• My Paints and Palette

    My husband Cam and I were discussing pigment colors and paint over the dinner table.  You know, typical married couple chit chat.  Cam is an oil painter currently attending Arizona State for his MFA.  We must have talked about it for at least half an hour–about the different colors we have tried and how we mix them.  We talked about our palettes.  I said to Cam, “You know, I work with my palette just about every day, but I never talk about it.”  I realized that I have a love affair with my color palette, working closely with it to create my illustrations.  I thought I would share some details about what I work with to create my watercolor paintings.



    I am brand loyal with my paints, and I mostly use a combination of Winsor Newton and Michael Smith depending on the color.  My favorite color is Daniel Smith’s Pyrrol Scarlet.  It is very bright.  Currently I am using Daniel Smith’s Quinacridone Rose for fuscia and Hansa Yellow Deep as my main yellow, but I’m not too particular about using a consistent hue or brand for them.  In fact they can vary quite a bit but that keeps things exciting.  I use Daniel Smith Cobalt Blue.  You have to be careful not to over mix the blue or it will get muddy very quickly.  By itself or mixed lightly with one other color, it is magical.  I used to mix Windsor Newton’s Brown Madder with Antwerp Blue to make all my darks.  These days I use Daniel Smith Perylene Maroon with the Antwerp because it creates a much richer darks.  I also use Winsor Newton Professional Green Gold, Winsor Newton Winsor Green (Blue Shade).  I use both Winsor Newton Bismuth Yellow and Winsor Newton Professional Winsor Red sparingly.  Red is a very flat color, so a lot of other colors get mixed with it to create dimension.  I also use M. Graham & Co. Cobalt Teal.  I don’t own a tube of black or white.  Straight black is very flat and to lighten color, I just add water.



    The palette I use is the one I got in Intro to Watercolor in college.  It folds up nicely for storage or travel.  I am starting to wonder if I should get a larger palette, since I don’t have room for all of my pigments in the little slots anymore.  I was thinking recently that I should clean my palette.  This is something I probably do no more than once a year.  I always have a spot of mixed paint in the center where I make my dark pigments.  In one of the slots there is a random blue that varies from random tubes.  I never remember what paint is actually in that slot and I don’t use it very often.  I don’t have a whole lot of explanation beyond that for it.



    I am not a brush snob.  I like to go to different craft stores when there is a sale and get a cheap pack of multitple sized brushes.  I only use round brushes and I don’t like them to be too absorbent or it won’t release the water and paint onto the paper.  I also stock up on nicer quality fine tips when one of the local art shops is having a sale.  I keep my brushes in a rotating wire container that was meant for cutlery.


    Other Supplies

    I use a mason jar for water and I keep my paints in one of those plastic pencil boxes that kids use in grade school.  I also use facial tissue.  When people watch me paint, they often think that I must have made a mistake when I grab a tissue.  This could not be further from the truth.  Using tissue is all part of the process of creating watercolor…at least it is for me.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here,

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

  • The Painted Desert with Rebecca Green


    Last week I had the privilege of working with illustrator Rebecca Green on her mural project “The Painted Desert.”  She flew in from Denver, Colorado to sunny Phoenix, Arizona for the occasion.  Painting a mural is a large project to tackle and takes several days to finish so Becca had a team of creative folks helping her along the way.


    On the first night Becca took her final sketch and projected it onto the side of the building, The Lodge Studio, where Becca used to work when she lived in Phoenix.  There was a little bit of chaos moving the bulky projector around to get it placed just right.  It sort of ended up in the street.  Studio mates Abbey Messmer and Rafael Navarro were there to assist as well.  Once in place, we used thin brushes to apply the outlines of the sketch to the wall.



    As I said before, the process took several days.  I was not able to be there to help Becca the whole time, but when I was it was really fun.


    I learned a lot about color.  Becca used a limited color palette.  The first layer was monochromatic and she added bright colors over it to accent the whole piece.  Choosing the colors was an experiment.  The time of day effected how the colors looked with the direction of the sun.  The colors needed to be mixed just right so that they all married well together in the composition.


    Becca said that she was afraid of using bright colors and I laughed because I have always struggled using muted colors.  I am learning that muted colors are very important to composition.  They help balance the color composition.  I am learning that they are not as boring as I used to think because they make brighter colors look their best.  Together they can create magic.


    We went out for a drive in the warm sun and chatting it up and losing ourselves in great conversation as we made pit stops for paint and supplies.  When it was time to paint, I really enjoyed standing on the scaffolding barefoot painting in the afternoon sun.  We talked about art and life and everything in between.  Although Becca and I are only about a month apart in age, and we both grew up in Michigan, we have had very different experiences in our lives that have brought us to where we are today.


    There is a local vegan restaurant across the street from The Lodge called Bragg’s.  They generously offered us a piece of pie 🙂  We both had a slice of blueberry almond.  It was delicious!


    The mural is now complete and it looks beautiful.  It has been a pleasure to assist Becca with this.  I will smile every time I drive by “The Painted Desert” mural at The Lodge studio.

  • You Baubble Believe it!

    giftware, design, colorful, illustration

    This design was created for the gift market.  It was part of the “Make Art that Sells” course with illustration agent Lilla Rogers.

    Amy DeCaussin specializes in Illustration.  View her work here,

    For illustration, image licensing, agent representation,

    and other creative projects contact Amy:

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