Colour Palette

“Is this watercolor? It looks like oils it is so rich!” I am often asked what colors I use to create my luminous and transparent reality.

It is not a straightforward answer. But one of the main reasons my work looks as if the subject has a presence is because I use a multi-layered technique using transparent or semi-transparent watercolor.


Because they allow our paintings to glow. Think of several fine layers of color, laid one on top of the other. Each one will be influenced by those laid beneath them. The final color glows like a jewel because the colors are unsullied by opaque pigment.

I will share my magical palette of hues below. But first – let me explain a very important factor when choosing pigments: Not all hues are equal! The same names are often used by the color houses for very different colors. They are not interchangeable. For instance Indian Yellow in one brand is very opaque – but in the brand I use – it is very transparent. Transparent colors are crucial in the success of unsullied color using my methods.



These are Schmincke colors and are available at many of the large art supply stores:

1. 208 Aureolin Modern

2. 220 Indian Yellow

3. 218 Translucent Orange

4. 363 Scarlet Red

5. 357 Alizarin Crimson

6. 351 Ruby Red

7. 367 Purple Magenta

8. 484 Phthalo blue

9. 494 Ultramarine Finest

10. 519 Phthalo Green

11. 530 Sap Green

12. 787 Paynes Grey Bluish

Fine art by Susan Harrison-Tustain

These can be bought individually or for your convenience they are available in a Susan Harrison-Tustain signature set of pigments. This set is presented in a stylish black Japanned tin box with fold out mixing trays.

I have a few favorite mixes that I like to share on my Watercolor DVDs and also with those on my workshops:

To create a gorgeous Sap Green:

Mix Sap Green with Translucent Orange = fabulous, clean, fresh and very transparent green.

To create a brilliant purple:

Thalo Green and Purple Magenta = stunning clean purple ideal for floral studies

To create a rich dark luminous transparent black:

Mix Alizarin Crimson with Thalo Green – add a touch of Thalo Blue

If your color is too strident or you simply wish to grey if off slightly – just mix a touch of the complementary color to it and voila – you have the perfect subdued color – that juxtaposed to other bright colors, will allow them to really sing.

You can dull a colour down to create beautiful grey – by simply adding more of the complementary color to a hue.


Complementary colors:







Fine art by Susan Harrison-Tustain

By using transparent colors you will not create mud. You can create browns and earth colors that will resemble mud in hue – but they will always glow beautifully from within. My teaching methods and this limited palette of colours have been especially chosen after years of experimentation. They can be used to create any subject at all. If you wish to view a wide and very varied range of subjects painted using this palette please click on this link to the painting gallery on my website.

Watch this magical palette of colors bring paintings to life. See all the unique methods and techniques I use as you learn my innovative and invaluable lessons on how to mix colours, layer colors, lift, mould form, push-pull your subject to allow it to sit comfortably within the composition.  This is touching on just a very few of the enormous number of lessons you will discover in my two-disc DVD sets and video downloads.

You will see how my methods and techniques along with this wonderful palette of colours will help you to create your own magic with confidence. You will find it is easy to adapt my methods and use my palette for any subject matter, surface or texture at all.

Try my palette and you will see what I mean.

Above all – have fun!

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