooker’s Green
  • DS Yellow Ochre
  • DS Burnt Umber
  • White gouache (Dr Ph Martin’s Bleedproof White)

Comparison to My Paints

For the WWL column, because I didn’t know the brand, I guessed.

YellowWN Winsor Lemon (PY175)WN Lemon Yellow Deep (PY159)WN Winsor Lemon (PY175) or WN Winsor Yellow (PY154)
Red-OrangeDS Pyrrol Scarlet (PR255)WN Scarlet Lake (PR188)✓ WN Scarlet Lake (PR188) or DS Quin Coral (PR209) when possible
Middle RedDS Permanent Red (PR170)DV Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19) or mixed reds with Quin Magenta + Transparent Pyrrol Orange
MagentaDS Quinacridone Rose (PV19)DV Red Rose Deep (PV19) or HO Quinacridone Magenta (PR122)
Hot PinkWN Opera Rose (PR122, BV10)WN Opera Rose (PR122, BV10)Mission Gold Bright Opera. Though for many of the tutorials I used Quin Rose or Quin Magenta instead of Opera.
PurpleDS Perylene Violet (PV29)✓ DS Perylene Violet (PV29). But before I had it, I used mixed purples. In “Misty Mountain,” I used a totally different color (Phthalo Turquoise), since it was monochrome.
Dark BlueDS Indigo (PB60, PBk6)DS Indanthrone Blue (PB60). I’m not a fan of indigo because it’s a mix with black, which looks dull to me. I think Indanthrone is usually muted enough without black, but it can also be muted further with a complementary color, like an earth orange.
Blue-GrayWN Payne’s Grey (PB15, PBk6, PV19)WN Payne’s Grey (PB15, PBk6, PV19)Neutral Tint or Indanthrone Blue (depending on whether it is being used as a gray or a blue)
Green-BlueDS Prussian Blue (PB27)DS Prussian Blue (PB27)I did use Prussian Blue (PB27) here for awhile but I wound up bumping it from my palette and now use either Indanthrone or Marine Blue depending on the situation. Kolbie uses Prussian Blue as a primary cyan for things like the sky and mixing greens and purples, and I prefer the brighter Phthalos for most of those use cases.
Light TurquoiseWN Cobalt Turquoise Light (PG50)✓ same pigment, different brand – Schmincke Cobalt Turquoise (PG50)
Dark TurquoiseDS Phthalo TurquoiseDS Phthalo TurquoiseHolbein Marine Blue (PB16)
Blue-GreenSennelier ViridianDa Vinci Phthalo Green (PG7)
GreenDS Hooker’s Green (PG36, PY3, PY150, PO48)DS Hooker’s Green (PG36, PY3, PY150, PO48)Mixed greens with Phthalo Green (PG7) and any number of yellow-oranges.
Dark GreenDS Perylene Green (PBk31)Mixed dark greens with Indanthrone and gold
Yellow OchreDS Yellow Ochre (PY43)DS Yellow Ochre (PY43)Through most of the first book I used DS Quin Gold (PY150, PO48), which I now might mix myself; later I got Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7) which is a better one-for-one with yellow ochre
Burnt UmberDS Burnt Umber (PBr7)DS Burnt Umber (PBr7)DS Transparent Brown Oxide (PR101), or mixed browns with blue and Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)
BlackLamp Black (PBk6)MaimeriBlu Neutral Tint (PBk29) or mixed blacks with Indanthrone + orange
WhiteDr. Ph Martin’s Bleedproof WhiteDr. Ph Martin’s Bleedproof White✓ Holbein white gouache

The main color I’m surprised not to find on either list is an orange or earth orange, like Burnt Sienna or my beloved Transparent Red Oxide (PR101). I like to use oranges a lot in earth mixes or to mute blues. I think Kolbie tends to opt for using more muted blues to begin with (e.g. Payne’s Gray, Indigo) where I will prefer to use complementary colors to get muted tones.

As always, my intent here is not to say “my colors are better,” but just to show different ways of filling the same slots. It’s rarely necessary to go out and buy the exact color that an artist has in order to do their tutorial or imitate their style. I did do that occasionally – for example, when doing the 10-Day Challenge, I bought Payne’s Gray because it came up so often… but I didn’t end up liking it as much as my “in a pinch” substitution of Indanthrone Blue! In the end, I generally found that my workarounds made me happier, and that is not because of any objective difference between my colors and Kolbie’s, but because color is so personal and subjective.

I hope this inspires you to make your own color substitutions even if all you do with them is slightly tweak a tutorial. It’s fun to put your own spin on it, even if it’s just by substituting one brown for another, slightly different brown!

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