Must-Have Colors of 7 Master Painters

Color: Rose of Ultramarine

Brand: Daniel Smith

Artist: Jonathan Frank

must-have color, 7 master painters, watercolor, watercolor artist, artist daily
Earthly Remains by Jonathan Frank, watercolor painting

Frank_swatchCROP“Rose of Ultramarine from Daniel Smith is versatile, lightfast and 
gorgeous. Therefore, I quickly discovered its multitasking abilities. It’s particularly useful as a layering 
color in that it can increase the depth and complexity of cool and dark areas, as well as add texture and rich tonal ranges to warmer areas. 
I feel that it greatly contributes to the overall richness and luminosity that I strive for in my work.”



Color: French Ultramarine Blue

Brand: Winsor & Newton

Artist: Birgit O’Connor

must-have color, 7 master painters, watercolor, watercolor artist, artist daily
Oota by Birgit O’Connor, watercolor painting

oConnor_swatch_resized“French ultra­marine blue is one of my go-to colors when mixing greens, deep purples or when I want a nice brown- to blue-gray. Because of its granulating properties, mixing it creates a static-like charge called flocculation. I personally like the effect it gives. However, if you don’t, 
hit the drying color with a hairdryer to flatten it. I particularly like the blue-gray combinations of French ultramarine blue when mixed with burnt umber or burnt sienna. As the mixes dry, they leave nice textured transitions, especially in white flowers.”


Color: Cobalts

Brand: Winsor & Newton

Artist: Carolyn Lord

must-have color, 7 master painters, watercolor, watercolor artist, artist daily
China Cove by Carolyn Lord, watercolor painting

Lord_CobaltRow_resized“The non-staining qualities of Winsor & Newton’s cobalt watercolor paints—cobalt blue, cobalt green, aureolin (cobalt yellow) and cobalt violet—
are perfect for establishing the composition and forms that undergird 
the fluid application of paint. After mixing the desired color and value on my palette, I apply it to the paper. Then, the pigments suspended in water will settle into the divots of the watercolor paper as it dries. These divots create the impressionistic flecks of color that are characteristic of my work and are especially visible in the lighter value passages of my paintings.”


Color: Grey of Grey

Brand: Holbein

Artist: Betsy Dillard Stroud

must-have color, 7 master painters, watercolor, watercolor artist, artist daily
La Danse by Betsy Dillard Stroud, watercolor painting

Stroud_swatch“Although Holbein’s Grey of Grey is a watercolor, it has opaque qualities and comes in handy when I want to contrast the lovely transparency of watercolor with a flat opacity. In La Danse (above), for example, the background is a soft, beautiful mixture of all the transparent colors used in the painting. Still, it didn’t provide enough contrast. Grey of Grey came to my rescue as I used it to connect a vase with the background. It can be mixed with other paints as well, both transparent and opaque, for elusive colors that make a subtle rather than a bold statement.”


Color: Phthalo Blue

Artist: Jean Grastorf

must-have color, 7 master painters, watercolor, watercolor artist, artist daily
Reflections by Jean Grastorf, watercolor painting

Grastorf_swatchCROP“The color that I rely on is phthalo blue. When I pour my paints (my usual technique), it’s the strongest and coolest color of my triad. I combine it with a yellow, such as Hansa, and the red is red rose deep. Phthalo blue can be thinned to make beautiful transparent hues in a variety of colors. When it’s used thickly, almost out of the tube, it’s the source of my darkest values. Always dependable, it combines well with alizarin crimson, phthalo green and indigo for a range of colorful darks. It goes into suspension well and pours easily. In Reflections (above), even the warms have phthalo blue in them but in a weaker mixture. The dark details are partially phthalo with an added warm pigment (alizarin crimson and phthalo green).”


Color: Taylor’s Flamingo Pink

Brand: American Journey

Artist: Taylor Ikin

must-have color, 7 master painters, watercolor, watercolor artist, artist daily
Morning Hike by Taylor Ikin, watercolor painting

Ikin_swatch_resized“Almost every painting I create 
gets a fling of Taylor’s Flamingo 
Pink before I sign it. I created this color quite by accident, when I was teaching my adult class. I dragged my 2-inch flat brush through my large, heavily loaded palette, tossed it on the surface 
and there was a new color: pink! 
I had the sense to make marks on a clean sheet of YUPO to preserve the integrity of the paint. Then I set about working backwards to find the makeup of this yummy color. I use American Journey Paints by Cheap Joe’s, so naturally I contacted them and sent a sample color. The rest is history. When it was time to name the color, Cheap Joe’s decided to introduce it as Taylor’s Flamingo Pink! I’m forever amazed how a few snaps of a brush loaded with this color can produce that finishing touch that contributes life and energy to my work.”


Color: Naples Yellow

Brand: Jack Richeson & Co.

Artist: Stephen Quiller

must-have color, 7 master painters, watercolor, watercolor artist, artist daily
View From My Studio, A Soft Day by Stephen Quiller, watercolor painting

Quiller_NaplesYellow_resized“Wherever I’m painting (Ireland, Italy, the mountains of Colorado), I cannot do without Naples yellow. I can add a touch of cadmium red-orange to it and make a soft, fresh yellow-orange. I can add a touch of permanent green light and make a soft, fresh yellow-green.

“In my painting, View From My Studio, A Soft Day (above), Naples yellow has been used by itself in the central water area. In the upper distant range and sky, I neutralized it with its complement, ultramarine violet. This created the soft hazy atmosphere. In the warm orange snag (the dead standing tree), I added the yellow to cadmium red-orange and cadmium orange to give the tree substance and body. Using Naples yellow not only allows me to get the color I’m after, but, more importantly, helps me capture the mood, atmosphere and substance that I feel in nature.”

Watercolor Artist is always covering juicy color and all its uses. Follow us @watercolorartistmag on Instagram and subscribe for 6 issues each year for less than you pay for your yearly Netflix sub!

Related Posts:


Watercolor Painting