Friday, 14 February 2014

Custom made watercolour mixes - 'Jane's Grey'.

If you have a favourite mix that you use a lot, it's very easy to premix it from tubes so it is available in your palette whenever you need it. You may want to do this with a favourite green mix or a purple. It certainly cuts down on the number of tubes of paint you need to manage and the time spent mixing colours on the run. It's especially useful if it is a dark colour.

Recipe for Jane's Grey

For a small amount, just squeeze your favourite mix of colours directly in your palette, or into a half or whole pan, in the proportions of tube paint you need, and mix them thoroughly. Test the mix on paper, making a strong and a weak wash to make sure it is what you like and allow to dry naturally. Make sure you label it. :-) Also make sure you don't put too much paint in initially, as you may need space to add more of one colour or the other.

For larger quantities I make up a tube of colour. I do this all the time with my 'Jane's Grey' mix. I squeeze out the required proportions of my two paint colours using a tube wringer to get out all the paint. It takes 4x15ml tubes! I squeeze it into an egg cup and then stir it very thoroughly. It is important to make it consistent all the way to the bottom. I then test the colour full strength and in a wash and adjust and remix if necessary. Then I pour it into the empty tube.

'Jane's Grey' all mixed up to a just cool grey.

Paint poured into the tube.
I use the wringer to seal the bottom of the tube, squeezing carefully to try to remove any air but not cause the paint to squeeze out the bottom. I crimp the tube and fold the bottom up and it's nice and safely sealed.

If there is paint left over in the egg cup, which there is likely to be, I add a few drops of distilled water, mix again and pour the more liquid version into my palettes to top up my colours, and make a few half or full pans ready for use. There is basically nothing wasted, and I save a lot of time while painting having my colour available as a nice rich slightly cool dark, without the black you get with many commercial greys.

I don't use any other additives with the Daniel Smith paints, but if you find your tube colours dry out too much you can add a drop or two of Glycerine or pure honey to keep the paint from cracking. M.Graham paints are famous for staying soft due to the honey added. Their range includes Neutral Tint which is made with Phthalo Green and Quinacridone Violet, so it doesn't contain black, but that is the only commercial version that I am aware of. 2014 update - QoR watercolours by Golden also have a Neutral Tint without black. It is made from the almost CYM colours Phthalo Blue, Quinacridone Magenta and Transparent Yellow Oxide.

You can mix a beautiful rich deep black with Phthalo Green (BS) and a deep crimson such as Pyrrol Crimson, Anthraquinoid Red or Permanent Alizarin too. That's another of my favourite darks to premix myself (Jane's Black 2!) Have a look at this mix towards the top here, labelled Phthalo Green and Anthraquinoid Red. Jane's Black 1 is also in one of the charts - Phthalo Blue RS + Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

I find that Neutral Tint and Payne's Grey commercial mixes containing black tend to dull the painting so I don't choose to use them, though many do and love the way they can be used to deepen other colours. Here is the Daniel Smith version of Neutral Tint. It's a lovely hue. Very like mine :-) but mine is made without black.

Maybe one day Daniel Smith will make my Jane's grey and save me the trouble!

Paint tube crimped shut with as little air in it as possible.
My labelled 60ml tube of Jane's Grey. It's a wonderful mix
that my students and I use all the time.