My Essential Watercolour Palette:

Building Blocks for Clean Colours

A Shari Blaukopf online demo


Colour choice is always personal. Ask ten watercolour artists to list the must-have colours in their palettes and you’ll get ten different answers.

But after more than a decade of urban sketching, and even more years of watercolour painting and testing out countless pigments and brands, I have arrived at the colours that work best for me. That’s what this demo is about — my colours and, potentially, yours.

How to build your palette

I use the same 18 colours to fill both my small travel palette and my larger studio palettes. If you have a palette with only eight or ten wells, I have suggestions for these too.

In this 40-minute video, I’ll show you how I fill my palette with the colours I love best for achieving clean and fresh watercolour washes. You may not love all these colours as much as I do, but I'm certain that, by watching, you'll have a better idea in how to choose colours and fill your palette.

1.    We’ll start with my choices for a split-primary palette of six colours. In other words, a warm and a cool for each of the three primaries.

2.    From there, I’ll share my favourite earth tones.

3.    Then I’ll suggest four colours that are useful additions.

4.    Plus, six colours I can’t live without!

5.    We’ll finish up with a short demo of how to paint your own swatches — an often overlooked exercise that will help you gain a better understanding of paint colours.

And, of course, I’ll share pdfs of all my swatches with you.

In this demo we'll learn about:

Essential colours for watercolour artists


The expressive possibilities of a limited palette of six colours


Warm and cool colours, as well as some of my all-time favourites


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