Sunday, 15 July 2018

Da Vinci Triad - a cool triad for the northern summer

Permanent Rose, Hansa Yellow Light and Phthalo Blue
in 8ml tubes create a cool bright triad.

Da Vinci have been featuring a range of triads as they launch their new smaller 8ml tubes. I was asked to suggest a Summer triad. When I am teaching, I always encourage my students to consider basic primary (or other) triads as a starting point for their paintings. This is the second one I would normally teach in a workshop, and is rather fun for summer - a cool bright triad to paint the warm colours of summer :-)

This triad consists of a cool bright yellow, cool bright red and cool bright blue - Hansa Yellow Light PY3, Permanent Rose PV19 and Phthlao blue PB15. It will mix in a similar way to a printing CYM triad, though I rather like the rose rather than magenta. It will create gorgeous bright greens, purples and oranges, but the three colours can also be mixed to create a fabulous rich black, which can be watered down to many shades of grey. The colours are all powerful and non-granulating.

Wheel painted with Hansa Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Phthalo Blue, Da Vinci Watercolours

The mixing possibilities are extraordinary with a well-matched triad. 

Below you can see the lovely bright greens that can be mixed using the yellow and blue, the oranges and reds along with warm yellows that can be mixed with the rose and cool yellow and the lovely purples, magentas and warm blues that can be mixed with the blue and rose. This chart was created using random mixes of the two primaries - a little more of one or the other, or a little more water, or stronger pigment, just to see what is possible. The strokes were painted with a 1/4" brush.

Hansa Yellow Light mixed with Phthalo Blue; Permanent Rose mixed with Hansa Yellow Light; Phthalo Blue mixed with Permanent Rose - Da Vinci Watercolours.

It gets even more interesting when you start to explore the three-colour mixes. 

Here we have a blue-purple mixed with the hansa yellow light, creating gorgeous blacks, greys and interesting shadow greens. The blue-purple I use for all the first row can be seen on the left.

Next is a mid purple mixed with the Hansa yellow light, creating raw umber and mute purple hues. Once again the mid-purple I used for all these mixes can be seen on the left.

Then a red-purple mixed with Hansa yellow light. creating yellow ochre, raw sienna and burnt sienna hues. The red-purple mixture I used for this row can be seen on the left. 

Purples mixed with Hansa Yellow Light. top is a blue-purple, middle is a mid-purple and bottom is a rose-purple.

Below are greens mixed with the Rose. First is a yellow-green mixed with Permanent rose creating lovely spring greens and oranges.

Next a mid green is mixed with Permanent Rose creating great foliage greens and dusty pinks.

Then a blue-green is mixed with Permanent Rose creating lovely deep greens and blue-purples.

Greens mixed with Permanent Rose - top is a yellow-green, Middle is a mid green and bottom is a blue-green.
Finally oranges are mixed with the Phthalo Blue

A red-orange creates lovely earth red and grey and deep blue colours.

A mid-orange creates a fabulous range of olive greens, turquoises and burnt orange colours.

A yellow-orange creates more bright greens.

Oranges mixed with Phthalo Blue - top is a red-orange, middle is a mid orange, bottom is a yellow-orange.

This sketch was painted using only the three colours. There is not much you can't create with them if you try! What you also achieve with a well-matched triad is wonderful colour harmony.

Tulip painted with PY3, PV19 and PB15, Da Vinci watercolours.

The new 8ml tubes will be a useful addition to the Da Vinci range. 
I love their massive 37ml tubes too!

Da Vinci tubes - the new 8ml, the 15ml and the jumbo 37ml.

This triad was launched as a Da Vinci set in September - here is the link to the triad series.

Happy painting.


  1. These are three of the four traditional "primaries" talked about on the Handprint website. Those were the now discontinued New Gamboge, Quin Rose, Phthalo Blue GS and Phtalo green YS. When I can only have four colors, these are the ones I start with.

  2. Can you substitute DS watercolors?

    1. Yes you can - the colours and pigments are the same, but the rose is called quinacridone rose and the blue phthalo blue green shade :-)

  3. Is there a general method you use to create the variety of strokes of mixed color as shown in the charts above?