My favorite encaustic tools post was so popular I wanted to write about my favorite encaustic paint colors as well. There are so many amazing colors out there, it is overwhelming to choose! When choosing, we all tend to gravitate toward our favorites or the bright, pretty colors. Unfortunately, what we overlook by doing this are the most amazing earth tones, grays and colors that may look a little blah in the raw, but when melted on the palette, truly come alive. The colors I’ve listed here are not to be used as a guide for color mixing or as basis for a beginner to start a color collection. Rather, these are the colors I choose to work with again and again, they are my favorites no matter the palette. I also want to mention that I never use any color ‘straight out of the tube’, meaning all of the colors in my paintings are mixed-made up of 2 to 5 colors. I always choose the colors below because when added to other colors in small doses, they slightly alter those colors and create a more personalized palette for my work. Last, these are by no means ALL the colors I use, I use many, many more…too many…I hoard encaustic paint! These are simply the colors I use most frequently, the colors I never put ‘away’ so they are always out for me to grab.
I was having the most difficult time deciding how to photograph the paints for this post, so I thought I would do something fun-I just photographed them on top of an in progress painting and as-is-dirty, gritty, cut up, melty with other colors on them. The images hint at my process, plus the paints themselves look like little sculptures! If you want to see the clean versions of the paints, just click on the name below and you’ll be taken to the distributor’s web site. This list is in no particular order and my explanations should be used as suggestions only, there is no right or wrong here. For more comprehensive suggestions and color mixing ideas, take a workshop with me this summer or fall, I discuss color mixing in all of them. I hope this list introduces you to a color that makes your current palette sing!
- Neutral White I have used this color since I started painting in encaustic sixteen years ago and painted with it almost exclusively then. When mixed with any color, it lightens and makes it a bit more earthy. Also, when mixed 50/50 with zinc white, it’s the perfect white-not as bright white as titanium and slightly richer than zinc alone.
- Alizarin Orange I LOVE this color. Bright and versatile, it can go from a light gold to a rich rusty orange in one swipe. When mixed with white or any other color, it retains it’s richness.
- Payne’s Grey I use this instead of black to darken any color. For me, black tends to deaden the color as it darkens, while this one allows the original color to retain it’s voice.
- Brown Pink Like alizarin orange, brown pink changes color from a subtle pink-taupe to a rich brown taupe. I mix it to add a dark earthiness to any color.
- Warm Pink Like neutral white, I have used this color since I started painting in encaustic. It brightens any color and when mixed with a little and painted next to or on top of earthy blues, grays or greens, the eyes vibrate!
- Warm Grey (limited edition color not pictured on R&F page-see my pic below) BRING IT BACK!! PLEASE!!
- Brilliant Yellow Extra Pale I love to use this color instead of white as it not only lightens, it adds just a touch of yellow and whimsy as it brightens as well.
- Cobalt Yellow Use in place of yellow to ‘sour’ any color. I love it as it’s just a bit off and when painted next to any color, the colors sing!
- Olive Yellow Works just like cobalt yellow, but is a bit brighter.
- Celadon Green Love this in place of white as a mixer or to slightly gray down a color. This is one of the few I would paint straight out of the tube in place of white.
- Cobalt Blue A bright, clear blue, I use it more than any other blue.
- Warm Rose I use this color much in the same way I use warm pink, but this one is just a bit more pink and anyone who knows me knows how I love pink! Mixing this color with warm pink is my go to pink.
- Malachite Green I use this color way too much. It’s one of those colors that changes as it’s painted next to different colors. It makes any color and any painting sing.
- Aquamarine Blue (limited edition color not pictured on R&F page-see my pic below) I purchased the entire inventory of this color at a past encaustic conference and I’m on my last of it!! BRING IT BACK!! I NEED THIS COLOR!!
- Cerulean Extra Pale Not quite gray, white or blue, it’s an amazing substitute for either of those colors to mix or use straight out of the tube…wait..did I just say that?
- Green Gold I use this color constantly as I do cobalt yellow. It adds a bit of ‘sour’ to any color and makes other colors sing when its painted next to them.
- Turkey Umber Greenish This is probably one of the most overlooked color in the R&F line as it looks dead and dull in the packaging and really not much better when its melted. However, try mixing it with any blue, green, black for an amazing richness. Also, try adding just a touch of it to any warm color to gray down, but not make gray. Its truly one of those indispensable colors that no one seems to use!
- Phthalo Turquoise Another color that looks dead in the package and like black when it’s melted, it is actually one of the brightest and most versatile colors. Add just a touch of any white and watch the magic happen.
- Cadmium Lemon A great substitute for any of the cadmium yellows, it ‘sours’ anything its mixed with and makes any pairing colors sing! I use it like cobalt yellow and olive yellow, this one is much more clear and can also be used to slightly lighten and brighten any color.
Enkaustikos I can’t link directly to each color, so this link goes to all of the colors listed below, just scroll the list to see the color.
- Opal Aquamarine I love this color so much I buy it in huge bulk and for all of my workshops. It makes any blue or green bluer and richer, like the most amazing, clear glacier water.
- Golden Buff Titanium I’m a sucker for any white and this one is indispensable as a white with a touch of a tan or use as a basis for flesh tones.
- Warm Pearl Want just a bit of a glimmer, this is your answer. It adds just a tiny bit of shimmer without being garish and without much of a change to the original color.
- Indian Yellow Bright, clear, not quite yellow, not quite orange. I reach for it time and again in place of yellow and mixing it with R&F’s Alizarin Orange is magical.
- Anthraquinone Blue Looks black in the package and melted on the palette, but mixed with black, blue or Payne’s Gray produces the most amazingly rich dark midnight blue.
- Super Gold Pearl I’m not a metallic, shiny person, but when I want to add shimmer PLUS a little golden glam, this is the color I use. It’s not quite gold, which is too BUY GOLD STRIP MALL STORE for my taste, this one is a bit more antique-aged, if you will.
- Orange, Red, Blue, Green Interference Colors Hylla knows her shimmer and does it best. Again, I’m not a shimmer, shiny person, but the interference colors do just that-add a bit of a surface light reflection to the surface of any color.
- Rose Gold This is the first color I ever purchased from Evans and I go through it like water. It’s pink, so that’s one reason and the other is that touch of rich gold shimmer.
- Buff Again, I’m a sucker for any white. I love this in place of white to lighten any color and add an earthiness as well. Can also be used straight out of the tube in place of white.
- Cold Steel (Limited Edition, Renamed or Discontinued, not pictured on Evans site-see my pic below) Sort of silver and gold together, just a lovely addition when mixed with grays and blacks.
- Glowing Sky I’m totally into blue lately and need all kinds of blues to round out my palette. This one has just the right mix of lavender and gray with just a touch of shimmer, it’s different from any other blue.
- Cloisonne Pink (Limited Edition, Renamed or Discontinued, not pictured on Evans site-see my pic below) What can I say, you know me and pink!
Kama Pigments I can’t link directly to each color, so this link goes to all of the colors listed below, just scroll the list to see the color.
- Rose Hornyak/Hornyak’s Pink Again, me and pink-I’ll buy any pink. This one is so Pepto Bismol its almost gross, but it does so many things that the average pink doesn’t do! It adds just that tiny bit of purple that makes other colors vibrate. Try mixing this with Alizarin Orange and/or Warm Pink and/or Brown Pink for a pink magic fest.
- Buff Titanium Another white that went on vacation and got a tan. I love this one because even though it’s tan, it’s still got the brightness of titanium.
- Mesquite All of the colors in Miles’ line are as mysterious and enigmatic as their desert inspiration. Is it brown or gray or red or all three. I love this color for it’s changes depending on what it’s painted against. As a mixer, it adds a rich earthiness.
- Sunset Orange-Is it pink or orange, this is is another color that just sings. Mix it with any of the oranges or pinks or even yellows above and the magic begins.