My First Watercolor Palette

While moving some of my watercolor stuff, I found the key to the first complete watercolor palette I put together from professional paints after I switched from Cotman student grade! I made it in an Etchr ceramic mini-palette with 19 wells. I carefully researched what I was going to put in here, picturing that it … Read more

Color Spotlight: Phthalo Blue Red Shade (PB15:6)

Is Phthalo Blue Red Shade actually red-toned, neutral, or still green-toned but simply less so than its cousin Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB15:3)? I’ve heard all opinions, and I suppose it’s a judgment call. (Is the color blue you see the same as the color blue I see?) My opinion is that it is a … Read more

Desert Palette Revisited

My Desert Palette, which I used to paint my Vegas travel sketches and post-travel paintings, contained 26 carefully chosen colors. So which ones did I end up using the most? And which could I have left behind? Most Valuable Colors These were the colors I found myself reaching for again and again: Also Good Liabilities … Read more

Travel Sketches: Las Vegas/Mojave Desert

Ash Grove at Spring Valley Ranch. Painted November 26, 2022 (after returning from the trip, based on a composite of travel photos).

Last week, I was in the suburbs of Las Vegas for a family wedding. I was excited to see the surrounding desert landscape, as I’ve never been to the desert! We didn’t have a ton of time outside of family activities and our ambitious stretch goal Grand Canyon trip got predictably cut (though I did see it from the plane window!), but I was delighted with our naturey day trips in the immediate area.

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What’s the difference between Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150) and Rich Green Gold (PY129)?

Top: Mission Gold – Green Gold (PY150), a Nickel Azo Yellow.
Bottom: Daniel Smith – Rich Green Gold (PY129).

Both of these golds are highly transparent and dispersive, and both are made from nickel. Nickel Azo Yellow is more of a yellow – warm and ochreish in masstone and cool and lemony in dilute – while Rich Green Gold is more, well, green! It looks to me like pickles. Both make more muted, naturalistic greens with Phthalo Green than a bright yellow would.

For my money, they have roughly the same role, so which of these should I pick for my palette?

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Color Spotlight: Cerulean Blue Genuine (PB36)

Da Vinci - Cerulean Blue Genuine
Da Vinci – Cerulean Blue Genuine

The color Cerulean, a light sky blue, is traditionally made from the PB35 or PB36 pigments. It’s a semi-opaque, granulating, green-toned blue with limited range of values, erring on the side of being light-colored. It’s nonstaining and highly liftable, making it a good choice for skies (if you like granulating skies). Personally, I usually like a less textured sky – but Cerulean has other uses as well, such as being a beautiful textured green mixer, and muting earth tones into cool, granulating browns.

Warning: Be careful to look at pigment numbers. Some brands, like Mission Gold, call their PB15 Phthalo Blue “Cerulean.” Don’t make the mistake I did when I first started painting, and get “Cerulean Hue” (from Da Vinci or any other brand), made from Phthalo Blue + white. PB15 is not the same color, and will not have the same granulation/magic/mixing properties.

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Preparing Colors for the Desert

My partner’s sibling is getting married near Las Vegas in a few weeks, and even though it will be a short trip and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to paint, I’m excited to prep a new palette for a new biome (I’ve never been to the desert!) and to bust out some not-usually-used colors. 

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