The Limited Palette in all its glory

art, Art, Art, Watercolor, Watercolor Art, watercolor

My printer has three color cartridges and a black cartridge. With a blue, red and yellow and black my printer can approximate every color I choose to print. The printer depends on programming. I depend on practice. With Cobalt blue, Alizarin Crimson and Aureolin Yellow you can can mix anything you need. You can if you wish add Burnt Sienna to the palette but the fact is you can make burnt sienna from the three colors I have listed.

By mixing your colors yourself – your greens and purples your browns and grays will be something much more interesting than anything that you can squeeze out of a tube. As watercolor dries (which is 1/3 lighter than when it is wet) the mixed colors separate just a tiny bit and the result is astounding.

It it is worth any artist’s time to make a color chart, mixing and labeling the colors and their components. I kept a color chart I made by my easel for years so I could refer to it when I needed to find a color quickly. Pre-made color charts from paint companies don’t represent what your hand is able to do – your particular touch. Better to practice yourself to cement the information in your mind for later when you are painting.

The resulting painting when it is rendered from a limited palette holds together very well. The secondary and tertiary colors are related through their parent colors and the relationship enhances everything.

If you decide to add a new blue or yellow or red to your palette you will need to make a new color chart – mixing it with all the other colors you have to learn what it is capable of. Some colors like Cerulean blue are opaque and do not contribute well to mixes for green and are finicky in purple. Cerulean Blue put down pure and then layered with Burnt Sienna forms a beautiful granulation texture that is useful and also needs to be practiced.

You can save money with a limited palette. You can buy large tubes of paint in the primaries you like to use. It is easy to pack for travel and it is great exercise for the brain. Your painting will improve dramatically because the limited palette will hold it together.

The painting I featured with the post is painted with the 3 blues, one red, two yellows and burnt sienna that I have worked with for 30 years! Happy painting!