New Gouache Travel Palette Colors for Plein Air (July 2022)

Lately I’ve been diving deeper into exploring GREENS and GREYS.

At first I was determined to make an entirely separate travel palette containing custom mixes of greens and greys. Upon further thought I realized that two travel palettes wouldn’t align with my goal of slimming down my travel supplies. Less is more when painting outside.

Custom green mixes
Custom green and grey mixes

Over the course of 4 days (in addition to the years of practice behind me) I spent countless hours mixing, remixing, adding and subtracting, all in an effort to create the “perfect” selection of 16 colors that would assist me in furthering my plein air studies. As any plein air painter knows (especially in Scotland) the fast-moving weather creates the most magnificent light, but it’s gone as fast as it came.

One day, I sat here staring at this field as it shifted from gold to chartreuse to grey to brown – all in a span of 10 minutes. As I quickly made some color notes I realized that I was (perhaps for the thousandth time) wasting time mixing the same colors I always mix – and missing the light!

Greens are perhaps the most challenging of all colors to mix, because their range is so vast. Nearly every surface of nature has a bit of green in it (in Scotland). I once heard it said that green is the only color family that can contain the least amount of itself and still read as green. I second that.

Gouache landscape fast color notes en plein air

This exercise prompted me to add 4 new custom color mixes to my travel palette: two lighter blues and two greens. The blues are warm and cool (or rather both are relatively warm but one is warmer). The greens are a cool and a warm, yet muted.

These can be used as “base” layers for sky, clouds, grass, foliage, etc. I’ve purposely mixed slightly muted versions of each popular color in order to avoid the same mistakes I always make.

Previously, I often started with a too-vibrant mixture then fumbled to make it more natural. It’s fun to use bright colors. But in my endeavors to create more sophisticated results I must insist on using more natural mixes. This doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. My goal as always is to excite the viewer’s imagination a little, while still representing my subject.

And so we find ourselves here in July with a new selection of colors in my gouache travel palette:

I shall continue to explore this range and report back as to whether it has made life a little easier 🙂

A quick note on brands – I’m not necessarily brand-loyal. But I am aware that each color is slightly different across brands. After trying many many many versions of each, I settled on these but it’s not set in stone. I used to exclusively buy Winsor & Newton because it was more affordable and easy to find (It’s the only brand of gouache in any stores within 4 hours drive). But after discovering the unique and incredible colors of Schmincke Horadam I couldn’t resist and now I buy almost all my gouache online anyway. Shinhan is the cheapest-high-quality brand I can find here. And as for the outlier, Holbein’s cobalt blue, I find it to be the strongest and most perfect version of that color (with best consistency).

I will wait to update my “supplies” page until I’ve given this new palette more mileage and thought. You can follow me on Instagram to view more frequent studies and updates.

Thanks for reading!

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I'm an independent artist living in Scotland. Always chasing the light, and painting the beautiful highlands.

4 thoughts on “New Gouache Travel Palette Colors for Plein Air (July 2022)

    1. I’ve removed all the heavy metals from my watercolor palette and mostly from my gouache palette. Some colors were recently added specifically to do master studies. They are temporary visitors to the palette.

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