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Whats in my Plein Air Palette?

Spring has sprung in Canada and I am excited to take my watercolours and paint outdoors again.

I get a lot of questions from students about what colours to choose for their palette. It really depends on so many factors and there is truly no right or wrong answer. 

I love trying out new colours and experimenting and year to year my palette might look very different. Here is the current line up that I hope to be taking with me on my outdoor adventures, in 2022. 

I'm using a portable easel by CupEasel. I highly recommend them! They are great quality, light weight and adjustable and made in Canada. I recently added their pivoting water shelf to my set up and am loving it!  

Here is a breakdown of my current colour choices and scroll up for a quick swatching video on my Youtube Channel! Happy Painting!

Naples Yellow by Winsor and Newton

I love this pale yellow. It has a lot of white undertones and is perfect for warm  and soft light effects. I prefer Winsor & Newton's Naples yellow to other brands. 

White Gouache by Holbein

Gouache is essential for getting back highlights and painting in whites when plein air painting. It can be mixed with blues to make a lighter, more pastel sky. 

Quinacradone Magenta by QOR

A bold pinkish red and an excellent mixing colour. Makes lovely purple shades and can be mixed with yellow to make a variety of oranges. I use it a lot to make purple for deep shadows or added to greenery to give depth and richness. 

Pthalo Blue by Holbein

A bold staining colour that makes great darks. Mix with Burnt Umber to make a dark black or with yellows to make a super deep and rich green. 

Raw Umber by QOR

A nice neutral brown. Great for Dirt, mud and adding to mixes to neutralize them. 

Indian Red by Holbein

This is an earthy, granulating colour and one of my favourites. Also a great colour for brick work, cedar trees and adding to greens to get muted tones. 

New Gamboge by Holbein

A warmer yellow and great mixer. 

Quinacradone Gold

Another warm yellow, very transparent. It looks brown in the palette but is a nice warm and golden colour. 

Pyrol Scarlet by Daniel Smith

A true "Red Red" I don't use this as often. Great for fall scenes. An alternative to the cadmium reds. 

Horizon Blue by Holbein

A perfect sky colour that also makes a very pretty and bright green! Made by Holbein, touquise is a good substitute and has a bit less white in it. 

Yellow Ochre by Holbein

A workhorse for landscape painting. This earthy yellow is bold, slightly opaque and makes great natural colours. I love this one. 

Ultramarine Blue

A great, middle of the road blue thats less intense than Pthalo. A good granulating colour. 


painting easel

What colours are in your palette for plein air painting? 

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