Friday, August 31, 2012


CREEK FLOW   11x14   oil on canvas panel
Not that anyone has asked, but hey, it's my blog, I thought I'd tell you my palette color choices.  Some painters like to take out a couple of dozen different tube colors, some only three primaries and white, and some choose something in between.  I'm an "in-betweener".

In the past years, I've tried the limited, three primary color palette, and it was a great experiment for learning about mixing hues to achieve a broad spectrum of colors and how to vary color temperature.  It also somewhat assures a harmonic color scheme, due to the repetition of the same hues. Only thing is the limited palette is just that, limited.  Expressively, you can't reach certain color notes you'd like to have.  You must settle for the closest approximation within the available gamut of your chosen primaries.  On the other hand carrying around a large range of colors affords you all kinds of color choices, but it's both cumbersome, and increases the likelihood of producing whacky dissonance.

So, here's my personal solution.  Nine tube colors, total.  Cadmium Lemon Yellow (a bright, cool, powerful yellow),  Terra Rosa (a moderate red that's a bit cool when white is added.  It's a real workhorse in beautifully modifying all the other colors in my landscape palette.  I never have found much need for the high-powered cadmium reds in landscapes).  Permanent Alizarin ( a very cool, dark red, also useful in many mixtures).  Ultramarine Blue (wouldn't want to do without it).  Viridian Hue (regular Viridian is beautiful and useful, but lacks the punch I want in influencing mixtures.  Viridian Hue, like all the so-called "hue" colors, contains thalo blue or green, both of which will easily take over your mixtures if you're not extremely careful).  To these five spectrum colors I add three modifiers, Burnt Umber, Mauve Blue Shade, and Caucasian Flesh.  These enable me to quickly achieve subtle hue movement in mixtures that are well suited to the landscape.  For white, my favorite is LeFranc Titanium.  It has just the right creamy consistency for easy handling and it's very opaque.  Second choice is any of the combination titanium/zinc whites, because they're not as "stiff" as many of the straight titanium whites.

If you're an experimenter, I think you'll enjoy the range of beautifully harmonious colors you can produce with this palette, plus the convenience of not having to tote so much paint.  As an added plus, with the exception of Cadmium Yellow Lemon, these are very reasonably priced pigments.  Have you looked at the price of Cobalt or Cerulean Blue?!  Wow!  That stuff will run up your supply expenditure fast.    

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