One of the many beauties of watercolors is that you don’t need to own that many watercolors. My palette only has 10 holes and I’ve never had a problem with that. Even paintings that look like I have tons of colors are only using the same colors with more or less water or painted with different strengths.
I’ve written about cutting down to only 7 watercolors. Some go down to 6. I like 7 because it’s a magic number.
I’ve also written about monochromatic exercises and why they’re important. You get good at monochromaticism and you’ll really be good with your colors!
Often less is more. The Japanese were the masters of this.
So it often is in cooking. So it often is in watercolors.
Less is more
I used a lot of colors for this Mermaid Island painting, right? Actually, no. Both the sea and the sky are the same blue – Daniel Smith French Ultramarine. The greens for the trees and the hills? Winsor and Newton Olive Green. All the sand is one color as well – Sennelier Yellow Light, except the shadows are done with a mix of that and Winsor and Newton Burnt Sienna.
That’s yet another beauty of watercolors. You can get so many different colors out of one bottle of watercolor paint.
It’s all about knowing how much water to use. You do that with experience.
Just paint. I’ve always said the first ten paintings are throwaway anyways. That’s why I believe in experimentation.
Usually I paint with a plan. Sometimes I don’t.
The painting you see above was supposed to be a throwaway experiment. It turned out pretty good so I’m going to keep it and get it framed, then sell it.
Sometimes you get pleasant surprises like that in life.
Only 10 pots for my watercolors
I love my porcelain watercolor palette. I’ve used the same one since the beginning.
You could wash it in the dishwasher with your dishes. It’s porcelain, just like your plates.
However, it only has 10 pots. Some have 12, or even more.
But that’s ok. I don’t use all of them most of the time anyways.
In the far left pot, I have a mix of Burnt Sienna and Titanium White that I use for the main skin tone color. I keep reusing that mix until it runs out. Then I have to make another mix.
Right above it – Hansa Yellow Medium. I love this color. It also doubles for Allie’s blonde hair. To its right, it’s Burnt Sienna which I use for so many different applications.
To the right of that one – Perylene Red. Another one of my favorite colors. I use that one for so many different applications as well.
To the immediate right of the primary skin tone mix – Titanium White. Watercolor, not the gouache. I have the same color in gouache as well but I use the watercolor versions more often.
Then from there out, chaos. Could be anything.
You’ll see me do complicated paintings and still, I don’t use all 10 pots. Like we’ve discussed, you can get so many different colors out of one watercolor tube.
(Can you tell how much I love watercolors?)
Won’t be switching to oils anytime soon
Oil painting is supposed to be the epitome of painting. That’s what the majority of the Masters painted with.
But do you know what? There are things you can do with watercolors that you can’t do with oils.
Yes, I’m aware it’s the other way around as well.
But, for now? My wife and I live in a tiny ass apartment with a single bathroom. I literally paint on the bedroom floor.
We have no space. My models sit on the bed while I sit on the floor and draw them.
Or, I sit on the bed and they stand up.
We have no room. Which you know what? You can get away with that with watercolors. No other painting medium does tiny places as well as watercolors.
Also, no other medium does more with less than watercolors. This is a severely underrated medium.
I have a feeling that in the 2020s, I’m going to be one of the top evangelists of watercolors. I love these things! And I sincerely hope I can get you to love watercolors as much as I do.