watercolor charts 2.6.2020

A couple summers ago, I took a watercolor class where I learned that I could make a variety of colors by mixing only primary colors together: blue, yellow and red. All my long life, I’ve used pre-mixed colors in my paintings, and even though I mixed those premixed colors together to get other colors, it was a revelation that I could start with just the three primaries and get a variety of new colors.

I also watched a DVD titled Painting with Watercolors by Kateri Ewing, and in that video Kateri explains how to make simple color charts with watercolor paints.

I used a warm and cool of each primary for my color chart. Warm and cool describes the temperature of each color – you can learn more about that here. Also, each color is made up of pigments. A red color from one company may look slightly different than the same red from another company, depending on the pigments used to create that red. Pigments are listed as numbers on my watercolor tubes. I listed those across the top row.

I started by penciling out a graph with the primary colors I’d use. The color name is noted in the left column, and the corresponding pigment numbers are in the top row. CY (cool yellow) Lemon Color Hue is the same as PY175.
On my plate rim, I squeezed a dollop of each paint. From upper left and going clockwise, the colors on the plate follow the order of the colors listed on the chart.
Here’s the completed 6-color chart. I can see where I used too much water and the paint separated a bit, for example, when I mixed Gamboge Hue with Ultramarine Blue.
The first chart was quick and easy to create, so I decided to add more of the other colors I own to make another chart. Using a black permanent marker (not permanent on this plate – it’ll wash right off,) I labeled each color on my plate palette with the color initials. For example, PB is Pthalo Blue is and PRUS B is Prussian Blue.
Here’s the completed second chart. I added the Pthalo Yellow Green to the chart at the last second because I had space for one more color. And I’m glad I did, because I got some nice brown tones when I mixed that green with different reds.
Here’s the plate after I finished the second chart. Love the colors!

I’ll add some dark colors, too, which I still need to test. A color chart will be handy for me when I’m looking for a particular color in my watercolor paintings. For example, I can refer to the chart and know which colors I need to mix up to get just the right purple. I’ll let you know how it goes in future paintings:)


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