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Thoughts On Using A Limited Palette

Former Palette Colors

Cad Yellow Light

Cad Yellow Medium
Ultramarine Blue
Alizarin Crimson
Cad Red Light
Cadmium orange
Viridian Green
Yellow Ochre

Ice Blue (Richeson)
Burnt Sienna
Naples Yellow
Naples Reddish Yellow (Lukas)
St. Remy Blue (Charvin)
Flesh Color (Lucas)
Beige (Lucas)
Titanium Buff on occasion

Soft Mixing White (Winston)

 

 

Limited Palette Colors

 

Cadmium Yellow Lemon (Gamblin)

Permanent Red Medium (Rembrandt)

Ultramarine Blue Deep (Rembrandt)

Naples Yellow Deep (Rembrandt)

Cold Mixing Gray (Rembrandt)

Titanium White  (Any brand)

 


Well, it has been a month of the limited palette and I haven't given up on it yet I do have a few thoughts to share. Surprisingly, I only missed a few specific colors. While I could make a warm brown using the three primaries in my limited palette, it didn't seem to have the vibrancy of burnt sienna that I really enjoy using in some of the shadowed areas of the animals I paint. It seems to be perfect as it is dark enough and also suggests the warmth of a living being. I lasted about a week using the titanium white and returned to Winston's soft mixing white. I paint many animals with white fur and it is the perfect consistency for this artist. I was shocked that I could last without alizarin crimson as it has been a staple on my palette for over twenty years! I found that I was able to mix something similar using the Rembrandt red medium and ultramarine blue deep. All greens were made using the primaries and at times white and Naples yellow deep. Warmer reds can be made using the red and yellow or red and Naples yellow. They are less intense than cadmium orange but I liked them and in relation to all the other colors were lovely. Flesh, titanium buff, and beige can all be mixed. Yellow ochre is pretty easy to make using the yellow with a little blue too. For skies and water, I would use a little viridian and ultramarine blue with white in my old palette but found that ultramarine deep with white worked for skies and a little lemon yellow added to ultramarine sufficed for the water and a little white in places. The ice blue on my former palette was a light gray but I just mixed gray using ultramarine blue, orange that I had mixed and white. Much more on the blue and white to create gray. So, will I stick with it? The jury is still out and I will continue working with this palette until at least all the tubes are gone because it is challenging and I believe it is a great learning experience and teaching tool. One of the reasons, I chose to do this was to explore mixing grays and I have only scratched the surface on this. I highly recommend trying this especially if you are new to color and mixing paint. Getting your values correct is so important and limiting your palette really does simplify the process and allows you to focus your energies there. In another month or so, I will let you know if I have added any colors back on my palette. If you have tried the limed palette, I'l love to hear from you in the comments!

Here is one of my favorite pieces that has sold and was painted using the limited palette. As I said in the last post, I prime my canvas with cadmium red light acrylic so that does show in many of my paintings. I experimented with using cadmium yellow medium acrylic as Kathleen Dunphy uses but am still partial to the red. :-)


http://www.normasdailypaintings.blogspot.com
https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart


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"Dining Out"

8" by 10" oil on canvas

Avaiable through auction here

 

 

 


For months now I have been toying with the idea of trying a limited palette. A visit to artist Kathleen Dunphy's website and reading her blog post on her limited palette planted the seed. I have limited my palette in the past and returned to my twelve to fifteen colors pretty quickly. Why did this keep cropping up in my thoughts? Her work is so beautiful and her use of grayed colors so compelling. Her palette leaves out several of my favorite and most used colors such as alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow medium. Would I be able to adapt and survive without these colors? Her argument for trying it sure sounded convincing. AND I do love a challenge! So, I ordered the colors and took the leap!

 

Benefits of a Limited Palette

 

Benefits of Limited Palette

-Save money $$$ 

  Let's face it. Paints are expensive. Instead of buying every delightful sounding color that grabs your eye, you can stock up on the basic colors and use more paint!

  Oh no! Does this mean I won't be using my St. Remy Blue? The jury is still out on that one. 

-Color harmony is easier to achieve when your basic primary colors are used to create

  your secondary and tertiary colors.

-Faster way to paint. No need to search around to find more of the colors you need when there are only a few. 

-Forces you to think about value (the relative lightness and darkness in your subject)

-Thinking about warm and cool temperature of colors rather than adding more color.

-Less to take along on painting trips and outings. 

-Less clutter in your studio. Less clutter definitely means more peace and creative flow.

-Simplified thought process! This is huge for me! Limit the distractions please!

 

 

Chosen Palette

 

These are her colors and more information can be found on her blog under limited palette. These brands are important as color varies so much between brands which can be maddening but true. I have always liked Rembrandt paints and find them to be a nice consistency and color saturation. Kathleen does a lot of landscapes and is known for her Plein air work in beautiful California. But she also does wonderful still life and animals as well. Since animals are my passion, I was hooked. The piece above is my first sampling of working in this palette below. I do add an acrylic under painting in cadmium red light which peeks through. I learned that she uses cadmium yellow medium in acrylic as a wash for her underpainting.

 

Lemon yellow Gamblin or Utrecht

Permanent Red Medium (Rembrandt)

Ultramarine Blue Deep (Rembrandt)

Naples Yellow Dark (Rembrandt)

Cold Gray (Rembrandt)

Titanium White (Any brand)

 

Other artists who have used a limited palette. 

 

Anders Zorn, a famous Swedish artist who painted portraits of three American presidents, Taft, Cleveland, and Roosevelt. He was known for his very limited palette of four colors. His painting, Ols Maria, shows the amazing versatility of his palette. So many limited palettes to try now! :-) Ok, I may have to refer to the last benefit of simplified thought process here. First things first.  Zorn's Palette worked because the black leaned towards blue giving him green when he added yellow ochre and he achieved beautiful skin tones using these colors. We all learned in school that the three primaries, red, blue, and yellow make the other colors. Add in a little white and you can creat all kinds of colors. 

 

Vermillion

Yellow Ochre

White

Black

 

 

 

 

Monet, whose masterful use of color can not be surpassed in my opinion, used a pretty limited palette. Pretty hard not to try this master's palette! Here is one of his many delightful pieces, Tulips In A Field. 

 

 

Cad yellow Lt.

Cad yellow med.

Cad red Lt.

Aliz Permanent

Ultra Blue

Cerulean Blue

Ivory Black

Flake White

 

* Note that flake white is what was used by the masters and contains lead. Many modern artists use titanium white as the alternative but Flake white is still available as well as a flake white alternative. This is a whole other topic worth investigating. Yikes. Just when you were seeking simplicity. 

 

 

 

 

What do I hope to gain?

 

 

 

My goal in adopting this challenge is to stretch and grow as an artist. To strengthen my skills in mixing paint, to better see value shifts and temperature and to SIMPLIFY my work area. Probably the biggest motivator is to see if I can do it. Can I replace my tried and true colors and still create a painting I am happy about. This weekend, I purged paints, old brushes, old reference photos, and all sorts of unused items that were taking up space and causing psychic overload. It feels great and prepared me even more to focus on this challenge.  It has only been a week, and I can already feel improved focus and learning. This can only strengthen my skills as an artist and teacher as well. Have there been frustrations? Oh yes! I miss alizarin crimson and burnt sienna. :-) Time will tell if I will permanently adopt this palette but like I said. I LOVE a good challenge and encourage you to try a limited palette too! If you have tried to stick to a few colors or would like to try this challenge with me, please let me know in the comments.

 

Perhaps I will discover that I miss my old palette but I do believe we have to try new possibilities and change things up to stay fresh. 

 

I will give more feedback on my palette in a later blog post. To make sure you don't miss it, I encourage you to follow my blog and to sign up for my newsletter.

 

 

 

References:

http://www.swintonsart.com/index.php/blog-articles/item/benefits-of-painting-with-a-limited-palette

Http://www.kathleendunphy.com/blog/limited palette 

 

 

 

 

 


http://www.normasdailypaintings.blogspot.com
https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart


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It has been more than a year since my last blog post. Sounds like I am in confession for those of you raised in the Catholic tradition. Well it sort of is.....a way to seque into the blogosphere again. :-) I didn't intend to be gone so long but I think I needed a break. Not from painting. Not at all. The past decade has seen many changes in my world. Three moves. One to the Oceanfront of Virginia Beach. Then down to city life in Norfolk. And back home to my home in Chesapeake where I raised my three sons. The moves where fun and a bit crazy but I got it out of my system and realized, the best place was where I started. In the last decade, I have taught classes, group and private, sold through gallleres, online, returned to eBay to auction smaller pieces, and dabbled in quick videos on Instagram and Facebook. Still trying to fine tune my focus. Lol. Through it all, one things stands out. I am an artist who LOVES TO PAINT. I love to paint animals most. All kinds, farm animals, wildlife, and pets! I even do a little pet sitting on the side. They speak to my soul so they are a joy to paint. You will also find still life, seascapes, and the occasional landscape to shake things up. I am especially drawn to the way light affects the subject, creating great drama or a soft mood. In today's painting, I love how this sweet cow is backlit and the light dances around the edges and her face is mostly colorful grays. So I am back to share my art and thoughts and more of this artists journey. While I have come home to the place where this online art journey began, I feel more changes are coming. I want to go deeper with my teaching and painting and hope to share where this takes me. I'll be trying Kathleen Dunphy's limited five color palette starting next week and will share my experiences! Have a wonderful day! Hope you will forgive me for being gone so long. :-))))

https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart
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This piece is available through auction at https://www.ebay.com/itm/132768356680. Thank you in advance for your bids!

https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart
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This painting is available at auction on eBay and can be found here. https://www.ebay.com/itm/132761413699 Thank you in advance for your bids!

https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart
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This painting is available through auction at https://www.ebay.com/itm/132736815002. Thank you for your bids?

https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart
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One day this week, I became aware that I had become absolutely transfixed by the light coming in my breakfast nook and was filled with gratitude. I love my home where I returned a year ago after six years in gypsy mode. :-) My backyard is filled with birds, hawks, ducks, geese in the lake, blue heron, rabbits, along with squirrels and the occasion snake. :-( The light on the lake glistens in late afternoon and I am in heaven. I love checking my growing garden out front each day for new growth and seeing how happy my girl Bailee is to be able to look out the front door and romp in her backyard. At age fourteen, she is like a puppy again. Teaching inspires me greatly as I see other artists grow and find joy in deepening their own creativity. Painting each day and finding new collectors as well as getting to know them, continually inspires me to show up at my easel each day to put paint on canvas. What inspires you and brings joy to your life? I'd love to hear from you in a comment!

https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart
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This cow appeared almost in a flash once I set about to paint her and was a pure delight. I do love the cows! It has been my favorite subject for more than ten years now. I try to analyze the why of it but ?tis a mystery! Perhaps it is in my Irish DNA to love these big dairy cows that dot the landscape of my mother's homeland. This gal looks deep in thought and or perhaps it is a connection I see to all that is and a connection to the here and now. Hoping your day is a peaceful and joy fulled one! Thanks for stopping by!

https://www.ebay.com/str/normawilsonfineart
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