Friday, 26 August 2016


Purples are easily mixed, but there are many different characteristics to explore - staining, granulating, lifting...Mixing yellows to neutralise purples creates another fabulous range of colours from deep greys through earthy colours depending on the colours chosen.

See more purples on my website here.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

A busy month...Bathurst, NSW

July started out with a great week teaching a 5-day watercolour workshop in Bathurst, NSW. It's run by Art Scene, a terrific art store in Sydney. Up to 25 tutors and a couple of hundred students head to Bathurst twice a year for this Mitchell Summer or Winter Art School.

I taught Mastering Watercolours to a lovely group of participants. They worked very hard to explore their pigments, mix them to create colour wheels, colour charts and then a range of paintings to explore many different watercolour techniques. I'll do it again in January :-)

At the end of the week we had an exhibition of all the students' work arrange by tutor - very impressive.

Then I headed straight home to get on a plane to the UK...


The third week was reds. It's rather a long time ago now - I've been to Bathurst and the UK and back, then New Zealand and back. So much to write about...

I find reds fascinating. Adjust the bias from orange to purple and the mixing possibilities change dramatically. I tend to choose the semi-transparent reds though the cadmiums are excellent pigments. I like to use three reds rather than the standard warm and cool - a warm, a crimson and a rose red - great mixing options there.

I love the dramatic blacks and greys you can mix with a good strong crimson and phthalo green. And phthalo blue with a warm red won't make a purple. Fascinating :-)

My students had a go at painting a still life filled with red objects and using greens to create the shadow colours.
See more red pigments on my website here

Saturday, 2 July 2016


Week two was Oranges
Orange is one of my favourite colours, and I love the mixing pair of an orange and a blue. Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and a number of the orange-earth pigments are also neutralised oranges as you can see in the little painted mix with Ultramarine, but I've chosen to focus on the brighter oranges here.

While I don't usually include an orange in my palette (apart from Transparent Pyrrol Orange, which I use as a warm red), since it is so easy to mix with Hansa yellow and pyrrol scarlet as shown, there are some gorgeous orange pigments available.

Thursday, 30 June 2016


This term my classes have been working through the rainbow of watercolours painting still life objects in each colour family. We started with Yellow.

I painted out a swatch of a number of yellow pigments, focusing on single pigment yellows where possible. I also included the earth yellows for comparison including raw umber, a reduced yellow.

The opposite of yellow is purple, so we used purple to put the yellow into shadow in the still life studies.

It's rather nice to see all these yellows together so I thought I'd share the swatch pages here. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Maimeri Blu watercolours - full range

I had previously tried a number of Maimeri Blu watercolours, but have recently had the opportunity to test out the whole range. These are a popular range of watercolours from Italy. There are a large number of single pigment colours, including the more expensive but lovely cadmiums, cobalts and ceruleans. They are painted out in a fairly random way. Interestingly the colour chart also looks fairly random as they are arranged by number not by colour. 
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. I always prefer to choose single pigment colours and there are some good options here for yellows, oranges and reds.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches.The Cadmiums are bright and clear and paint out nicely. While I only use cadmiums for special purposes, I do like to have them available and have heard that, while generally considered toxic, in fact the amount you would have to consume to have a toxic effect is enormous as the cadmium is so well bound in the pigment compound that it cannot do any harm.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. These are all single pigment colours and painted out well. Only the Raw Sienna was a little less rich to work with.

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. Cupric Green Light is PG36 - usually known as Phthalo Green Yellow Shade. 

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. These all painted out well, except the tricky PV16 mineral violet pigment though this granulates nicely.

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. I was less interested in these colours as they are largely mixed pigment colours.

Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. There are two versions of Ultramarine though I preferred the Deep. Faience Blue is more commonly known as Indanthrone Blue. I prefer it to be a darker more powerful version.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. There are two versions of Cobalt Blue too. Turquoise Green PB16 is not a common watercolour pigment - most this hue are a mix of PB15 and PG7. I didn't like the Sap Green.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. Cupric Green Deep is more commonly known as Phthalo Green Blue Shade. I didn't like the old version of Sap Green either. 
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. Yellow Ochre and Golden Lake are nice yellow earth colours and I rather like the granulation of Stil de Grain Brown - I prefer the DS Goethite for this sort of colour but this is an interesting hue.
Maimer Blu watercolour swatches. The Burnt Sienna, such an important colour, wa disappointing. A nice hue and made with PBr7 but not so easy to paint out. I was working from a small sample of dried paint though - it may be better fresh from the tube. Transparent Mars Brown may be an interesting Burnt Sienna substitute for those who like a more burnt orange version.
I don't tend to use watercolours with black or white pigments in them, but was interested at how blue the Neutral Tint PBk7 appears. 

It's fun to test out a whole range and these generally paint out nicely. While I will continue to use the Daniel Smith watercolours I have enjoyed for over 20 years now, it's nice to know there are plenty of other well made largely single pigment watercolours available from all over the world.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Mission gold Watercolours by Mijello - complete set

I had painted swatches of a few Mission Gold colours previously, is seen here, but have now had a chance to try the whole range. This is an interesting brand, made my Mijello of Korea. There are 105 colours but they are largely mixed hues created with very few pigments. There are no cadmiums or genuine ceruleans and the only genuine cobalt is Cobalt Blue. The paints are very predictable to work with, in the sense that they re-wet with the touch of a brush and brush out bright and strong, with very little granulation and very little drying shift.

If you love bright colours and are starting out in watercolours, this could be an interesting range to try, though I certainly wouldn't recommend getting the full range, just the single pigment colours. Personally, I miss the granulation that I love as only a couple granulate at all.

The swatches are painted out in a rather random order, but the whole range is included. I'll add them all to my website soon. Here is the full colour chart, with the meanings of the symbols. 

In this set, I'd be most interested in the Permanent Yellow as  primary yellow and the Red Orange if you want a strong red-orange colour.

In this set, Lemon Yellow and Permanent Yellow Deep provide a good warm and cool yellow. Permanent Red Deep is a lovely rich crimson red and Permanent Magenta is the pigment used in most of the mixed purples.
Permanent Rose and Rose Madder (another rich crimson - deeper than Permanent Red Deep) are the most interesting here. the very bright colours containing BV10 don't scan properly - they are Opera Rose colours with very poor light-fast ratings.
Most interesting here is Scarlet Lake as a warm red and Indian Red.

Violet Lake is one of the only slightly granulating colours in the range. The rest of the purples and violets shown here are easily mixed from the palette colours.
 I like Indanthrone Blue, but this version didn't paint out very nicely - perhaps it was just the small sample I was using. The Manganese Blue is a hue not a genuine pigment.
There isn't a genuine Cerulean PB35 or 36 in the range. There are two choices for Ultramarine.

While some are very pretty, all of these colours can be mixed from basic palette colours. The Chromium Oxide Green is a hue, not the genuine pigment.
Most useful here is Bamboo Green, generally referred to as Phthalo Green YS. Viridian is a hue, not the genuine pigment. The other greens are all mixed greens - easy to make yourself, though of course if one is a colour you love and use a lot it may be worth having in as a premixed tube colour.

Most interesting here is the Green Gold PY150 as another primary yellow option and Yellow Ochre No 2 which is a nicely version of this colour. 
Red Brown PBr25 is used in a number of the Mission Gold mixes and is an interesting alternative to the more opaque Indian Red in the palette. Van Dyke Brown is a good rich chocolate brown.

Burnt Sienna is a real problem in this range -
it is more like a Quinacridone Gold hue and not
useful to mix with ultramarine and other
blues to create interesting greys as one would normally do.
After the blacks, the next swatches are made with mixes including white, so they feel more like gouache to paint with. Colours are the same as found in the Japanese Holbein watercolours.
These pastel tints are easy to mix if you choose to have a white watercolour in your palette

More pastel tints.
More pastel tints, and a choice of a more transparent or more opaque white.

Cobalt Green is another hue, not the real
pigment not the real colour.
Cobalt Turquoise is another hue, though
one of the few granulating watercolours
in this range.

These Pearl colours haven't scanned well,
 though there is only a slight sparkle to be seen in real life.

I enjoyed painting out these colours as they are very vibrant and 'well-behaved'. They disperse well in water and are easy to paint with, making them very consistent and predictable, as stated in the website. That will appeal to a lot of people. I admit it doesn't appeal to me - I enjoy playing with a whole range of characteristics in watercolour, but if colour alone is your goal, these are an excellent choice.

The pigments have been improved since the range was first introduced and are now more light-fast. I think they would suit those wishing to work with a full gamut palette, as the range of earth colours is limited. 

If you wanted to create a basic set I would consider Green Gold PY150 or Lemon Yellow PY3 as your cool yellow, Permanent Yellow Deep as your warm and Yellow Ochre as your earth yellow.

For reds look at Scarlet Lake for warm and Permanent Rose for cool (or Permanent Magenta PR122 if you love that pigment) I'd add Rose Madder for a crimson as well.

For blues look at Cerulean Blue (hue) PB15:3 as a cool phthalo blue and Ultramarine Light PB29 as the warm.  

For greens, only to be used for mixing, I'd suggest Viridian (hue) PG7, which is phthalo green BS and neutralises a crimson, and/or Bamboo Green PG36, which is Phthalo Green YS, and neutralises PR122 and PV19.

The earths are tricky, but I'd look at Yellow Ochre PY42 as mentioned, Red Brown PBr25 or Indian Red PR101 as an earth red. I'd probably add Van Dyke Brown as a deep brown and make my own custom version of a burnt sienna with the Yellow Ochre and Red Brown.

Happy painting and thank you to Winifred for the samples :-)