Yellow Watercolour

Yellow Watercolour

What you need to know about Yellow Watercolour, mixing and application.

Mixing with Yellow

When mixing colours it is important to know the temperature of the colours you're wanting to mix.

Each primary colour can be:

  1. Cool (more blue)
  2. Mid (neutral)
  3. Warm (more red)

We also need to know whether we want the colour we’re mixing to be saturated or muted.

If we want a saturated colour, we must only mix colours in the same temp’ category. So, to get a saturated green, we must mix a Cool yellow with a Cool blue.

If we mix a Cool yellow with a warm blue, the resulting green will be more muted or “muddy” - I love muted or muddy colours, contrary to what is popular in botanical art.

For the perfect palette, ideally we need 6 colours:

  1. Cool Yellow
  2. Warm Yellow
  3. Cool Red
  4. Warm Red
  5. Cool Blue
  6. Warm Blue

Indian Yellow is a Warm Yellow. It has more red than blue in it.

List of Yellows (with Links)




Pure Pigment Yellows vs Mixed Pigment Yellows

A pure pigment is made using a single pigment.

If a pigment is mixed, it will have two or more codes instead of one (eg. PY129/PB60).

Ideally, we want to look for single pigment colours. Throughout history, pure pigments are often banned for their toxicity or they are simply too expensive to produce - resulting in the need to “mix” the original colours using various pigments.

Example: Indian Yellow was banned in the 17th Century because of the supposed harm it did to cattle during its production. Today’s Indian yellow is achieved by mixing Transparent Red Oxide (PR101) and Isoindoline Yellow (PY139).

This really is not an issue for most people, but it makes me sad at the loss of the colour. The pure and mixed pigment colours may look the same to the naked eye, but they are not the same. You can see in this spectrometry test by Just Paint that the hue pigments (mixed) have very different results to the original pigment.

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