Spring Cleaning

It’s a rainy day in Montreal, so a good time to do studio stuff, like cleaning out my palette.  The 18 colours in my Heritage travel palette change often but in spring it’s great to scrub it out, get rid of the winter mud in the corners, and fill it up again.

Fresh paint is like candy. When the palette is newly stocked with colour, you don’t know what to pick. Each colour is equally delicious.

The pigments are mostly the same as what I had in here before, with a few small changes:

  • Quinacridone Gold has been replaced by New Gamboge. Both are warm yellows, but New Gamboge will be easier to obtain in the near future as the stocks of Quin. Gold pigment run out.
  • Organic Vermilion has been replaced by Cadmium Red because I wanted a true red, and Vermilion is more orangey.
  • Prussian Blue replaces Phthalo Blue. I like the greens it makes much more — a little duller and a little more like the greens you find in nature.
  • Sepia replaces Burnt Umber. I’ve been looking at John Yardley’s work lately and love what he does with Sepia, so thought I’d give it a go. If I don’t use it, out it will go in the next round.
  • Raw Sienna and Yellow Ochre both have a permanent spot on the palette, and even though they look the same, they perform different functions in a painting. I love the transparent warm glow I can give to a sky with a light wash of Raw Sienna. And Yellow Ochre is invaluable when you need an opaque warm tone.

So there you have it. A clean closet and a new spring wardrobe.



35 Comments on “Spring Cleaning”

  1. shirleycovey says:

    What’s this about Quin Gold running out? They have stopped making it? I just got New Gamboge and I see it resembles QG. I use Transparent Orange Prryol and love it. Have you tried Manganese Blue? It’s transparent, lifts easily and doesn’t stain. And, yes, I prefer Raw Sienna over Yellow Ochre because of YO’s opaque tendency. Thanks for sharing your palette!



  2. These colours look so fresh and beautiful, happiness in a box! and no calories 🙂
    Can’t wait to see them in action.

    I have a question on the Cobalt Teal pigment, you noted that it is the M.Graham (PB28). I thought you were using the D.S. Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50). Are they almost the same?


  3. Gil Zarins says:

    I don’t know what’s better in this post your perfect swatches or the writing. “Fresh paint is like candy”, “equally delicious”, “A clean closet and a new spring wardrobe” reading this made me smile.


  4. Cidney says:

    Love it Shari. I am getting ready to fill a pallet for the first time. I enjoy your post.
    I am new to water color, thanks for the inspiration. Cidney


  5. M. L. Kappa says:

    Very appetizing! I see you only carry one green – I tend to have a whole lot, perylene green, green gold etc. Maybe I should start mixing more…


    • Marina, in my other small palette urban sketching palette, I do carry more greens. I have some spring green, perylene green and sap green in there too. But when I’m using my larger Heritage palette for painting (quarter sheet and larger) I mix all my greens with blues and yellows and Phthalo Green. If the greens you have are working for you, just do what you’ve been doing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • M. L. Kappa says:

        Thanks for the tips, Shari! I know all ways are good, but I love to experiment and try new things, so I really appreciate your taking the time.


  6. Great palette Shari. I have always loved New Gamboge. Did you know W&N rebooted it a couple of years ago and now it comes out of the tube looking very dark, but as you’ve discovered turns into a beautiful colour as soon as you wet it. My students love it ! Also I agree about Prussian Blue. Much better behaved than Phthalo.


    • Graham, thanks for writing. I used New Gamboge a long time ago and then stopped for some reason. Now that I am using it again, I like it even more. I can see that it was rebooted because it seems to me it used to look more orangey. Is that correct? I do love it for mixing dark greens. And even grassy greens when mixed with Phthalo Green.
      I had Phthalo Blue in my palette for a long time too and found it too strong and staining. I am enjoying the behaviour of Prussian Blue much better. Glad to hear you agree.


      • Shari, thanks for replying. Yes, quite correct, New Gamboge did used to look more orangy. I think we all tend to do the same. We come across a pigment we haven’t tried before and use it for some time before remembering our original choice and thinking “Oh yes, that wasn’t so bad. I think I’ll go back to it.” But if you don’t experiment once in a while you don’t learn.


  7. TonyU says:

    Katerina and Gil have said it better than I can. Re the sepia … John Yardley’s a wonderful artist but he’s a retired English bank manager and you’re the Queen of Colour! Looking forward to seeing how you marry the two together. Sure you’ll find a way – you always do!


  8. Judy Sopher says:

    I use the Phthalos-green and blue–but find they get all over everything. Is Prussian blue more controllable? I would like to try switching. Is there anything to use in place of phthalo green? I also like new gamboge.


    • Judy, you have to use the Phthalos in very tiny dabs. They are staining and very strong. I love Phthalo green for mixing with yellows to make bright greens, especially with New Gamboge, but if you use too much of it your greens will look like Astroturf. I always start with yellow on the brush and add Phthalo to that, not vice versa.


      • Judy Sopher says:

        You wrote that Prussian blue is not a stainer. It isn’t just painting with phthalo blue that is a problem but it gets all over my hands, and the other colors in my smaller palette. Maybe I have to learn to be neater but I may try Prussian blue for awhile and see. Thanks.


  9. Kristine says:

    Shari, Daniel Smith continues to make quin gold ….. the formulation (ie the pigment number) is slightly different. I was checking for the old formulation last January and could not find it , but found the paint display stocked with the new formulation.


  10. Susan B says:

    I too am a John Yardley fan. re: his sepia. In his DVDs he says that he uses “warm sepia” which I live in his paintings of interiors where he uses it to paint grand pianos and other pieces of beautiful furniture. BUT – Winsor and Newton discontinued Warm Sepia several years ago. I doubt that their current Sepia will be anything like what Yardley uses. If youfind a substitute for the old Warm Sepia, please blog about it. I’d love to find one……


    • Thanks for the valuable info Susan. Maybe my sepia will be awful and then it will disappear from the palette as fast as I came in. I also love Yardley’s interiors and marvel at how he simplifies shapes and values. A true master.


      • Susan Biddle says:

        It really is a shame that Winsor & Newton discontinued Warm Sepia and I had emailed them several years ago when I had first found the work of John Yardley and asked WN how they could discontinue a color that was so loved by one of England’s greatest watercolorists? And I asked them to reconsider… to no avail… of course… LOL I wonder if you could add a little yellow to their current sepia and get it somewhat close to the old Warm Sepia?


      • Thanks for the good info Susan. I wish I could compare both of these to see how different the previous one was. Do you have any samples or have you seen any online? I am curious now and would love to know more. Keep me posted if you find out the difference.


      • Susan B says:

        More info. I did not keep the email from Winsor & Newton, but did remember that I had posted about it at Wet Canvas. From that post that I made in 2011, W&N told me to mix a little of their Burnt Sienna with their Sepia and you will get a close approximation of their discontinued Warm Sepia color. I had forgotten about that. Hope that helps !!


      • Susan B says:

        I have never had any of the Warm Sepia unfortunately. I found out about it too late. And I can’t find any way to contact John Yardley to ask him what he uses now. I wonder if one of the galleries that represents him would forward the question to him? Hmmmmmm


  11. Jody J Bryan says:

    Enjoyed this paint color post. Which cerulean do you use, PB 35 or PB 36? I’m trying to decide and would like your input.


    • Hi Jody. The Cerulean I use is made my Winsor Newton and it’s PY 35. I also like M. Graham Cerulean which is PY 36. The only one I don’t like at all is Daniel Smith Cerulean which is very weak. Their Cerulean Blue Chromium is much nicer.


  12. Nancy G. says:

    Hi Shari,

    Your new colors look amazing! I am wondering about your Phthalo green. Why brand is it? Many thanks. I hope to see you up in Rockport this summer painting and/or see some of your work from there!!


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