New palette for outdoor sketching

Lately I was feeling unhappy with the colour selection in my outdoor Daler-Rowney Georgian watercolour pocket set – it is good enough for quick pen & wash sketches, but whenever I attempted to paint a subject, which was mainly about colour, I found the paints inadequate for mixing the right colours and creating strong enough darks.  So I started bringing along the St Petersburg White Nights 24 pan watercolour set whenever I thought there is a chance that I’ll be attempting to paint outdoors.
Sketching field flowers with watercolour
However I felt a bit ridiculous and reluctant to drag around a larger & heavier box with me, specially because I was using only about 6-8 colours consistently out of 24. I also had few tubes of the Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolours, which I bought for the workshop with Sophie Knight, and some Winsor & Newton ones.  So instead of buying more paints I got an empty metal box and pans from Jackson’s Art Supplies (they seem to have almost everything a person may want) and filled them with the paint from the tubes.
Sketch of new palette
The box is supposed to be able to hold 6 full pans or 12 half pans, but as you can see I was able to fit in more.

1 W&N Cotman Lemon Yellow Hue
2 W&N Cotman Cadmium Yellow Hue
3 W&N Cotman Alizarin Crimson Hue
4 W&N Cotman Cadmium Red Pale Hue
5 W&N Cotman Burnt Sienna
6 W&N Cotman Burnt Umber
7 W&N Cotman Cerulean Blue
8 W&N Cobalt Blue
9 W&N Cotman Ultramarine
10 W&N Cotman Indigo
11 W&N Cotman Yellow Ochre

My selection was based on the colours similar to the ones I use most often in my St Petersburg Set, David Dewey’s basic palette from “The watercolor book” and David Howell‘s basic palette, which he describes in Just Watercolour DVD, as initially I was attracted to his paintings by their colour scheme. My selection was also further limited by the watercolour tubes I already had at home.

I’m planning to practice mixing colours to help me figure out which ones I want to keep, replace with something else or remove altogether. At the moment I’m very lukewarm about my selection of reds and am very tempted to replace Indigo with Payne’s Grey just because I love that name. I also feel that I am at the stage when being able to mix the right colour is becoming more important for me.

6 thoughts on “New palette for outdoor sketching

  1. Jodi

    I wish I knew a lot more about colour. I seem to be able to mix acrylics fine but watercolours are a lot more temperamental. Get it wrong and you can’t get it back!!! Payne’s Grey is such a strange name. In my acrylics the colour is actually a blue tint. Is it blue in watercolour too? For travel watercolour I rely on the pans my kit came with but I’m not always happy with the colours so it would be worth doing what you are – practising mixing. I have been using watercolour pencils recently, which I love!

    1. Zoya Post author

      I find your acrylic paintings amazing as I wouldn’t have to clue where to start and wouldn’t have enough confidence to do enough layers to achieve the same level of detail like you do.

      Payne’s Grey is named after William Payne and it is also blueish in watercolour (

      I bought some watercolour pencils as well, but haven’t used them.

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