Color Spotlight: Phthalo Green Blue Shade (PG7)

Daniel Smith – Phthalo Green (Blue Shade)

Phthalo Green (PG7) is a super vivid, deep, cool (blue-toned) green. To me, it feels like a glowing, hidden pond deep in the rainforest. It is incredibly bright; some folks find it “unnatural” so it may be most useful as a mixer than a natural landscape color.

(There’s another Phthalo Green – PG36 – which is more yellow-toned, that I’ll discuss in a future post.)

Like all the Phthalos, this green is extremely strong and staining. Some people don’t like that about it, and it does have a tendency to overwhelm mixes with weaker colors… but I love it! I’m lazy and I love a color that doesn’t make me work. I just have to make sure my palette is full of similarly vivid colors that can hold their own.

Read more

Watercolor Brushes 101

Some of my commonly used brushes: Da Vinci Casaneo Quill #4, Princeton Velvetouch Flat Wash 3/4″, Etchr Round #10, Princeton Heritage Round #10, Princeton Velvetouch Round #8, Etchr Round #6, Princeton Heritage Round #3, Princeton Velvetouch Round #2, Princeton Velvetouch Script Liner #2

Of the major categories of watercolor supplies (paint, paper, brushes), brushes were the last ones that I got into. Actually, I put it off, improving my paints and papers while continuing to use cheapo brushes from the discount bin (which I chose based on the color of their handle.) It just seemed complicated! There are so many brushes with various attributes, and I had no way of telling what’s good and bad about them.

Well, I’ve now done my research, so if you’re still stuck where I was six months ago, let me break it down for you! 

Read more

What’s the best masking tape for watercolor?

A pile of tapes I’ve tried.

Lists of watercolor supplies usually including “masking tape,” but what’s it for? Why do you need it? What do you do with it once you’ve got it? And what’s the best kind to get? When I was first gathering watercolor supplies, I often found myself frustrated with the vagueness on supply lists. I wanted more detail so that I could get it right the first time. Since I did not get it right the first time, let me pass my hard-won wisdom onto you!

Read more

Color Spotlight: Transparent Pyrrol Orange (PO71)

Daniel Smith – Transparent Pyrrol Orange

PO71 oranges are highly transparent and very vibrant oranges! The Daniel Smith version pictured here is more reddish than some of the others. That said, it should be noted that I bought the DS TPO in 2022, so it’s one of the newer iterations. I am told that the older version was even more red and a bit more muted and earthy.

Read more

How to Build a Watercolor Palette from the Ground Up

I spend a lot of time researching paints before I buy one, planning how it will fit into my existing palette: what niche it will fill; how it will play with my existing paints; what I’ll be able to paint and mix with it that I can’t do now, or can’t do as easily. I’ve had some triumphs (THIS COLOR IS AMAZING) as well as some missteps (Huh, I just… never use this one.) So I have A Lot Of Thoughts on how to build a palette from the ground up that works for you, full of lovely paints you’ll enjoy and that will be versatile enough for everything you want to do! 

tl;dr All this is subjective. There are no rules. Get the colors you want.

Six well-loved tubes of paint from the Daniel Smith Essentials collection.

Read more

Color Spotlight: Quinacridone Gold

Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold: graded wash, opacity/glazing/bloom tests, and color mixes.

One thing you’ll always read about Quinacridone Gold is that it used to be a single pigment, PO49, until 2017, when the supply of that pigment ran out altogether. Artists bemoan the loss of this pigment which, in retrospect, they imbue with almost magical properties. I’m too young in watercolor years to have tried it, but personally, I love the mixed Quin Gold hues that you can find now, so I’m happy!

Read more

Everything I Loved & Learned From Kolbie Blume’s 10 Day Watercolor Challenge

My painting from Kolbie Blume’s Painting the Wilderness Challenge Day 2 – Layered Mountains. A yellow sky with sunbeams and layered blue-green mountains, with a soaring bird.

From November 20 to 29, 2021, I took on the 10-Day Painting the Wilderness Watercolor Challenge by Kolbie Blume. This turned out be an absolutely fantastic experience for a lot of reasons!

Below, the reasons. And then, the paintings!

Read more

Adventures in Daniel Smith Dot Cards II: Earth Tones

Swatches of earth tones overlaid over Daniel Smith dot cards on a messy desk.

Previously: After swatching out all the colors from my 238-color Dot Card, I gave my thoughts on all the exciting color categories: yellow, red, purple, and so on. Now, I give my thoughts on the earth tones and grays. I know these can be important colors, especially in realistic landscape and portrait paintings (neither of which I have admittedly really done), but gosh, it’s hard to get excited about them.

Since I started painting I have actively resisted getting into earth tones and browns; the closest I get is having Quinacridone Gold which many people would consider more of a warm yellow. I just always want bright colors instead! Which is honestly not a bad impulse in watercolor, because you can always make muted tones from brights (by mixing complementary colors), but you cannot go the other way around. Anyway, life’s too short to buy paints that don’t spark joy.

But maybe I am missing something? Maybe earth tones CAN spark joy? Will this dot card change my mind??!

Read more

Color Spotlight: Quinacridone Rose (PV19)

After exploring lots of colors shallowly through Adventures in Daniel Smith Dot Cards, I thought I’d take some time to do deep-dives on selected colors: whether it’s because they’re my favorite, reliable, palette staples, or because they’re colors I want to investigate further and learn more about.

Today, we start with a palette staple and one of my first artist grade paints: Quinacridone Rose! This is the cool red/magenta shade from the Daniel Smith Essentials set (which I totally love and recommend as a starter kit if you’re looking to get started in artist grade paints).

Daniel Smith – Quinacridone Rose

Read more