My basics are Payne’s Gray, Titanium White, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Hooker’s Green (acrylic) or Terre Verte (oil), Cobalt Blue and Yellow Ochre.
I really can’t do without these heroes.
All my paintings start with a Burnt Umber sketch, and some stay that way. But if it’s just an undercoat, I block in the shadows, get the tonal range sorted, rough out figures or skin tone or the textured surface of tree bark or rocks, and imply atmospheric perspective with a few tinted washes.
It’s not a big range but these basics provide tonal cohesion, with other colours added to the palette as required.
And if I’ve neglected their care, and the lids have got stuck, they are very forgiving of the ridged toothy grip on my trusty FatMax pliers.