In a limited palette of just twenty colors, each one needs to be a “go to” hue. While adding fresh paint recently, I realized that Chromium Green was virtually untouched. It’s a strong, neutral green, but has a milky look to it that doesn’t really fit the way I paint. So, out it goes. But what to put in its place?
Rooting through my tackle box yielded 6 candidates: Rare Green Earth, Undersea, Olive, Pthalo Yellow/Green, Cobalt Turquoise and Pthalo Turquoise.
After doing quick paint swatches and lifting tests, I painted a series of blended strips. Each green stayed in the same location as on the test chart for easy reference. I wet a small rectangle, dropped in the green, then added one of six colors that are used frequently:
As you can see, Pthalo Turquoise dropped out pretty quickly. Almost identical to Cobalt Turquoise, it lacked the granulation Cobalt gave. Rare Green Earth was next to go. It’s very grey, which was interesting, but it likes to sit where you put it and needs lots of coaxing to move. Undersea would probably have a home in a larger palette.
The finalists came down to three: Olive, Pthalo Y/G and Cobalt Turquoise. Olive will go into the “working stash” and be used for horsey browns. Cobalt Turquoise will replace Chromium Green, and Pthalo Y/G will replace either New Gamboge or Quinacridone Gold. (Another round of testing ahead!)
I’m a firm believer that the better you know your colors, the more likely you are to get predictable results in watercolor. This entire testing process took about 90 minutes, and was a great way to get to know these six greens.