choosing paint colors

my favorite paint colors

how did i go about choosing my colors?

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

colors in nature

I thought - what are the colors in nature? Oh the colors of the rainbow!

Well let's see, we have red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

There is also a dark blue between the blue and purple, called Indigo.

This greatly simplified my color choices.

Excluding Indigo, there are basically six colors in the rainbow.

Now, how do I use this knowledge for choosing paint colors for my palette?

Choosing Paint Colors by the rainbow Rainbow Colors

choosing paint colors

There are many wonderful brands of paint. I usually use Winsor Newton paints. They have an excellent reputation with good quality paints.

It is important to note the difference between student and professional grade paints. Student grade paints are less expensive for starting out. They contain less pigment, so they cost less to manufacture.

I recommend you use professional artist paints that contain more pigment. Consequently they cover better during painting.

color pages **you are here

Color Wheel

**My Favorite Colors

How To Choose Your Colors

How To Mix Colors

Color Schemes

transparent colors

When choosing paint colors, I purposely chose transparent colors. Transparent colors allow the white of the canvas or paper to show thru the paint. That makes the colors appear more brilliant.

single pigment colors

One of the criteria I follow when I am choosing paint colors is to find how many pigments are used to manufacture the paint.

Paints that are made with only one pigment mix well with other colors. They produce clean color mixtures.

All of the Alkyd paints I use are single pigment paints. An exception is one convenience color I use, Sap Green.

oil colors

Years ago I switched from the traditional oil paints to alkyd paints, but the colors are the same.

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

Oil painters may use a limited palette.

alternate oil color choices


  • Cadmium Yellow Deep is much the same color as Indian Yellow.
  • Raw Sienna is a warm yellow I often use.


  • Winsor Red is much like Cadmium Red Light. All of the cadmium colors are very brilliant. However the cadmium colors are opaque and they do not mix well with other colors.
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson was on my palette for years instead of Permanent Rose. It mixes easily with Viridian to make black.


  • Viridian Green is a good green.


  • Cobalt Blue is popular nice clear blue.

Choosing your Art Supplies for Oil Painting


I use the professional watercolor paints by Winsor Newton, with a few exceptions.

In the past, I included Indigo on my palette. It is the darker blue color in the rainbow. Now I just mix it.

The quinacridone colors are clean, brilliant colors. They make beautiful color mixtures. i purchase Quinacridone Sienna and Quinacridone Violet from Daniel Smith. 

I am particularly fond of is Peacock Blue from Holbein. My Coral Orange is a true orange from Old Holland.

The Winsor Blue and Green are actually Thalo colors Winsor puts under their brand name.

Winsor Lemon is a single pigment Hansa yellow.

alternate watercolor choices


  • You may want to use Cadmium Red Light for Winsor Red.
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson may be used instead of Permanent Rose.


  • Cobalt Blue is a nice clear blue.


  • Hookers Green or Viridian Green for Winsor Green (which is Thalo Green).

Watercolor Art Supplies

white completes your palette

After choosing paint colors for your palette, add white to your oil palette for mixing paint colors. Titanium white is the white I use.

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

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

These clean, clear colors will enable you to mix any of the beautiful colors you see in nature. You can also mix any color you see for sale at the paint store.

There you have it - a simple way of choosing paint colors.


color pages **you are here

Color Wheel

**My Favorite Colors

How To Choose Your Colors

How To Mix Colors

Color Schemes

  1. Home
  2. Color Wheel
  3. Choosing Colors

more Pages for you

Recent Articles

  1. Mastering Watercolor for Beginners - answers to beginners questions

    Oct 08, 18 06:05 PM

    The Tyrannosaurus jumped from the firehouse to the gate - What? How is this mastering watercolor for beginners?

    Read More

  2. Painting Watercolor Flowers with artist Carol May

    Oct 05, 18 05:57 PM

    The single most important thing you need to know about painting watercolor flowers is watercolor is fun! I never tire of the beauty and suspense of the watercolors flowing and moving. It is fun to let…

    Read More

  3. Confidently Paint A Butterfly with watercolors

    Oct 02, 18 03:36 AM

    How you can paint a butterfly from start to finish with five easy steps. Confidently begin painting your own watercolor butterfly paintings with this easy to follow tutorial.

    Read More