Since our move to the mountains, I've been reworking my palette colors and while doing so I discovered a great 4-color watercolor palette that works well for nature and landscape sketching.
I like these four colors because all are single-pigment, transparent, and non-granulating pigments. These attributes allow the watercolors to play well together and stay purer in mixes. (In other words, they are less likely to separate or turn to mud.) Because of this, these type of pigments are often easier for beginners to handle.
4-Color Watercolor Palette
Notes about the colors:
- In the swatches above, Hansa and Phthalo Blue are Daniel Smith; Quin Rose and TRO are M. Graham. [Affiliate links, so thanks!] If you are curious about the differences in these brands, I have an overview here.
- If you prefer or already own Phthalo Blue green shade, feel free to use it instead of the red shade. You can learn more about these two shades here.
4-Color Mixing Chart
If you're not sure how to read this mixing chart, my instructions here can help. I even share a printable so you can make your own!
4-Color Mixing Range
The mixes above are just a small example of what all is possible with these four colors. Even more colors can be achieved by diluting a mix. For example, the swatches below are the exact same percentage of mix, but the first color is the mix painted full strength, and the second "color" was painted after the mix was diluted with water.
Of course, you can achieve a nearly unlimited palette by mixing three or more of these colors together. For example, add a bit of TRO to the Phthalo/Hansa mix to get a gorgeous, olive green. I've found that by using these four colors, I can paint nearly anything I find in nature.
(Psst... If you are interested in seeing even more mixing possibilities using Phthalo Blue Red Shade, this post is full of examples!)
Above is a 5-minute landscape sketch using only these four colors. What a perfect travel or field kit watercolor palette! I currently have these pigments stored in a tin, but as soon as I can make it to the store, I'm putting them into an inexpensive eyeshadow palette. (FYI... My daughter has a Covergirl brand one that opens flat and has a nice mixing surface!)
If you give this four color palette a try, I'd love to see your sketches! Just leave me a comment below or tag me on social media.