Monday, August 17, 2009

Your Palette, Your Way

Some time ago, I posted a short blurb about my favorite color palette: Cad Lemon, Cad Yellow Medium, Cad Red Medium, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, and Titanium White. This is the palette I used a week ago Saturday for this square painting of a little tree out at Miami Whitewater Forest. As always, I was able to achieve a wide range of greens without using any tubed greens that harmonize nicely because they all share a common color, Ultramarine Blue.

But during the week, my best friend and painting teacher, Tina Tammaro, introduced me to another possibility built around the modern color of Phthalo Blue. I have always avoided this color because it's so bright and looked garish when mixed with the other colors on my usual palette. But Tina's been experimenting with a whole different palette of Yellow Ochre, Cad Orange, Indian Red, Phthalo Blue, and Titanium White. What she's discovered, and I think this horizontal painting I did yesterday along the Ohio River illustrates her point, is that you can mix natural looking colors that have a slightly richer feel to them with this palette. We think it's because the dull colors (the Ochre and Indian Red) calm down the Phthalo Blue while allowing it to retain a robust look. I should add that I actually incorporated a little Cad Yellow and Alizarin as well to make the sunlit greens and atmospheric, hazy purples. 

As with so many things in art, there isn't one "right way" to do things. It's all a matter of preference. I'm just throwing these two possibilities out there for you to try. In both cases, the fairly limited palettes helped to retain color harmony. I just think the Phthalo palette looks a little richer and more contemporary than the Ultramarine palette. I think I'm a convert! Tell me what you think if you try these colors.


  1. I am making notes to try the palette that includes Pthalo Blue. It sounds like a winner.

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