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Basic Watercolor Palette With Cool and Warm Colors

Updated February 21, 2017

Watercolour is a classic art medium. Watercolours make rich and gemlike images on paper. There is a variety of papers to use. Rough is the most textured. Cold pressed has some texture. Hot pressed is smooth. With regard to a basic watercolour palette of colours, encompassing both warm and cool, experiment with different hues that interest you. For a basic palette, include cool, warm, neutral and earth tones.

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Cool Colors

Cool colours, those in the blue-green range in the spectrum, are a vital part of the palette. French ultramarine is a solid, basic blue. Cobalt blue is a more intense pigment. It is also a little lighter. A basic green is Hooker's green. Sap green is a bit earthier. You may want to try Prussian blue, which has a metallic tinge, or cobalt turquoise for something different. Add a violet, such as mauve, to round out the cool colours.

Warm Colors

Warm colours inhabit the yellow through red range. Cadmium hues are the strongest. They are also the most traditional. Cadmium yellow, cadmium red and cadmium orange, each down-the-middle representations of those hues, are a good start. Throw in some contemporary colours. Quinacridone red is a clear red. It has a vibrant brilliance. Translucent orange is a good choice, too, and tints with white very cleanly, without getting muddy.

White and Black

White and black are must-have paints for the palette. That's because even if you do not apply them straight from the tube, you need them to create neutral blends and tints. Titanium white is standard. Chinese white is less strong. Mars black has a warm tinge.

Earth Tones

Earth colours are useful for subjects that go way beyond landscapes. You can mix and match them. They are perfect for areas that are less brilliant in your painting and help create contrast. Burnt umber is rich and dark brown. Burnt sienna has a light chocolate hue. Ochre is lighter and mustardlike. Vandyke brown is a deep brown that you can use to darken lighter shades.

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About the Author

Bill Brown has been a freelance writer for more than 14 years. Focusing on trade journals covering construction and home topics, his work appears in online and print publications. Brown holds a Master of Arts in liberal arts from St. John's University and is currently based in Houston.

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