Fall is quickly arriving in the mountains where I live. The trees are already changing colors, and I've noticed that my landscape sketching has followed autumn's lead. Reds, golds, and warm greens have begun to take center stage in my paintings, so I decided to put together a simple 6-color autumn palette for seasonal watercolor sketching and painting.
When I first had the fun idea to create an autumn palette, my creative juices began flowing and I was tempted to run out and purchase new paints. So I decided to set a few rules—or maybe a kinder word is boundaries—because I could foresee this idea quickly growing out of hand.
First, the palette had to be limited.
I'm a sucker for watercolor palettes (as you may already know), but fall colors are MY colors. These are the colors that I wear and use to decorate my home. Yep, I'm one of those weird folks who wouldn't mind an avocado green fridge. So to keep this idea and autumn palette manageable, I decided to limit it to 6 or 8 colors.
Second, it had to be created with watercolors that I already owned.
No popping into Cheap Joe's Art Stuff to pick up a tube or two... or five. I have plenty of paints so I wanted to avoid blowing my budget for a temporary, seasonal palette. (I totally confess that I almost cheated on this one. I was seriously considering a different warm yellow for this palette, but CJ was out of it. Whew, saved by an empty store shelf!)
Third, I challenged myself to try new shades.
I love my current palette and I'm committed to mostly single-pigment paints, but for this seasonal fall palette, I really wanted to stretch my comfort zone and try out some convenience shades that have been gathering dust in my bin.
After all, what would be the point of fall colors without a bit of fun? So here's my 6-color autumn palette for watercolor plus a handy little mixing chart. Happy fall, y'all!
6-Color Autumn Palette
The colors* I chose for my autumn palette, pictured above from left to right:
- Quinacridone Gold (PR206/PY42)
- Quinacridone Sienna (PR206/PY97)
- Permanent Alizarin Crimson (PR264)
- Raw Umber Violet (PBr7/PV19)
- Green Gold (PY129)
- June Bug (PB27/PG7)
The swatch on top is the color, and under it is how the color looks when highly diluted. With a limited palette, it's important to take full advantage of various tinting strengths. For more about mixes and variations, see this article.
In the photo above, I added the pigment numbers (learn what these mean here) so you can easily create your own fall palette even if you can't get your hands on these brands. And you don't have to purchase these exact pigments! Watercolor is very forgiving so you should pick what works for you.
Many of these colors may already be in your palette, but if not, it's very easy to substitute. Here are a few ideas, and clicking on the links will take you to more information about these colors.
- Instead of Quinacridone Gold (this is a hue/blend anyway since Daniel Smith's PO49 is gone for good) try a warm yellow like PY65 or PY110, or an earth yellow like Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna.
- Instead of Quinacridone Sienna, try Quinacridone Orange, Quin Burnt Scarlet, or a PR101.
- Instead of Alizarin Crimson, try Anthraquinoid Red, Perylene Maroon, or Carmine.
- Instead of Raw Umber Violet, try Perylene Violet or WN Caput Mortuum (aka "dead head" and LOVE this one!) or mix your own RUV from Raw Umber and Quin Violet.
- Instead of Green Gold, choose another earthy green like Terre Verte, Chromium Green Oxide, or Serpentine Genuine.
- June Bug is just Prussian Blue mixed with Phthalo Green, but feel free to choose another warm teal like Ultramarine Turquoise or Phthalo Turquoise. Or just use Prussian—a deep, warm blue that's an excellent mixer.
6-Color Palette Mixes
If you need help reading the mixing chart above or would like to download a blank copy to create your own, see this post.
I originally created an 8-color autumn palette that also included a deep brown and a dark green, but then I realized that I didn't need them! I'm extremely happy with this 6-color autumn palette and the beautiful colors that I gain from a few, simple mixes.
For example, check out the beautiful range of colors (below) that result from varying the amounts of each color in a mix.
I hope this inspires you to give your own autumn palette a try. If you find my mixing chart helpful, you're welcome to download and print it for free. Just click on the full palette chart to be taken to the PDF file.
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Please play fair & do not share the PDF or a direct link to the download. Sharing a link or pin to this blog post is just fine. Thanks!
Examples of More Mixes
If you like to experiment and are willing to try a few three color mixes, even more colors are possible. I've shared a few examples of this below.
However, tread lightly. Since many of these colors are already comprised of more than one pigment, multi-color combos using convenience shades can quickly turn muddy. I'm unfamiliar with many of these colors, so when I was working on the landscape for the lead photo of this post, I nearly crossed over into mud several times.
When/if mud happens, stop working immediately, gently lift any uncontrollable or floating pigments, and allow the paint to settle before continuing.
This will usually resolve the issue. As with any watercolors, it's best to experiment before you begin painting so you know what to expect when it comes time for your paints to perform.
Oh by the way, if you're interested in purchasing this autumn landscape, it's currently available in my shop.
Celebrate Fall & 1000 Followers Giveaway! [CLOSED]
Not only am I thrilled about autumn's glorious arrival, but I'm excited to have reached a small milestone. Scratchmade Journal now has more than 1000 followers on Instagram! To show my appreciation for your amazing support, I've partnered with my favorite local art store, Cheap Joe's Art Stuff, to put together a great little giveaway.
The prize pack includes:
- A large size American Journey Nomad travel tin
- Five full pans filled with the American Journey colors featured in this post
- Extra empty pans to fill with your favorite fall colors
- Magnetic adhesive strips to attach pans securely in the tin
- A 4x6 Kilimanjaro watercolor block in natural white (perfect for fall landscapes!)
- Miller' Pseudo Squirrel round #4 brush
How to Enter: This giveaway is open to legal residents of the U.S. age 18+ with a valid U.S. shipping address. Enter only once from September 22-25, 2017, using the Rafflecopter entry below. Just follow the prompts for each entry. (Complete giveaway rules & policies are located here.)
Instagram Bonus! If you follow SJ on Instagram, feel free to pick up an extra bonus entry. Please note that this is not a requirement to enter or win.
How to know if you've won: A winner will be randomly chosen and notified via entry email within 24 hours after the giveaway ends. Winner must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.