choosing the best artist paint colors for your painting palette

  • How do you choose the best artist paint?

what is better student or professional paints

  • Professional paints are a better buy.

Student grade paints cost less to manufacture because they contain less pigment. So you have to use more paint to get good coverage.

Professional art paints cost more because they contain more pigment. They require less paint to cover. They are easier to use and they produce brilliant colors in your paintings.

They actually save you money in the long run.

many artists use transparent colors

  • Transparent colors allow the white of the canvas or paper to show thru the paint.

The white illuminates the colors, so they appear more brilliant.

The information on the paint tubes will say whether the paints are transparent, semi-transparent or opaque.

Selecting your artist paintSelecting your paints

single pigment colors

  • If possible select single pigment paints.

When you want the best artist paints, find out how many pigments are used to make the paint.

Paints made with only one pigment mix well and produce clean color mixtures.

health precautions?

  • Cadmium colors are associated with a health hazard. The same goes for Cobalt Blue.

Even though they are very beautiful colors, when you are looking for the best artist paint colors, they have not been included on this list.

choosing the best artist paint colors

There is such a bewildering array of beautiful paint colors. There are so many and they are so pretty!

ask yourself

  • What are the colors in nature?
  • Oh, the colors of the rainbow!

The rainbow colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. There is also, a dark blue between the blue and purple, called Indigo.

Excluding Indigo, there are six rainbow colors. These are the six colors of the color wheel.

We use this knowledge for choosing the paint colors for our art palettes.

Learn how to choose the best paint colors for your artist palette.Choose the Rainbow Colors

An excellent choice for your palette is A warm and cool version of the rainbow colors

oil colors

  • Here is a warm and cool version of each of the six rainbow colors.

Years ago I switched from the traditional oil paints to alkyds because they dry much faster. Winsor Newton Griffin Alkyds are a good quality paint with an excellent reputation.

If you are choosing paint colors in traditional oil paints, you will find similar names.

Lemon Yellow is a cool yellow artist paint color.
Indian Yellow is a warm yellow.
Cadmium Orange Hue paint by Winsor Newton does not actually contain any cadmium.
Burnt Sienna has long been a favorite orange earth color paint for artist.
Winsor Red by Winsor Newton resembles cadmium red, but it does not contain any actual cadmium.
Permanent Rose is the true red on the color wheel.
Magenta is a reddish violet.
Dioxazine is a very concentrated purple-violet.
Ultramarine Blue has been a favorite of painting artists for centuries.
Phthalo Blue, (the full name is Phthalocyanine Blue) is the primary blue of the color wheel.
Thalo Green is a cool green.
Sap Green paint is a mixture of several pigments.
  • All of the cadmium colors are very brilliant. However, they are associated with a health hazard. Also, they are opaque and do not mix well with other colors.

Cadmium Orange Hue made by Winsor Newton does not contain cadmium. It is a mixture of Arylide yellow and Pyrrole orange. It closely resembles Cadmium Orange without the toxicity.

Winsor Red is much like Cadmium Red, but it contains no cadmium.

alternate oil color choices

Yellow - Raw Sienna is a warm yellow made from natural earth minerals.

Red - Permanent Alizarin Crimson is a good dark red. It is handy to use to darken other reds. However Permanent Rose makes cleaner mixtures.

Green - Viridian Green is a good standby green that is less intense and easier to use than Thalo Green.

Choosing your Art Supplies for Oil Painting


Professional watercolor paints by Winsor Newton are my go-to paints with a few exceptions.

The quinacridone colors are clean, brilliant colors that make beautiful color mixtures. You will find Quinacridone Sienna and Quinacridone Violet from Daniel Smith. 

Peacock Blue from Holbein is one of my favorites. Coral Orange is a true orange from Old Holland.

The Winsor Blue and Green are actually Phthalocyanine colors under the Winsor & Newton brand.

Winsor Lemon is a single pigment Hansa yellow that mixes very well.

Winsor Lemon is a single pigment paint that mixes very well.
New Gamboge is a lovely warm yellow.
Coral Orange made by Old Holland is a true orange.
Quinacridone Sienna from Daniel Smith is a lovely, brilliant sienna paint color.
Quinacridone Red is a transparent red similar in tone to the opaque cadmium red.
Permanent Rose is the primary red color.
Quinacridone Violet is a rich reddish purple.
Dioxazine Violet is a strong, cool violet.
Ultramarine Blue is a favorite blue for painting artists.
Winsor Blue is a Phthalo Blue.
Winsor Green is a Phthalocyanine Green.
Sap Green is a nice warm green, but it is not good for mixing other colors.

alternate watercolor choices

Red - Permanent Alizarin Crimson may be used instead of Permanent Rose.

Green - Hookers Green or Viridian Green are both good greens.

get your watercolor Art Supplies

white completes your palette

  • Titanium white is a good white, when you are choosing paint colors for your oil palette.

Zinc white has more body and it is good for palette knife work.

However, it may have a tendency to crack or flake in the finished painting.

  • Watercolor artists use the paper in lieu of white paint.

There you have it - a simple way of choosing the best artist paint colors for your palette.

With the six rainbow colors from the color wheel, plus white you have all the colors you will ever need.

Clean, clear colors will enable you to mix any of the colors you see in nature. You can also mix the colors you see for sale at the paint store and save yourself money.

choose your artist paints and enjoy!

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