Looking for Payne's grey

Payne's grey is one of numerous colors , like Van Dyck or Hooker's green, to be named after a painter who was, usually, a little bit monomaniac on a tint. Van Dyck had a palette rich in browns, Hooker was a botanical artist who needed a special pigment for leaves, and Payne was a watercolor artist famous for the quality of his shadows. I really like this kind of colors : they aren't fixed values. They're ideas, a range of colors allowing little variations. Neither Van Dyck nor Paynes made pots and pots of colors marked with a fixed color code. Please don't give them a hex value, just bask in the delight of having an idea of a color. I'm a bit worried about fixing colors in set values. While we need fixed values for printing or design work, colors are like words : they need a little leeway as terms, they need synonyms, etymology, history, and if possible, errors in translation and evolution in time. They need to be a language of sorts.

Hovel near Yalmton, Devon

Here's a watercolor from William Payne (1760 – 1830), via Wikimedia Commons. It's Public Domain, and represents a Hovel near Yalmton, Devon. Payne's grey is the array of blue grays in the background. It was originally a mixture of colors that you could find in a classic watercolor palette of the time. He recommended the use of this color to his students as a replacement for black, probably because it was a deeper and more interesting mix in the grays, and still very dark at a high concentration. Mixing Payne's grey with other colors is a very easy way to darken or desaturate them, explaining why it survived two centuries of very creative artists and is still popular today. You can find it in most big painting brands, especially as a watercolor pigment.

Now , I did some research about the original mix, and couldn't find a definitive recipe. Bruce MacEvoy of Handprint.com describes it as "a mixture of iron blue (PB27), yellow ochre and a crimson lake, used as a dark violet shadow color", Winsor and Newton talks about "a dark blue grey made from a mixture of Ultramarine, Mars Black and sometimes Crimson". Both mixes are consistent with the kind of colors you could find on a 1820 watercolor  palette. It makes it difficult to know which one is the original, but both mixes produce a rich ternary (a ternary color is the mix of 3 primaries) color, a blueish, rich dark gray with hints of an earthy background. 

I did a little more digging, and found the composition of Payne's grey as sold in the 3 watercolor brands I use myself:
-Winsor& Newton : their Payne's grey is a mix of pigments PB15,PBk6,PV19, codes for Phthalocyanine Blue, Carbon Black, Quinacridone Violet. It's a mix of black, green blue, and a bit of magenta red.
-Daniel Smith : their Payne's grey is a mix of pigments PB29 PBk9, codes for Ultramarine Blue and Bone Black. This is just black and a reddish blue.
-Sennelier: their Payne's grey is a mix of PV19 PB15:1 PBk7 , codes for Quinacridone Violet, Phthalocyanine Blue Red Shade,Lamp black. Once again, magenta, a blue, and a black that goes on yellow. 
I found the color codes here Color of Art Pigment Database. All these mixes will give you a dark blue color. It's nice, and ultimately it's close enough, really, to the original color. But it's not what was originally described, a nice balance of red, yellow and mostly blue, and absolutely no black. I think Payne created Payne's grey to avoid black in mixes, so I'm a bit confused.

I wanted to re-create the spirit of the original shade and tried the suggested 3 colors mixes.It was a bit frustrating and I'm not convinced. I needed a faster solution for quick on the go sketches. In a ternary color, there should be no black but the  mix of blue, red and yellow. Note that I don't talk much of primary colors, they're a problem to me because it's, once again, a mathematical approach of colors. Primaries are an interesting concept, but we are mixing pigments,and absolutely pure primary pigments don't exist. Talking about pigments, we are accustomed for centuries to colors like umber, burnt umber, ocher, burnt sienna, ultramarine and cobalt, historical colors, so in the spirit of the search of an antique color, I went there first. 

I mixed old, comfy basics until I could find a match, with no black, and the rich yellow/red undertone I wanted for a lively grey color.

I did this:

I'm quite happy with the burnt umber plus ultra marine dark blue as a mix for a nice, cool gray. There's this moment, while mixing, when a brown isn't exactly a brown anymore but not completely a blue that I find quite exciting. It's really not something you would get with a computer. By mixing burnt umber with ultramarine blue, you get different colors in the granularity. It's much more interesting than mixing black and blue. 

I also made some tests with Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine blue. I find the gradation between both colors rich of possibilities. Beware : my scanner adds a little magenta to the dark colors, and I couldn't really remove it without destroying the luminosity of the picture.

Looking for Payne's grey, I found a large array of similar colors, colors easy to mix, that will enrich my palette instead of getting stuck with a fixed black blue gray.  I dedicated a whole well on my palette to these colors, with dabs of browns and blues that I can liberally mix. It's much more fun. Along the way, I also learned how different blues mix with different browns, all of them interesting and unexpected. Mixing pigments is much more creative than mixing lights (RGB or hex values). The intermediary colors are never quite what you expected. I got some really cool grays by mixing yellow ocher and cobalt blue, when I was expecting greens. I also got some very nice, soft purples out of iron oxide and ultramarine blue. 

What the whole search really taught me was to understand what William Payne was looking for: beautiful, rich colors for backgrounds and shadows.  I think I'm closer to the spirit of the color with my approximative mixes, than a manufactured mix of black and blue can be. 
I did kept my tubes and pans of manufactured Payne's Grey. But I will use them for what they are, a mix of black and blue-red. 

Here's a sketchbook of some sketches I made along the way while looking for Payne's mix. Making the last sketch, especially the trunks and the houses in the background, made me very happy. I could go from warm to cold easily, with just 2 colors on a corner of a well. It was fun and liberating.

Click links in the text for references.

La quiche

(the parts in italic are in French)
You won't , you really won't find me posting recipes usually. My spouse is the king in the kitchen, and I'm an humble consort. But I inherited a classic ( if not historical) quiche recipe from my Maman, and I sometimes venture in the kitchen to try to adapt it to my needs (I'm allergic to wheat) and place : I live in California, where the flour, eggs, and sour cream are very different concepts from France.  Quiche is NOT a diet dish, it isn't vegan, you can make a vegetarian version though, and I will suggest some tasty ideas. It's a happy dish, kind of a savory custard pie, something you can eat for a light diner with a bit of salad. It will often last enough for another meal. It's more time for reading or knitting if you're into that sort of things.


Bon les gars, c'est pas pour me vanter, mais je suis la reine des quiches. Vous pouvez mettre ça sur le fait que je ne sais pas faire grand chose d'autre en cuisine, mais pour les quiches, je ne crains personne. J'ai passé beaucoup, beaucoup de temps à essayer d'adapter la recette de quiche historique de ma Maman à mes problèmes d'allergie ( au blé)  et au fait qu'en Californie  les œufs , la farine et les produits laitiers sont vraiment différents! Mais j'ai trouvé une recette qui vaut le coup d'être partagée, enfin! Je vous la livre en Anglais, pour les expats, c'est vraiment une recette adaptée pour les USA. Vous trouverez les proportions en Francais dans la photo au besoin:


First of all, get a scale. I tried to get used to the cup system, but it's not...tadaaah...my cup of tea. A bit too imprecise for my taste. So please, bear with me and grab one of those kitchen scales that let you use your mixing dish as a tare.

Here's the recipe:

First make the pie crust, you'll need:

  • 200gr/ 7oz all purpose flour ( I Use Bob's Red Mill, Pie Crust, Gluten Free, it doesn't taste sandy like most gluten free flours)
  • 80gr/ 2.8 oz  butter,  70% of a stick of butter, lightly salted
  • an egg ( classic French quiche doesn't call for the egg. It's here to balance the lack of elasticity of American flour, AND it makes the pie crust amiably crunchy)
  • a bit of icy water.

If you're lazy, you can get a ready made pie crust. It's depressing and often full of preservatives, but fast.

Anyway: I don't own a mixing machine. Actually, we own one, but by the time I manage to find it, wash it...I could as well do the crust and be finished. Do use your own if you're more organized than me.

So, at this point, I weight the butter in a microwavable bowl, then make it melt in the microwave (it's done in less than a minute) . I put my big mixing bowl on the kitchen scale, tare it, then weight the flour. Off the scale, I add the butter and mix well, then add an egg, mix again. If the blend is crumbly, I add a bit of water, drip by drip, and mix until the dough is nice and elastic. If you put too much water and it becomes sticky, just add a little flour.  When the dough is just like play dough ( a bit more supple), it's ok. Chill it in the fridge until ready to use.  Important: Preheat the oven at 375º F 


For the filling, you'll need:

  • 3 yolks and 1 full egg, wipped until foamy (you can do that with a fork, no big deal) 
  • 250gr/8.5 oz/1 cup sour cream. The French recipe calls often for milk and/or creme fraiche. Sour cream is fine, as long as you don't add cheese. Some French recipes allow for gruyeres cheese, but the historical version, a dish from the French region of Lorraine, doesn't allow for Swiss cheese, and I stick to it. I find it much more tasty like that actually, try it!
  • 150gr/5 ounces beacon.  (Enough to cover the bottom of the pie ) and the same amount of cured ham. The French recipe calls for lardons, impossible to find here in the USA. Bacon and ham make a nice substitute, and anyway, anything is better with bacon. 
  • for a vegetarian version : 300gr/10 ounces of veggies, diced if necessary. Green peas are delicious in a quiche, but anything will do. Spinach needs to be pre-cooked as it gives a lot of water and a soggy quiche is not appetizing at all. For this veggie version,  add a little shallot, and a lot of taragon (a tea spoon) to the egg mix. Veggies only make for a sad pie, don't skip the herbs.

Get the dough from the fridge, roll it on a floured , extra clean surface. Make a circle surface and put it in a buttered pie pan. I'm really bad at this so I always end up cutting bits that I join in the buttered pan. Make a nice, high edge. 

Cut the bacon in squares, cook it in a pan until crisp, dry it on a paper towel to remove the grease. Cut the ham in tiny squares too. Put ham and bacon over the crust. 

OR : put the veggies instead. I often make two quiches at the same time, one meat, one veggies. 

Mix the cream and the eggs, add the herbs but only on the veggie version. Pour over the meat/veggies cautiously. Put it immediately in the oven. Cook for half an hour or until light brown. 

Serve it hot or cold, cold is delicious too, with a crispy green salad, made with a simple French vinaigrette (2 parts oil, 1 part wine vinegar, a touch of mustard, salt, herbs to the taste) . The quiche and salad is a classic  family dinner in France. Pack the rest in a brown bag for an unexpected lunch!


A tout seigneur tout honneur  : je dois à mon amie Estelle Tracy, du blog le Hamburger et le Croissant, de ne pas avoir complètement, ni perdu mes racines culinaires en 12 ans ici, ni désespéré en essayant d'utiliser les produits locaux. Je lui dédie bien volontiers ce post, et vous engage , si vous demenagez ici, à vous procurer son Guide de Survie Alimentaire aux Etats Unis, une mine d'idées et de bons conseils pour les expats. Merci Estelle!





A post, at last!

I finally came round to write again here. This blog tends to take a straight line to illustration stuff, and thing is : I don't do illustration books these days. Art direction linked with illustrations, yes, but books take a lot of time for very little enjoyment. I'd rather do more research, be more challenged. So I switched last year to art direction...I'll talk about it here. And less illustration, even if I will continue to do some. On top of that, I began to paint last year- eleven months ago actually. I chose watercolor because I felt that it will take me a full life to master it. It is really quite difficult, but once again, I needed the challenge. This old dog needs to learn new tricks or she's miserable!

©Delphine Doreau 2017

So last year I did art direction for several companies, painted, made movies, logos , watercolors...It really was a fun year, but I had a hard time making it fit in the format of my website. 

But I realized that, hey! It's fun. So I should share it. So from now on, expect all and everything from this blog. Today let's celebrate watercolor, and tomorrow, I might post about exactly anything.  How about cooking, or making movies?

©Delphine Doreau 2016

©Delphine Doreau 2016

This painting I made from a photo that my friend Angel sent me from paris, France. It's the Luxembourg, a parc in Paris, my favorite actually. I really tried to get the autumn ambiance here, the same as the one 20 years ago when I was on this exact trail, walking to art school. I painted the watercolor, scanned it in high resolution, and touched up the colors  to make it perfect. You can buy it here at society6 , and I encourage you to do it : all the money I make from my prints these days will be used to buy a print for my friend who sent me the photo (and if I make more, to buy more watercolor paint). 

Et bonne année!

I wish you all a peaceful new year!

Ce matin les garçons ont fait la grasse mat', et moi je me suis levée pour trouver tout un petit monde bien éveillé devant ma fenêtre: 

Les Roselins du Mexique ont gagné haut la main le seul usage de la mangeoire, mais les moineaux en profitent dans les buisson. Ce voleur de Grumpy, le seul écureuil du coin qui est bien trop grognon pour être timide, et fait tout ce qu'il peut pour accéder aux graines. Il a fait un foin pas possible, mais a fini par comprendre, qu'il saute ou danse, la mangeoire est inaccessible. Ben oui mon gars, c'est une mangeoire à oiseaux, pas à rongeurs, surtout que depuis que mon andouille de voisin a transformé son jardin en désert, il n'y a plus ni mouffette ni racoon pour chasser les rats, ils sont à la fête. Les animaux sont les bienvenus dans mon jardin...sauf les rats et les corbeaux que je chasse sans aucune pitié , na!

Le petit paysage à droite est ce que je vois de mon bureau. Je me rends très bien compte de la chance que j’ai d’avoir sous le nez un petit parc très vert, et j’en profite bien. D’autres dans mon village ont vue sur la mer, mais je préfère, du moins pour la vue, le vert au bleu!

Je vous souhaite une année 2017 douce et calme !

Joyeux Noël

I'm working on more paper toys, but today I'm having video fun. Happy holidays!

You can use the share button
Or this URL :
To wish happy Holidays to your friends on Facebook!

(no commercial use, thanks)

Please credit me, the music and special effects if you can ( they're in the Vimeo page anyway)
Director : Delphine Doreau
Music : http://www.purple-planet.com
Snow effect : http://www.beachfrontbroll.com

The tiny house nº1 was painted by my son and you can find the printable here:

The tiny house nº2 you'll find here:

Copyright Delphine Doreau 2016,all rights reserved, no commercial use. 

The little folk house


Watercolor house, as promised! I mixed and modified models of past Christmases for this mini house . Use it as a cute gift box for a little present, as an ornament, or just make it because it's a lovely little thing. 

There's two on the page and the little bird is mirrored to make a set of ornaments. I'm thinking of filling it with play-doh and see if it's heavy enough for a set of book holders. 


Click on the picture to download the printable  

Click on the picture to download the printable  


Color your ornament

Last year I made delightful little houses ornaments, just big enough to tuck in a little flameless light . You can find them here : my little houses , and if you look in this category of my blog, there's even more : little houses on Delphine's blog.

I was thinking of doing a watercolor version, and I did, but you'll get it later...if you ask for it in the comments. There's little to nothing as comments on this blog this day, and while I'm quite OK with it, sometimes I would be happy with a little feedback from you guys! I see here and there that people still do, print, enjoy my paper toys and illustrations, and sales tell me, too, that you like my stuff but it will help me to know more. So, hello, how have you been? Do you like red, green or blue this winter?

Anyway. I started to make a watercolor version, it was a bit late in the day and my big adorable boy came back for school with his best friend. I suggested to do it together. I usually lose against Minecraft, but this time when I talked about building ornaments they were really interested. 


So we printed some white ones and they colored them, and they were really into it, and proud of themselves when it was done! We printed more so Best Friend could bring them home, and a bigger one for his little sister, to make it more easy to color. I really, really liked that an 8 years old boy was able to suggest technical improvements for a 3 years old. It's lovely, don't you think?

I suggest printing on sturdy paper, for exemple 80lb ( 120gsm), what they call "cover" paper for printers. The ornaments will last years like that, if stored properly. It's easier to cut out and color, too. I still have ornaments made 7 or 8 years ago from good, strong paper, but the ones I made on regular paper last year look a bit tired today. 
My favorite boys did this, I hope yours will have a lot of fun too!


So here we are, click on the picture to print 2 little houses and a big one for your little sister, as we did.

Un très bonne idée de cadeau

ON est le 14, et tu n'as toujours pas idée de cadeau pour tes neveux ? J'ai l'idée du siècle: les almaniak Delphine Doreau 2017.

Ce sont des calendriers, épais comme le bottin, en bon papier, avec un jouet à monter par jour. Le tout testé et joué par mon fils et ses amis. 

J'en ai un pour les enfants qui aiment les voitures ( et qui ont le sens de l'humour):
 Almaniak 2017 Maquettes de voitures

Et j'en ai un autre pour les enfants qui aiment les maisons de poupées!  Les petits meubles ont fait ma joie pour décorer mon bureau cette année.
Almaniak 2017 Ma maison de poupées
vous y trouverez un meuble, ou des personnages trop mignons, ou une déco par jour. De quoi meubler 3/4 maisons en fait, avec des palettes inspirées de vraies décos. Un enchantement.
L'échelle est a peu près celle des personnages Sylvanians ou Playmobide , c'est fait exprès.

Il y a même toute une salle de classe avec les petits élèves, une chambre complete de bébé...et des bibliothèques à mettre partout, et surtout dans le joli bureau que j'ai crée aussi, parce qu'il faut pas pousser, y'a pas que la dinette dans la vie. Le tout très très chou et très pensé.

Pour des enfants d'âge scolaire...Offrez aussi la colle et les ciseaux ;)
Pour la colle j'aime bien celle en dévidoir/rouleau, pas besoin d'attendre que ça sèche, Tombow en fait de la rechargeable. Pour les ciseaux, des bouts ronds, c'est mieux!
Demain on fait des maisons, et après-demain si vous êtes sages je vous prêterais peut-être un jouet ou deux pour essayer? Des bises!

A watercolor ornament


As you probably have noticed , I've been practicing watercolor since March. You maybe also know that I'm a fan of paper toys for the holidays... I had to try a watercolor ornament !
I printed the outlines of my favorite ( find the original here) and  over it, and then photoshopped the result. I like it very much, very romantic, right? I might make more version of my paper toys in watercolor, I really like the result. I made two different ones, you can download them at the end of the post.

Évidemment, après m'être remise à l'aquarelle, c'était seulement une question de temps avant que j'essaie d'intégrer le médium à mes jouets en papier! Ce n'est pas forcément l'idée la plus simple parce qu'il faut imprimer le modèle sur du papier aquarelle sans dérailler l'imprimante...et trouver le moyen de peindre sans diluer l'encre d'impression, qui évidement se dilue à l'eau. Mais c'est pas ça qui va nous arrêter hein? J'aime bien le résultat , sûrement je vais réessayer, qui est partant pour un Noel à l'aquarelle ?   

Click to download the printable .  

Click to download the printable .  

Make your own stickers! (plus printable)

Yesterday I show you how to make your own stamps, today where will see how to make stickers out of them. It's quite simple really, You just have to print them on "full sheet tag paper" or "sticker paper". The hard part is actually to FIND the paper. 

I wanted cream colored, recycled, acid free paper for high quality stickers, and the only one I could find is NEENAH CLASSIC CREST Classic Natural White Labels . It's sold by pack of a hundred sheets. It's quite nice if, like me , you intend to craft dozens of DIY out of it, but other wise you might want to look for  cheaper "full sheet labels", "label paper", "sticker paper"...this sort of thing . It comes in all prices , make sure you check the number of sheets you buy.

So. You print your stamps on the sticker paper. Try to make nice little lines for a little trick I'll explain you later. 

OR. If you don't care about making your own stamps, really don't have the time, or feel a bit lazy today ( which is just fine, lazy days are good days) ...Just print my sheets of stickers on sticker paper! Here its is:

But, WAIT! Before printing:

-make a little print test with cheaper paper. Make a mark on a sheet of paper, feed it through the printer, making note if the mark is on top or on the back of the paper, print, and check if the mark is on the printed side or not...You definitely don't want to print your stickers on the wrong side of the sticker paper.
- check that your printer can handle thicker paper. Mine ( and several other printers I owned) have a "thick paper and envelopes" option. Look for it in the system preferences/printer options of your printer, or on the dialog box on the printer itself. 

If your printer can't handle the thicker paper, I recommend to either :
1. Make your own stamps (find the tutorial here) and print them on sticker paper.
2. Or print on normal paper and buy a sticker machine. I have a litte Xyron one(that you can buy here for less than $10. Make sure to follow the instructions. I use it to print stickers on washi paper, very chic!

Once printed, star to cut out your stickers, living a nice fat white line around the sticker. I have a little trick. Separating the sticker from the back paper can be a bit tricky, so I get my OLFA  topsheet cutter and make a slit ONLY in the backing paper.

stickers010 - 1.JPG

Zip, in the back. I found myself a bit silly to buy such a specialized tool, but I reach for it all the time. So yes, a little slit in the back like that the back paper separates in two when you bend it a little :

Don't even try with a normal utility knife. I managed to do it right once or twice until I ruined a whole line of stickers.

Another cute trick : for these, I printed my stamps with Tsukineko  StazOn ink  ...on masking tape! I love this little ones.


So? All set? Yes! Aren't these the cutest?

Tomorrow I'll give you some news, but in two days I'll give you ideas on how to pack and use your cute stickers!


Make your own stamps! (Comment faire des tampons à encrer)

I have been doing cute little stickers out of my favorite stamps, and it's amazing how many uses you can find for these cuties. In the next posts I will provide tutorials...and cheat sheets, so you can do your own!

©Delphine Doreau 2016 . All rights reserved.

©Delphine Doreau 2016 . All rights reserved.

J'ai commencé il ya quelques temps à faire de petits stickers avec les tampons que je grave. C'est fou le nombre de jolies choses qu'on peut faire avec, donc pour commencer cette période de l'Avent, je vais vous expliquer comment les faire. On commence par les tampons, et pour celles qui n'ont pas le temps, revenez demain pour trouver des planches imprimables!

Use these as templates for your stamps.

First of all, let's make the stamps ! ( for the ones who don't feel like doing stamps, I will provide printable sticker sheets tomorrow)

Il vous faudra , au moins :


  1. De la gomme à graver, de la marque japonaise Seed si vous pouvez trouver, sinon Speedball n'est pas trop cher et pas trop frustrant.
  2. Un outil précis genre X-Acto, avec des lames neuves,
  3. Une brosse pour nettoyer les tampons,
  4. Un tampon encreur. Si vous n'avez pas de tampon encreur, des feutres à l'eau feront l'affaire.
  5. Du calque
  6. Un crayon très gras
  7. Un cutter ou un couteau pour découper les blocs ( attention les doigts)
  8. Une gouge pour les grandes zones. Un outil speedball fera très bien l'affaire. 

You will need, at the minimum :

  1. A craft knife , for exemple X-Acto, with a new, sharp blade. 
  2. An engraving block. I really like the Japanese brand Seed , but if you can't find it, Speedball is just fine.
  3. A brush to dust your stamps.
  4. An ink pad. If you don't have one, you can try water based magic markers.
  5. Some velum.
  6. A very soft pencil (4B is nice).
  7. A bigger craft knif, or a sharp knife, to cut the blocks. Make sure you don't hurt yourself in this step.
  8. A gouge for larger chunks. A speedball tool will be just fine. 

On continue demain!! See you tomorrow for more!