liz donovan palette
Source: Painting Sunlit Still Lifes in Watercolor by Liz Donovan. North Light Books, 1997. © 1997 Liz Donovan.

20 : cadmium lemon (PY35), aureolin (? PY40), cadmium yellow (PY35), raw sienna (PBr7), yellow ochre (PY43), nickel dioxine yellow (PY153), burnt sienna (PBr7), burnt umber (PBr7), light red (PR101), indian red (PR101), cadmium red (PR108), alizarin crimson (? PR83), rose madder genuine (? NR9), dioxazine violet (PV23), ultramarine blue (PB29), cobalt blue (PB28), phthalocyanine blue RS (PB15:1), cerulean blue (PB35), phthalocyanine green BS (PG7), viridian (PG18) • The doubled but isolated green paints, and the wide spacing between yellows and reds, suggests that Liz Donovan's palette is based on the artists' primary palette. However the large number of paints, including the saturated purple and six iron oxide ("earth") paints, indicates that her painting preferences lean toward the colorist palette.

By widely separating the reds from the yellows, choosing dark valued or unsaturated crimson or rose paints, and including a large number of earth tones, Donovan clearly strives for subdued color effects on the warm side of the color space with the highest saturations around yellow, her symbol for the color of light. The painting above shows the impact of these choices: a neutralized color space that naturally centers around warm maroons, browns and golds.

The two greens provide staining and nonstaining alternatives for the same hue, with the nonstaining viridian also being slightly less saturated. These two paints transmute the yellows and blues into a very wide range of greens. Mixtures of cadmium lemon or aureolin with phthalo green give bright but natural yellow greens.

The choice of blues is entirely conventional and consistent with the palettes of many other of the artists shown here. The range of styles indicates that blues are rarely a pivotal choice in a painter's palette — most of the major differences appear in the selection and spacing of the warm colors.

The darkest values mix from alizarin crimson and phthalo green, or the orange earths burnt sienna or burnt umber with ultramarine or phthalo blue.