Thursday, 1 November 2012

Gorgeous Greys in Watercolour

To make a gorgeous series of useful greys without adding black, which will dull your painting, try mixing Burnt Sienna PBr7, a neutral orange-brown, with Ultramarine PB29, a warm blue. 

Burnt Sienna (left) mixed with Ultramarine Blue (right) with various amounts of water.

This will create an invaluable range of light greys, light blue greys for skies or water, deep browns, deep stormy greys as well as indigo and burnt umber hues. It is a useful mix for shadows and, with lots of water, for painting white objects in shadow.

Note that Ultramarine is a granulating pigment, so don’t expect smooth washes, but enjoy the granulation as the pigment settles into the paper.

Other options for creating blacks and gorgeous greys include Transparent Pyrrol Orange DS mixed with Phthalo Blue RS, and Phthalo Green mixed with Pyrrol Crimson DS, Anthraquinoid Red DS or most crimsons, and Ultramarine mixed with a bright Orange as seen here.


  1. Replies
    1. It's my favourite combination for greys, but there are many other lovely options. Cerulean + Burnt Sienna, Phthalo Green + Permanent Alizarin (or whatever crimson you use), Phthalo blue (Red Shade) + Transparent Pyrrol Orange in Daniel Smith paints...and then all the greys you can make mixing your basic red, yellow and blue. Good to explore. It's also worth exploring using greys to accent another colour. For example if you want an orange colour to 'pop out', place a blueish-grey next to it and so on.

  2. It's always a gift to paint what you see in the outdoors n in Watercolors, it makes feel not So lonely when I have a paint brush in my hands.

    1. Yes I agree - I've sat in many a cafe with just a sketch book for company :-)

  3. Informations are so valuable