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Mixing Colours With Jane's Grey Watercolours
In this article, learn how watercolour artist Jane Blundell uses a special mix of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue created by Daniel Smith to her specifications.
Image of a watercolour painting by Jane Blundell using Jane's Grey Watercolor Paint from Daniel Smith

Written by Jane Blundell


DANIEL SMITH Jane’s Grey Watercolor was created by mixing Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue, which is one of my favorite mixing pairs. This combination of two neutralizing pigments make a wonderful range of beautiful hues, from warm navy blues to deep burnt umbers and a lovely range of greys.

Image of Daniel Smith Watercolors
Image of a painting of Jane
Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna mixed colours by Jane Blundell​​

While many people create their own variations of this common two-pigment mix, I decided many years ago to pre-mix it and have it available in my palette as a convenience grey, rather than mix it on the fly every time I needed it. This allows darker and stronger greys to be used more quickly, which saves time when painting en plein air.


I posted the instructions to make my particular version and I’d been putting it in my students’ palettes for years, so I had to name it something. I rather liked the pun on Payne’s Grey. But unlike most other greys, Jane’s Grey doesn’t have black in it. It is made with two liftable (non-staining) pigments so it is itself liftable. This makes it easier to lift out clouds in a stormy sky, soften shadows, or lift out other highlights.


It is also granulating which is rather nice, and without the often deadening effect of a black pigment, it stays lively on the paper. Needless to say, I use it all the time. Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue are such palette staples, that it always works in any of my paintings or sketches. In mixing, it acts as a neutral tint, darkening other colours without changing them.

Mixing with Jane’s Grey – Cerulean Chromium, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), Goethite and Burnt Sienna by Jane Blundell​​
Mixing with Jane’s Grey – Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrol Scarlet, Pyrrol Crimson, Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine Blue by Jane Blundell​​
Mixing grid from the Ultimate Mixing Half Pan Set, including Jane’s Grey
Mixing grid from the Ultimate Mixing Half Pan Set, including Jane’s Grey by​​ Jane Blundell

In paintings and sketches, I use it for skies and shadows, windows and concrete, for the shadows on trees or people, or to deepen another colour. It’s a great colour to have available and I’m delighted it’s now in a tube for those who don’t want to have to mix it all the time.

This article was provided our friends at DANIEL SMITH