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by Susan Abbott

Here are the top five tips I would volunteer if asked about pigments:

1. Know the names and brands of the pigments on your palette. Painters say "I'm using Sennelier Permanent Alizarin Crimson", not "uuhhh...that's some kind of red..."

2. Build your palette around a wide range of primary colors (reds, yellows and blues) and a few secondary colors (violets, greens and oranges.) If you have a wide range of primaries, you can mix just about any secondary or neutral color ("neutrals" are blacks, browns and greys).

3. Make charts that show all of your pigments, both fully saturated (strong, pure color) and as tints  (mixed with water if watercolor, and with white if oils).  Until you're familiar with the value range of your colors, refer to these charts when you paint.

4. Buy "artist's grade" paint even if you're a student. Economize by buying a more limited range of colors (say, just a set of primary colors) rather than cheap paint with less color intensity.