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This blog post explores the six beautiful watercolors featured in Winsor & Newton's 2024 Watercolor Competition. We will look at beautiful color mixes and talk about three techniques for you to use in your sketches.

Before we dive in, a quick note about this year's competition rules and selection of colors. To take part in the contest, you can only use the six chosen colors. No other colors are allowed except for Titanium White for mixing. You can also use a graphite pencil in your artwork, but that's it. Click here to see your country's eligibility and rules.

Let's be honest: Winsor & Newton have not made it easy for us this year! The selection of colors is truly challenging. It took me a while to wrap my head around it and come up with ideas for my own sketches and a FREE workshop for you. But that's the beauty of this challenge! It pushes you to get out of the comfort of your go-to palette, think beyond your favorite tools and techniques, and look at the world from a different perspective.

I hope this post inspires you to explore and experiment.


The featured colors in this contest are Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolors. All of them, except Venetian Red, are granulating paints.

Here are two useful blog posts about Winsor & Newton paints:

How to read paint labels: 7 Important Characteristics

To make the most of these magnificent paints, use 100% cotton paper. This paper will bring out the best qualities of the paints and make your sketches more expressive.

Here are my two favorite Winsor & Newton options:

Read this post to see the difference between different types of watercolor paper.


For most watercolor sketches, you need several sizes. These Winsor & Newton's synthetic sable brushes are a popular choice.

Watch this video for a more detailed overview of the supplies:


Now let's take a closer look at each of the colors. When you get a new tube of paint, take some time to get to know the new color. Do a few washes and gradients to see how this paint works, and how opaque and saturated it is. Experiment with different amounts of pigment and water. Use different brushes and types of paper.

Tip: For better results, make your paints wet a few minutes before you start painting and make sure to saturate your brush with pigment and water.


Vibrant, luminous, granulating. Perfect for creating beautiful shades of green, for painting greenery and landscapes. Turquoise is one of my favorite colors and an essential ingredient of my sketching style. If you would like to take a closer look at turquoise (watercolors, gouache, pencils and markers), read this post.


Deep, rich, earthy, extremely granulating. A must-have for any (urban) sketcher. You can use it for doors, roofs, walls and bricks in your urban scenes. It will also work great for flowers, birds, and people (skin tones).


Semi-opaque and granulating. Use it to add granulation to non-granulating colors.

Lemon Yellow Deep is a beautiful color on its own, but its real magic happens when you mix it with other colors:

Lemon Yellow Deep + Cobalt Turquoise = beautiful tropical sea

Lemon Yellow Deep + Venetian Red = roofs, walls, flowers


Delicate and transparent. This color is still a mystery to me as I am used to working with much brighter colors. It could work in water or greenery, mixed with Cobalt Turquoise. It can be used to add cool hues to warmer colors. Great for skin tones, too.


This is a gorgeous color, highly recommended! Super-grainy, delicate and transparent.

Tip: add it to Venetian Red for a cooler shade. I will be using it in my watercolor workshop (see below).


Add it to your urban sketching palette this season! It is great for painting walls, roofs, roads, tree trunk. The granulation and the warm caramel-like color will make your sketches more expressive and bright.

Tip: this color also looks great when mixed with Cobalt Violet.



Here are my top choices of color mixes:

And here are some mixes with a few other colors on my palette. You can't use them in this year's competition, but I couldn't keep them from you! Save for later.


Limiting your palette to just 6 colors and having no other tools like colored pencils and fineliners puts your creativity to the test! Here are three techniques you can play with for a start.

Technique 1. Using just one color

This technique is great for practicing tones, shadows and layering, and for getting the water/pigment ratio right.

Here are two things to keep in mind:

  • Use a dark pigment (Cobalt Turquoise or Venetian Red, if you are taking part in the Watercolor Competition). A darker pigment gives you a good range of tones and a dark enough color for shadows.

  • Study the reference carefully before you start painting, observe where the lighter/darker parts and shadows are. It is helpful to do a study in black and white first so that you are not distracted by color.

Technique 2. Proper Painting

Most of my readers (you, too?) are sketchers, which means we rely heavily on fineliners, brush pens, and colored pencils to make our artwork expressive. We hardly ever use a wide range of painting techniques. Once again, this competition challenges us to take our skills to the next level.

The trickiest part is painting the darkest areas and creating shadows. The colors in this year's selection are not very dark. For shadows on Venetian Red, you can simply use thicker paint. As for the other colors, you will have to be more creative and do some mixing.

In this sketch, the shadows on the doors are made with Venetian Red + Lemon Yellow Deep + Cobalt Turquoise. Mixed in different proportions, these colors can create a dark green or a dark brown color depending on the ratio.

Technique 3. Use a graphite pencil to give your sketch a more defined shape

This painting starts with a very rough shape of a flower. Then you use a smaller brush to correct the shape if necessary. Refine with a pencil.

This technique is great as a warm-up. You can also practice painting with a large brush, mixing colors and letting go of perfectionism.

Overall, it looks like these 6 colors are great for painting flowers. You can create a variety of beautiful colors and shapes. If this is something you would like to try, join me for a FREE live workshop on June 6 at 7pm CET or watch the recording later. Click the button below to get access to the workshop.

If you have found this post useful, here are a few ways you can learn from me:

  • Watch my videos on YouTube. I have an extensive collection of inspirational videos, sketching tutorials for watercolors, gouache, colored pencils and markers.

  • Read my Monday newsletter. I share sketching tips, workshop announcements and other resources to help you on your creative journey. If you sign up for the workshop, you will be added to my email list, too.

  • Join Brave Brushes Studio, my club for amateur artists and urban sketchers. If you are looking for a way to work on your skills consistently or if you want to connect with other sketchers, get feedback on your work and have access to a vast Library of learning resources, Brave Brushes is the place to be! Use coupon code WN2024 at checkout to get 10% off your first payment. Cancel any time.


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Hello, I'm Julia Henze.



Art is my passion. Urban Sketching is my love.

My work (and this site) is devoted to sharing ideas, tools, and resources that will help you to find your way in the world of art.

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