Happy autumn! I love fall – it’s my favorite season – so I’ve been super excited to collect fall colors and do fall paintings lately! I’ve put together this theme palette focusing on the warm tones of autumn, like colorful leaves and pumpkins. It could also be considered a golden hour palette because it’s designed to bring out those warm, golden, sunshiney moments right before sunset.
This is my second theme palette, after the Neon Palette, and it was so much fun to build that I’m champing at the bit to make the rest of the seasons. For now, it’s perfect for making seasonally-appropriate paintings!
I chose my colors after collecting fall inspo photos and attempting to paint some of them, trying various options for colors. For fall images, I needed lots of yellows, oranges, earth tones!
Here are my notes on all the colors in the order in which I arranged them in my palette and the header illustration.
1. WN Winsor Yellow (PY154) – A bold, bright, middle yellow, perfect for bright yellow leaves like honeylocusts. To get the warm vivid yellows of fall, it was important to me to choose a primary yellow that’s not too “cool” or greenish.
2. HO Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (PY110) – A lovely butternut squash or pumpkin yellow-orange. A similar hue can be mixed with orange and yellow, but I love the bold clear tone of this one, and it makes a nice mixer with other warm shades. A true fall convenience color.
3. DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71) – A deep, transparent, reddish orange which makes lovely deep orange tones. You can never have enough yellows and oranges in a fall palette.
4. DS Deep Scarlet (PR175) – The boldest of the earth reds (or a rather muted version of a bright scarlet). Wonderful for mixing warm browns. Deepens oranges and reds. I considered Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet (PR206) in this role (aka Brown Madder), but I found that I liked DS better in every scenario.
5. DV Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19) – A wonderful deep crimson that dilutes to a rosy pink. The perfect color for bold red maple leaves. Also takes the place of a “cool red”.
6. DS Indanthrone Blue (PB60) – A moody dark violet-blue. To be honest, despite this being a workhorse color in my main palette, I haven’t reached for it much in the autumn palette. Its main use case in the autumn palette is making things look haunted. It also mixes a striking black with the orange, which can be useful.
7. DV Prussian Blue (PB27) – Surprisingly, despite this not even making the cut into my main palette, it has proven an absolute superstar of the fall palette! With a bit of yellow, it mixes up deep jewel tone teals and forest greens. This is definitely my fall blue of choice.
8. MI Green Gold (PY150) – Also known as Nickel Azo Yellow, this is another superstar fall color because it serves as an earthy yellow in mass or a “cool” yellow in dilute. It’s easily dispersed to make warm, golden-hour sunbeams. Totally transparent and fabulously mixable, making wonderful glowing oranges and greens as well as mixing gorgeously into earth tones. With this palette, I can do a DIY Quin Gold mix (PY150 + PO48).
9. DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (PBr7) – A similar mass tone color to Nickel Azo Yellow, but very different mixes. While NAY makes green with blue, MANS resists going green so it can make yellow/tan-toned blues and greens.
10. DS Transparent Brown Oxide (PR101) – I really like this transparent alternative to umber, and it earned its place in my autumn palette when I experimented with mixing and saw what a nice, cohesive range of autumnal tones it makes. It basically turns every color it touches into a rich jewel tone.
11. DS Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48) – Bright, granulating, glowing earth orange! The counterpart of PY150 in making Quin Gold. Tried and true Transparent Red Oxide was in the running the earth orange role, but in this case I decided to branch out. The only problem is that QBO doesn’t do darks as well as TRO. But since earth orange is such a crucial fall color, I decided it would be appropriate to split it into two instead of relying on one versatile color like I normally do. I’m making up for the darks with Transparent Brown Oxide.
12. DS Bordeaux (PV32) – Deep wine red. This happens to be one of my favorite colors to wear in fall, so I wanted to put it in this palette. I considered Perylene Violet as a sort of earthy violet-brown, but decided to swap it for Bordeaux at the last second for variety; Perylene Violet is in my main palette, but I like Bordeaux and wanted to put it somewhere. Besides, I didn’t otherwise have a magenta in this palette. I don’t think the palette really needs one – Alizarin Crimson holds the cool red role – but this is still a fun color for fall mums and cranberry sauce.
13. DV Cerulean Genuine (PB36) – Granulating sky blue. I always found this color a bit disappointing in my main palette because it’s never quite as bright as I expect it to be, but I thought a bit dull is on-theme for the autumn palette. Now that I reconsider it, I often seen bright, clear blue skies in autumn, so maybe Phthalo Turquoise would be better. That said, Cerulean offers some nice granulation that looks especially good with Deep Scarlet in sunset clouds.
14. DS Serpentine Genuine – An interesting, granulating yellow-green that makes a nice one-stroke field of drying grass, or mixes wonderfully with Prussian Blue to make a range of deep greens. Great for spots of green in color-changing foliage.
Minimum Essential Colors
While all of these colors have earned their place in the fall palette, some are more useful than others. If you want to put together an autumn palette with less space or money, I’d say that my most useful autumn “primary trio” is Nickel Azo Yellow (Green Gold), Deep Scarlet, and Prussian Blue. The earthy yellow and scarlet mix a wide range of earthy orange tones that scream “fall,” while Prussian Blue mutes them further and provides the darks necessary for value contrast, as well as being a really versatile blue (and green mixer). All three colors together mix to black.
If you have more space, Quin Burnt Orange provides lovely granulation and bright pops of earthy orange that are so extremely fall. Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone is also a great color because it makes those crisp apple and maple leaf reds, and also mixes similarly to a primary magenta like Quin Rose.
Main Palette Comparison
I often find that my theme palettes are just rehashes of my typical main palette with a few variations, and Autumn is no exception! Here’s a comparison of how my Autumn palette shakes out against my main palette.
|Slot||Main Palette||Autumn Palette|
|Primary Yellow||Winsor Yellow (PY154)||✓|
|Gold||DS Rich Green Gold (PY129)||MI Green Gold (PY150) aka Nickel Azo Yellow|
|Earth Yellow||MANS (PBr7)||✓|
|Yellow Orange||HO Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (PY110)|
|Orange||DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71)||✓|
|Earth Orange||DS Transparent Red Oxide (PR101)||DS Quinacridone Burnt Orange (PO48)|
|Brown||DS Transparent Brown Oxide (PR101)|
|Coral||DS Quinacridone Coral (PR209)|
|Earth Red||DS Deep Scarlet (PR175)||✓|
|Crimson||DV Alizarin Crimson Quinacridone (PV19)|
|Primary Magenta||HO Purple Magenta (PR122)|
|Violet||DS Perylene Violet (PV29)||DS Bordeaux (PV32)|
|Violet-Blue||HO Ultramarine Deep (PB29)|
|Dark Violet-Blue||DS Indanthrone Blue (PB60)||✓|
|Middle Blue||DS Cobalt Blue (PB28)|
|Granulating Sky Blue||DV Cerulean Genuine (PB36)|
|Granulating Opaque Turquoise||SH Cobalt Turquoise (PG50)|
|Primary Cyan||WN Phthalo Turquoise (PB16)|
|Dark Cyan||DV Prussian Blue (PB27)|
|Green||DV Phthalo Green (PG7)|
|Granulating Yellow-Green||DS Serpentine Genuine||✓|
There are 6 colors in common with my main palette (out of a total of 14 in the Autumn Palette). The biggest differences are that the autumn palette has more items in the orange/earth space (unsurprisingly), and has fewer and different blues. The only blue in common is Indanthrone Blue, and even that is honestly marginal in the autumn palette. All the blues in the Autumn Palette are on the muted side, compared to the very bright blues in my main palette.