choosing the best artist paint colors for your art palette

  • How do you go about 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!

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

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 best artist paint colors for our art palettes.

Choosing the best artist paint / Paint with Rainbow Colors

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what to look for when choosing the best artist paint colors

student Vs. professional artist paints

  • Professional paints are a better buy.

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

Professional artist 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.

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.

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.

oil 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.

Here is a warm and cool version of each of the six rainbow colors. If you are choosing paint colors in traditional oil paints, you will find similar names.

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


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


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


Viridian Green is a good standby green that is less intense 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 Thalo colors under the Winsor & Newton brand.

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

alternate watercolor choices


Permanent Alizarin Crimson may be used instead of Permanent Rose.


Hookers Green or Viridian Green

get your watercolor Art Supplies

white completes your palette

  • Add white when choosing paint colors for your oil palette. Titanium white is a good white.

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.

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

With the six rainbow colors and white you have all the colors you will ever need.

Clean, clear colors 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 the rainbow paint colors - enjoy!

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