Summer Sketching Palette

As spring of 2018 approaches , I am getting to start sketching and do plein air paintings. I have not updated my small sketching metal palette for few years now. So this year I decided it is time to remove some colors I rarely use and convert some colors to full pans which I use often.

This a small metal box from amazon and I have removed the two metal bars which hold 6 half pans each 

This a small metal box from amazon and I have removed the two metal bars which hold 6 half pans each 

There are the colors from top left to right

Azo Yellow (Daniel Smith) - PY151

Hansa Yellow Deep (Daniel Smith) - PY65

Opera Pink (Daniel Smith) - PR122

Mars Yellow ( Ocre) (Daniel Smith) - PY42

Perylene Maroon (Daniel Smith) - PR179

Pyrrole Red (Daniel Smith) - PR254

Burnt Umber (Daniel Smith) - PBr7

Viridian (Daniel Smith) - PG18

Cobalt Teal (Daniel Smith) - PG50

Burnt Sienna (Winsor Newton) - PR101

Sap Green (Daniel Smith) - PO 48, PY 150, PG 7

Cereluan Blue Chromium ( Daniel Smith) - PB36

Imperial Purple (Daniel Smith) - PV 19, PB 29

Lavender (Holbein) - PV15,PB29,PW6

Neutral tint (Winsor Newton) - PB15,PBk6,PV19

Ultramarine blue (Daniel Smith) - PB29

I will mostly be using this palette for urban sketching and small sketches mostly smaller than 9"X12" sketchbook . I am excited for some urban sketching outings this spring and summer




Plein Air or reference photo

This is a typical beginner dilemma En Plein Air and from life or from a reference photo. Beginners convince themselves that reference photo is as good as painting from life. After all cameras these days are as good as human eye and reference photos are great way to create a wonderful painting


Why then go through the trouble of setting up a mini studio outside , figure out what to paint .And why is everyone passing by looking at me !!! ?

When I first started doing plein air I was shocked to find out how easily human eye defeats the best of the camera. Your eye can see what a camera is not able to see.


In the photo above , I was at a beach in Maine and my camera was hardly capturing any thing besides 3 bigs shapes namely – Beach , Ocean and Sky . But my eye was seeing way more and is reflecting in the painting.

Plein air is challenging because building visual literacy is slow process that takes lots of practice. But it is amazing joy to be do plein air painting.Youlearn to simplify the subject. you learn to modify the subject and you learn to create the mood.


But plein air is function of lots of factors so you are dependent on weather a lot.

My paintings changed a lot once I started doing plein air. At times when I unable to do a plein air I take lots of pictures of the place and try to remember as much I can and then paint indoors.

Plein air is great a way to improve your painting skills,build visual literacy,learn composition , learn how to paint fast and work in changing light conditions . All these things push you to become a better artist.

12 color limited watercolor palette

When I started painting second time in my life, I dabbled with a lot of colors (notice I did not call it a hue lol). At one point I have had around 40 plus different colors and pans from Winsor & Newton , Van Gogh and Daler Rowney. Mostly all student quality.

As the time went by my palette started showing me which colors I was using a lot which colors I was using a little and the ones that I used once in a great while and a bunch that I have probably used once to just test the hue on paper !!!

It made me realise  that I can probably get by with fewer colors. So I started researching that if I had to cut down by how much should I cut down !!

This is where it starts to get interesting . Because every artist is different, Every artist’s style is different and therefore every artist recommendation is different.

so I DECIDED of my own to start with 12 colors. There was no rule, no guidance or any of that sort for why 12 and why not 18 or 24.

I am writing this blog post after using 12 color limited palette for 8 months.

Well first things first ..take a look


Once I decided on the number 12. Next was which brand . Since I have been using Windsor & Newton and Van Gogh . I thought It was time for give Daniel Smith a try. I have seen lots of artist use Daniel Smith and I was also wanting to move to artist quality so I decided Daniel Smith.

And ordered by 12 tubes on eBay !!!

Here is what is in my palette


Did u notice no cadmiums !! Yay !!

All the names of Hues are from Daniel Smith , These might be named differently for different brands.

I got lot of help from hand print .com and Jane Blundell’s blog.

But ultimately I had to decide which 12 colors I want . General guidance of course being cool and warm of each primary , Earth colors , Mixing green and black or neutral tint or…..

Hope this is helpful, If you have any questions leave me a comment . I will share what I know.