San Pietro colours

There are a few colours I have on my two palettes that I love using when I am painting urban scenes, especially city scenes with lots of signage. The reason I have Naples Yellow, Lavender, Cobalt Green and Cobalt Teal on the palettes is because they’re semi-opaque pigments, so I can use them quite thickly and effectively on top of dark areas like windows and doors.

Cobalt Green is a new addition to the group. I found good use for it the other day when I was painting Épicerie San Pietro.

You might have already tried this out with your pigments, but if you’re not sure if your colours are transparent, opaque or semi-opaque, test them out by painting with them on top of a dark (and dry) swatch of watercolour (like I did below), or across a black line drawn from a thick Sharpie pen. The transparent pigments will disappear and the opaque pigments will sit on top of the dark surface, like these four did below.

19 Comments on “San Pietro colours”

  1. Janice Kelly says:

    Great tip. Merci.


  2. charlypriest says:

    Beautiful painting. Interesting to learn your process to make those type of paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And what brands are these beautiful colors?


  4. Gorgeous, I love this – thank you for sharing xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Do they live in your regular palette or a separate one? I like some opaques a lot but when they’re in my regular palette I tend to use them in mixes and make muddy colors very quickly…ben thinking of making a tiny one of very opaque colors.


    • Suhita, they live in my larger studio and plein air watercolour palette, not in my travel sketching palette. They need a spot where they can’t poison other colours with their opaqueness. My travel palette is mostly transparent and non-staining. The only troublemaker in there is Cobalt Teal because it never dries, but I can’t live without it.
      As for muddiness, yes, these colours make mud if you mix them but in these city scenes I tend to use them on their own when I need spots of brightness. I use lots of Cadmium Red for that too, but forgot to mention that. Here is the bigger palette:

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Monique says:

    Thank you..I wondered about the green:)


  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I am glad you are discussing colors. I am in need of a shift in my palette colors as I am going to Costa Rica this spring. I will need some more jungle-like colors as well as some bright colors. I just keep thinking about all of the different green colors. Having never been there I just don’t know what to do. I enjoy looking at other people’s palettes for various projects.


    • Lisa, I went to Costa Rica a few years ago and I changed my palette for that too. This green and lots of bright blues would be perfect, as well as some bright yellows and oranges. I didn’t use a whole lot of earth tones when I was there. Have a wonderful time there!


      • Lisa at Greenbow says:

        Shari, Thanks so much for the tip. I wondered if you had been there before since you are a world traveler. I don’t get to travel all that much so this is one of those once in a life time trips. I am so looking forward to it.


  8. joantav says:

    That cobalt green is a beautiful color and really catches your eye. Lovely job on this!!


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