I was recently asked a question about watercolor colors that I use and I thought I would share my complete answer in my blog.
The specific question was if I use cool, groovy colors or I stick to the basics? Well the answer is both. This is the palette that I end up using very often, therefore I would say it is my favorite. I've read that some sketchers choose their colors palette according to the place they travel to, or choose based in the season of the year. I'm not that knowledgeable. This palette works for me. The brand name I use is Winsor & Newton artist quality. I haven't tried other brand names besides W&N Cotman (student quality, which by the way is good too) and Venezia. The W&N artist quality paint gives me those bold and rich colors I like in my sketches. So why would I change? I know some other people like to experiment with other brands, but again W&N suites my need VERY well, so I have no plans to change that soon.....or ever. So I'll talk about my basic palette first.
From left to right and top to bottom.
Cadmiun Yellow. This was one the first colors I tried, when I was first introduced to watercolor painting. This may not be the first choice for painters because of its opacity and stain quality (it's hard to lift from paper) but I still use out of habit. It's one of those paints I'm attached emotionally. I learned to use its properties over time. I use it to warm up the page with a first glaze on the paper, then I can use other transparent colors on subsequent glazes. I try to not use it on top of other colors because it's opacity.
Cerulean Blue. I use it for the sky or as a replacement of Cobalt Blue. Cerulean blue is another not so transparent color but I like its granulation effect on paper.
Winsor Red. I love the intensity of this red. It's opaque as well, I normally use it on top of other glazes to represent flowers. I also use it in high concentrated washes to give an object a visual impact.
Sap Green. Foliage, foliage, foliage. I have it as a basic first, because it's a beautiful green, and second because I don't have to mix two colors to get green. I can do variations with it by mixing with yellow or browns.
Burnt Sienna. I love this one, one of my super basics, I can mix this one with almost every single color in this palette and the range of color I get is incredible.
French Ultramarine. Another super basic. I use it to create dark color, and also I can mix it with the rest of my palette, hands down.
Yellow Ochre. One of those ugly colors so useful when bright yellows don't work. I use it mostly for skin, buildings and sand.
Lemon Yellow. I don't use it quite often but I like to have a light yellow it in my palette because I mix it to achieve soft colors.
Alizarin Crimson. One of the most intense reds and its a super basic in my palette. It's so flexible that I can achieve a wide range of colors with it, including pinkish color with a light wash of pure color, and it's super transparent, which it is a property that I like a lot in this one.
Winsor Green, yellow shade. This is one of those colors that wasn't in my palette originally but it arrived to stay. I substituted Viridian green, which is cold and very strong for green. Winsor green is warmer and it works perfect to make dark colors.
Burnt Umber. Another super basic. Good for making dark colors, although I find it opaque when mixed, I can overlook this.
Payne's Grey. One of my last additions to my basics. An absolute favorite. The darkest of all dark colors in my palette.
I don't use white or black. Neither you should.
And here are the groovy colors.
From left to right.
Smalt. A free sample. It's blue but it has a purple hint. Neat color.
Opera Rose. A free sample. I try to use it when I want to have fun, it's like a Neon pink.
Madder Rose. I bought this one for flowers, which I don't paint very often but is a beautiful color.
Quinacridone gold. I absolute adore this one but it doesn't fit in my palette! I might replace the Lemon Yellow when I finish it and explore more the use and mixing capabilities.
Winsor Orange. I bought this one out of curiosity, not sure when to use it yet.
Venetian Red. I was curious about this one too. Strong reddish brown. I don't miss it, since I can achieve a similar color mixing Alizarim Crimson and Burnt Sienna. Good for brick or buildings.
Winsor Blue, green shade. I make sure I bring this one for the beach. I love this one for water.
Titanium white. I bought this one as an attempt to paint white over color. I use now white gel pen Uni-Ball Signo.
I hope you find this information useful. If you have questions please do so in the comment section below.