choosing paint colors

for your artist's palette

choosing paint colors

for your artist's palette

what colors should you put on your palette?

  • How do you go about choosing paint colors?

There is such a bewildering array of beautiful paint colors available.

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 of our art palettes.
Choosing Paint Colors by the rainbow Paint with the colors of the Rainbow

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what to look for when you choose paint colors

student paints and professional art paints

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.

  • Professional paints are actually a better buy in the long run.

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

When you are choosing paint colors find out how many pigments are used to make the paint.

If possible select single pigment paints.

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

health precautions?

Cadmium colors are beautiful, brilliant colors, but they are associated with a health hazard.

So they are not included on the list. The same goes for Cobalt Blue.

choosing paint colors for your art palette

oil colors

Years ago I switched from the traditional oil paints to alkyds because they dry much faster.

"Ad" Winsor Newton Griffin Alkyds have an excellent reputation with good quality paints.

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

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 Light, 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 red instead of Permanent Rose.


  • Viridian Green is a good standby green that is less intense than Thalo Green.

Choosing your Art Supplies for Oil Painting


"Ad" 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 "Ad" Daniel Smith

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

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

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

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. It may have a tendency to crack or flake in the finished painting.

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

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

Two Stripies, a watercolor painting by Carol MayColors make painting fun!
  • 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 and save yourself a lot of cash.

choose the rainbow paint colors - enjoy!

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