Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Using a Limited Palette

I am one for whom the term ‘limited pallete’ was surely invented. I have, for a long time, been advocating a limited range of color in watercolor painting. However I often wonder if in limiting color I am limiting myself?

First though let me explain why in my watercolors I initially started to experiment with such a range of color. I was finding that my paintings were looking very ‘wishy washy’ that is to say, the tonal range was too narrow, and the color range too wide! This led to paintings that never looked the way I wanted them too. I admired the paintings of Turner and others who made the light the central theme in their paintings, and I noticed that their range of color was very carefully controlled, with subtle variations. I also came to realise that to achieve this I had to go back to basics.

In many Art books I had read the authors would often discuss using limited color range, but quickly move on to more colors. I made a conscious decision to stay on a limited range from now on, at lest until I had achieved the subtlety I sought.

To this end I adopted the main pallete I now use in my painting. These colors are-

Ultramarine Blue

Burnt Umber

Yellow Ochre

Cadmium Yellow (Hue)

Alizarian Crimson

Sap Green

To this I sometimes add white Goache (opaque white) in limited amount for some details.

I find that this is the main pallete I use for landscape. I do sometimes add others to this in special circumstances, but currently this is not very often. I encourage you, if you like the range and tone of my type of painting, to adopt these yourself.

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