Playing around with a limited palette


Right now I am experimenting with a limited 5-colour watercolour palette, consisting of Schmincke Cadmium Yellow Mittel, W&N Permanent Alizarin Crimson, W&N Ultramarine, W&N Burnt Sienna, and W&N Viridian. I read about it online somewhere (can´t remember where, if I did I´d give proper credit for it).

I have tried limited palettes before, and I seldom use more than five or six colours in the same painting/drawing, but for some reason this particular palette felt extra exciting to try – in spite of the Cadmium colour. I made a whole new plastic watercolour box for it, with only these colours in it, to make sure I don´t cheat with other colours. ; )

Did this trial mixing sheet, to see where this will take me, and I have to say I am pretty impressed with the range of colours I can get from these few.

27 x 21,5 cm, watercolours in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series sketchbook.

10 Responses to “Playing around with a limited palette”

  1. Jen Appel says:

    It’s really surprising how many colours you can get. I like how you managed to keep each clear and not muddy.

    Are you taking Shari’s Triade session in Barcelona?

    • Hi Jen, sorry I didn´t answer this sooner: no, I didn´t take Shari´s workshop. I had five others on my list this time – there were so many great workshops!

  2. Brian says:

    Wow – you certainly can get a variety of colors from just those 5. I’m always impressed by how vibrant your colors always look. Are these from pans or tubes?

    • Hi Brian,
      these colours are from pans, but I usually fill up my pans with tube colours when they run empty, and I don´t find there is any difference between the two. At least not with W&N paints.

  3. Rob Weaver says:

    I’ll give this combination a try.

    Last March I did a workshop where we used only French Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Sienna and Indigo, plus white gouache. It was amazing what could be achieved.

    • I love Quin gold, it is usually on my palette, but this one is really fun to try out. This was the palette I used most of all during the Urban Sketchers symposium in Barcelona last week, it really goes a long way.

  4. A good example for a practical and essential exercise.

    • It is fun to do this from time to time, limit yourself colour- or toolwise, so you don´t get totally stuck in a rut with your drawing habits.

  5. Robin says:

    Hi Nina I just purchased your Sagrada Familia book and it is wonderful. I wish you would discuss what tools paper, paints, etc…. you used to create it. The color choices, what you used for the great green page of carrer del la marina, a green marker? then sap green watercolor? Your Gaudi graffiti page? The book is really amazing and am going to buy more for gifts. You are a treasure!

    • Wow Robin, thank you so much, I am very happy to hear you liked the book! Maybe I should do a post about the tools used, have to think about that.
      The green page from Carrer de Marina was a green Copic Multiliner which comes in a lot of colours, waterproof, and a mixed green. Don´t remember which colours now, but probably Winsor lemon and either phthalo blue or winsor green. I usually mix my greens.
      The Gaudi graffiti page is also drawn with the same Copic fineliners.

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