Understanding Your Watercolours: A Rembrandt Colour Wheel

On my recent sketching trip to Portugal, I travelled aroud the Algarve region with fellow sketcher Hélio Boto. His watercolour set of choice was a box of six half pans by Rembrandt.
“How do you find them?” I asked.
“I like them,” said Hélio. “The thing about Rembrandt watercolours is that they are so transparent.”
I was immediately interested as I love my watercolours to be very transparent. I kept an eye on Hélio’s sketches – you can see them for yourself on Instagram as @helioboto – and I loved the clear, deep result he achieved with his colours. So I decided to buy a set on my return. I haven’t bought a box of watercolours for a couple of years (we won’t mention the amount of tubes of watercolour I’ve bought) and I fancied a little treat. I am always looking for transparent colours, so it sounded good to me. I decided I would paint a colour wheel to take them for a test drive, so to speak.

The presentation was beautiful, a pretty cardboard sleeve on a sturdy cardboard box on a sturdy metal tin. Off I went with a little video…

And the colours?

So far so good. I really liked the colours in the Basic Set. They are transparent and clear, rich but not too creamy.

Making a colour wheel is a great way to get to know your watercolours, and to see what colour combinations are possible using just three of the colours. If you would like to do the same thing, I have outlined the steps below. It’s easy – if you do it right – and you may have done this before. But I’ve been surprised by how many people have not made a colour wheel before, and how many refer to it when they’ve done it.

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