Inspired by Liz Steel's color notes and example, I recently revamped my own watercolor palette. Some of the tubes in my watercolor box were at least thirty years old: a lot has changed in the industry since then and I needed to get up to speed. For a couple of weeks I've been testing seeing how some new pigments behave and interact with each other, and how they're different from my standard ones. By and large, I'm super happy with the changes, and really impressed by the brilliance, clarity and superb mixing qualities of these newer pigments. It's been fun and exciting to learn more and explore the modern world of color (who knew that modern pigments have coded numbers that standardize them across manufacturers? Not I!) I was a kid who could happily spend an entire afternoon rearranging her big box of Crayola crayons, so make of all this what you will...
So, be forewarned, COLOR-GEEK tech talk coming up -- I'm really grateful to Liz, and if the following is helpful to anyone, that's great. Please bear in mind that the color reproduction on-screen is close but only approximate.
The new colors I'm using are Quinacridrone Gold, Quin Burnt Orange, Quin Red, Nickel Azo Yellow, Pyrrol Orange, Indigo, Indanthrone Blue, and Sap Green. Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna will be phased out. My two standard yellows will be Nickel Azo and Winsor Yellow, with Cadmium Yellow still on the big palette but only used when I need its more opaque qualities; ditto for Cadmium Red. Cadmium and Cobalt are both toxic; and one of my goals was to move away from some of the more toxic colors. However, the Cobalts (blue, green, violet) will stay for me, since nothing has yet been invented to replace their gorgeous hues.
For blues, I'm keeping Cerulean, indispensible for skies; my beloved Cobalt, and French Ultramarine, along with Indigo, which will help me create very dark darks. I'm not sure about the Indanthrone yet, that's the next pigment to test more extensively. I'm absolutely thrilled with Quin Gold and Quin Burnt Orange, alone and when mixed with blues and greens to create dark colors.
Most of the time, I like to mix my greens, though I do keep Hooker's Green Deep and Permanent Green on my palette, and Cobalt Green for occasional use. Sap Green is a unique color, very difficult if not impossible to mix, and because I paint so many landscapes and foliage, it seemed like it would be useful - and I think I'm going to love it. The photos don't show its exact hue, in spite of an hour of fiddling with Photoshop.
I only bought one of the many shades of Quinacridone Red - Rose - Coral that are available. I wanted something stronger and more brilliant than Alizarin Crimson but still in the cool red range, and so far Quin Red is fitting the bill beautifully. Pyrrol Orange is a new pigment, very brilliant, and more transparent than Cadmium Orange; I like it but it's almost too bright for me. We'll see.
Except for Winsor Yellow, which is a proprietary Winsor&Newton color that I just happen to really like, all the new paints were purchased by mail order from Daniel Smith.