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Old 05-24-2014, 10:58 AM
oliverandjazz oliverandjazz is offline
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only primaries needed

greetings, and apologies if I am in the wrong place. I have a question for anyone that can help me, thank you in advance.

good grief, thousands of watercolors out there. I should be mixing all those colors from my primaries right? I mean, why do they sell all of them say 'greens'
Am I better off mixing my own greens, or should I be purchasing these greens?

technically, I only need to buy 6 primaries right, 2 of each, a warm and cool? and I should be able to mix any colors needed from there?

I am overwhelmed at all the color choices please advise
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Old 05-24-2014, 11:27 AM
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painterbear painterbear is offline
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Re: only primaries needed

Hi Oliver,
Welcome to the Watercolor Forum.

You've come to the right place for info on setting up your palette.

Check out this thread on the Split Primary Palette (6 colors + 1) a la Nita Leland.

There are other threads discussing color choices and setting up palettes in this section of The Watercolor Handbook:
Quote:
*Setting Up a Palette*
. The link to the Handbook is in my signature line and a sticky at the top of The Learning Zone.

Sylvia
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Old 05-24-2014, 11:32 AM
DaveCrow DaveCrow is offline
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Re: only primaries needed

Lian Quan Zhen, www.lianspainting.com paints with only the three primaries

"Three tubes of the primary colors from any of the following: One Blue - Antwerp Blue (Windsor and Newton), and/or Prussian Blue (M.Graham &Co.); One Yellow - Hansa or Azo Light light (M.Graham &Co.) or Bumblebee Yellow (American Journey). One Red - Pyrrol or Napthal Red (M.Graham &Co.) or Joe's Red American Journey) Other similar primary colors are OK. "

He offers DVDs, books, and workshops through his website. Well worth a look if you are interested in painting with only the three primaries.

The book "Three Color Painting" available on Amazon, is written for gouache painters, but shows techniques in watercolour and oil painting styles also for painting with just the three primaries.

I am in love with colour and so have a large box filled with paint tubes. Many of them are simply there to save me mixing the colour I want from scratch each time. I have a diverse set of earth tones and mineral pigments that I use for painting copies of Ice Age cave paintings. But, despite having a huge array of paints at my fingertips I doubt I use more than four to six in any given painting.

As for greens, I almost never use tube greens straight from the tube. I paint a lot of landscapes and find that the straight tube greens look garish and artificial. But when just a touch of yellow, or blue, or red, or ochre, or something else is added they spring to life.

If you want to explore a truly minimalist palette Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna will mix to give a lovely range of greys and neutrals, while also providing blue and red and lots of browns too. You can do a lot with just these two. Even simpler just a tube of Payne's Grey can yield a huge variety of painting effects.

It can seem overwhelming at first. There are several thousands of watercolour paint formulations on the market, I counted the range of stock numbers in a paint catalog one day. Fortunately there is a huge overlap between these, every manufacturer has an ultramarine blue for example.

I do not believe there is a right or wrong way to paint. There is your way. Mixing everything from primaries is one approach. Using a different premixed tube paint for every colour is another approach. Most painters are somewhere between these two.

Time spent exploring colour mixing is never wasted. Welcome to watercolour! Jump in explore and don't be afraid to ask questions. I have learned volumes from the folks here on the forum.
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Old 05-24-2014, 11:54 AM
briantmeyer briantmeyer is offline
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Re: only primaries needed

Find art you like, examples you care about, then ask what palette is needed for that.

My palette is in many ways designed for seascapes, cliffs, waves and figure painting. It's terrible at doing bright colors like you see in floral work. It's not even a color wheel, but instead 3 pairs of complementary colors so I can focus on grays and tones.

Read handprint.com, they have an extensive set of information on pigments and recommended palettes, a bit out of date on specifics, but the general ideas and approach are still valid. Remember it's not the colors, but the properties you need to focus on, lots of yellows but do you want a earthy granulating color, a opaque color, or a transparent color. Do you want honey, or do you work from tubes mostly, or pans. Do you have budget issues and prefer student grade paints?

Get less colors at first, the key is to really learn every way the colors you are using combine together. Master a few ( 3-6 tubes ) then add more and swap those out.
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Old 05-24-2014, 12:18 PM
oliverandjazz oliverandjazz is offline
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Re: only primaries needed

wow, many thanks guys..thank you for a fast response, and thank you for sharing your insights with me. well appreciated.
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Old 05-24-2014, 03:05 PM
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Re: only primaries needed

Having a palette limited to the 3 primaries or a split-primary palette of 6 paints will enable the mixing of virtually any hue. The problem with a 3-color or 6-color sp0lit-primary palette is that all mixed colors will be rather neutralized and grayed. The reason is that the gamut is very wide-spread.

A better palette for mixed colors is a 6-color primary/secondary palette or a 12-color primary/secondary/tertiary palette since the gamut of these palettes in much more closely spaced. This will result in mixed hues of higher saturation.

Higher saturated hues are very good for watercolor painting, since they allow painting with saturation where desired, and the saturation may be neutralized using complementary colors if/when desired.

On the other hand, one can not take a grayed, neutralized mix and thereafter make it saturated.

There's lot of threads on this subject if you want to follow up for more information. Just use the search function.

Good luck with your painting!

Sling paint,
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Old 05-24-2014, 03:48 PM
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Re: only primaries needed

Welcome, oliverandjazz! There's a wide range of opinions on the best starting palette. Bottom line is this: as Brian and DaveCrow said, start somewhere and paint. Mixing everything from primaries is exactly as valid as using hundreds of colors straight from the tube.

A big advantage of working small palettes is that you do learn mixing well, and will get to know your several pigments intimately. Then when you add a few, you have an excellent foundation for learning how the new pigments behave, and how to get the best effect from them. Some of your mixes won't be as vibrant as using a similar color straight from the tube, which is why all those other tubes exist.

Split Primaries are a fine option, as is another set of six called a secondary palette. That's one each of violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. One does need to choose pigments carefully for best effect; when well set up you can paint almost anything with either palette. I can paint all day long with five. (Or, two: Ultramarine and burnt sienna as Dave said.) If you have a particular focus in your work, a palette specialized for that is also a fine place to start (ie, Brian and his gorgeous complementary pairs.) One might skew the selection to favor skin tones for portraits, or brights for florals. Any palette that gets the results you desire, has a place and a purpose.

Whatever you choose, I look forward to seeing your work!
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Old 05-24-2014, 06:25 PM
oliverandjazz oliverandjazz is offline
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Re: only primaries needed

thank you very much. I have made a paint order and can't wait to give them a go
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:32 PM
JPQ JPQ is offline
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Re: only primaries needed

some colours can be mixed but not all. but some features like trsanspercency,staining or not etc is impossible made with mixing.
Cyntada: which 5 colours you use?
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Old 05-26-2014, 12:16 AM
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Re: only primaries needed

The Fabulous Five that I would put in a small palette:

pb29 Ultramarine Blue
pb16 Phthalo Turquoise
py150 Nickel Azo Yellow
PV19 Quin Rose
PBr7 Burnt Sienna

As noted I usually carry more, but I'd feel capable of sketching most anything if caught with just those five in my pocket. So, very useful for a stealth palette or stash in the car. If I knew I was going somewhere in particular though, say to a canyon with red rock walls, I would certainly bring paint appropriate to the location! I could mix a red rock *hue* with the set above, but nothing says "red rock wall" for example like PR101, especially on rough paper. Our local skies are precisely cobalt, so that's really indispensable for landscapes. Etc., etc., etc....

JPQ, you bring up a good point: Watercolor paint is not just about hue. Paint that granulates or doesn't, stains or lifts, or is transparent (or not!) provides for endless variation in a painting. Making a triad of PB35 cerulean, PR101 Indian Red, and PY43 Yellow Ochre would be almost like painting with gouache, since all three colors are opaque. You'd get VERY different results with PB15:3 Phthalo Blue GS, PY150 Nickel Azo Yellow, and PV19 Quin Rose, all transparent with dye-like intensity.

That's probably why we keep debating these same points with endless interest. It's never just about hue in watercolor!
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Old 05-26-2014, 01:22 PM
oliverandjazz oliverandjazz is offline
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Re: only primaries needed

so much to learn, I have been practicing and reading on this subject off and on for 2 yrs or so, and I still haven't scratched the surface it would seem. LOL
many thanks for the responses.
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Old 05-27-2014, 01:56 PM
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Re: only primaries needed

technically, I only need to buy 6 primaries right, 2 of each, a warm and cool? and I should be able to mix any colors needed from there?

Some artists paint with very limited palettes - Dave mentioned Lian Quan Zhen - you can see clips of his work on Youtube. He gets an amazing range of colors and values with 3 basic colors.

If you wanted basic primaries, cool blue (pthalo blue gs), warm blue (ultramarine), cool yellow (azo yellow), warm yellow (new gamboge or hansa yellow deep), warm red (pyrolle red), and cool red (quinacridone rose or quinacridone magenta) would be sufficient. I think you'd be amazed at the range of color you could get with these basics. And re: green, it's recommended that artists not keep green on their palette because it forces them to really study the green they're looking at. James Gurney's book Color & Light (HIGHLY recommend) discusses some of the challenges of greens, and why you're often best off mixing your own. I'd say the 2 basic primary system and eliminating greens are very color-theory heavy approaches to painting. I think the 6 primaries palette is a good starting point for many painters. That way they can figure out which colors would be convenient to add to their palettes and slowly add those on.

The thing is, everyone around here has their favorite colors, and if you look at our palettes, they all look different. Materials are highly personal - it can take some trial and error to find the palette and materials you like using. While most painters could get by with 6 primaries if they had to, there are secondaries and neutrals that many of us like having on our palettes. I have 17 colors on my palette, including one green, pthalo green blue shade. I almost never use it on its own, but mix it with reds.
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