Colour Palette

“Is this watercolour? It looks like oils it is so rich!” I am often asked what colours 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 watercolour.


Because they allow our paintings to glow. Think of several fine layers of colour, laid one on top of the other. Each one will be influenced by those laid beneath them. The final colour glows like a jewel because the colours 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 colour houses for very different colours. 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 colours are crucial in the success of unsullied colour using my methods.

The 12 Schmincke colours I use (with their Schmincke numbers). You can find where to purchase them on my ‘Art Materials’ page here:

• Aureolin Hue (previously Aureolin Modern) (208)
• Indian Yellow (220)
• Transparent Orange (previously Translucent Orange) (218)
• Scarlet Red (363)
• Alizarin Crimson (357) (for alternative see below)
• Ruby Red (351)
• Purple Magenta (367)
• Ultramarine Finest (494)
• Phthalo Blue (484)
• Phthalo Green (519)
• Sap Green (530)
• Payne’s Grey Bluish (787)

If you are concerned about the light fastness of Alizarin Crimson, a good alternative I have found is the Daniel Smith Anthraquinoid Red (item number 284600005)

Fine art by Susan Harrison-Tustain

All 12 Schmincke colours are available in 5ml and great value 15ml tubes. These can be bought individually or for your convenience they are available in a Susan Harrison-Tustain signature set of pigments. This set of 12 x 5ml tubes is presented in a stylish black Japanned tin box with fold out mixing trays. You can find out more about it here:

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

To create a gorgeous Sap Green:

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

To create a brilliant purple:

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

To create a rich dark luminous transparent black:

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

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

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

Complementary colours:







Fine art by Susan Harrison-Tustain

By using transparent colours you will not create mud. You can create browns and earth colours 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 colours 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 colours, 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!

Visit Us
Follow Me

Subscribe To Susan's Newsletters

Join my email list to receive the latest news and updates on upcoming exhibitions, workshops, DVD/download releases, promotions, art tours, painting hints and tips and more.


Thank you for subscribing!