When I got back to watercolors after a 12-year break I realized that not only did I need to expand my color palette for animal paintings but I also needed to expand my knowledge. Enter Jan Hart’s “The Watercolor Artist’s Guide to Exceptional Color.” I read it. Then I re-read it. Now I’ve covered it with sticky flags. At the time, I was using some not too lightfast student grade watercolors and I quickly realized that the color saturation for the professional colors was much richer and more interesting. So I got myself a few Daniel Smith watercolors and built a color palette based on Jan Hart’s suggestions.
Color Palette #1
Then I started experimenting. My first task was to understand how colors mixed. I started running tests to see how the colors I had chosen for my color wheel worked together. If I didn’t like the way a particular color was working with its complement, I moved to another that worked better. It took a while to get a palette I liked. Of course, I’m still changing it all the time. But here’s my current favorite.
Color Palette # 2
As you can see this palette has both warm and cool versions of many of the colors. It also has some lovely “tricky” colors like Cobalt Blue Violet, Cascade Green, and Amazonite Genuine. You may also notice that it has a double-dose of Fired Gold Ochre. That was a mistake, although I do like the color. Just too much enthusiasm the day I put the palette together. ;-)
Next up - Limiting your palette as a way of expanding your colors!