A Palette for Beginners

A Palette for Beginners

© 2019 Richele Baburina

Anyone getting started with—or continuing with—brush drawing sooner or later asks the question: what colors should be on my palette? In my continued research of artist and PNEU luminary Emeline Steinthal, I’ve discovered a simple 9-color palette that she recommended for beginners. Here are the original colors along with a 21st-century equivalent or swap:

Historical Contemporary
Sap Green Sap Green
Yellow Ochre Yellow Ochre
Chrome Lemon Yellow
Cobalt Cobalt
Sepia Raw Umber
Vermilion Vermilion
Light Red Burnt Sienna
Crimson Lake Carmine or Alizarin Lake
Vandyke Brown Vandyke Brown


These nine combine well to provide a range of colors especially good for painting from nature. For example, mix:

Cobalt + Lemon Yellow = Green
Cobalt + Carmine = Purple
Cobalt + Burnt Sienna + smidge of Yellow Ochre = Gray
Vermilion + Lemon Yellow = Orange
Vermilion + Burnt Sienna or Raw Umber = Deep Red
Sap Green + Lemon Yellow = Yellow Green
Sap Green + Burn Sienna = Autumnal Green

I share this list not as a call to throw out your current palette of colors but as a place to start or explore based on the fine artistic sense of Mrs. Steinthal.