Starting out with that first box of 8 crayons was quite fun but oh! when I got my first box of 64 I was ecstatic! And then there was more!
So when I hear of artists using a limited palette I ask, why?
Anders Zorn used yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion and titanium white. That’s it! And he produced brilliant masterpieces.
Many artists choose a palette that includes warm and cool primaries, red, blue, and yellow, plus white. Scott Christensen uses just red, blue and yellow with some grays as values to modify color and tone. Carol Marine adds burnt umber to her primaries. Kathleen Dunphy includes Naples Yellow Deep and a gray.
A limited palette has many advantages. If you are a Plein air painter (painting outdoors) you have less to carry. Also when you mix all your colors from these limited colors you should be able to create harmony in your work.
On the flip side there are artists such as Karin Jurik who love, love, love color and with maybe 80 colors in her studio, puts out probably 45 or more on her palette—a pizza pan. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAIs1S_zAMI) Having so many to choose from can make you lazy. But Karin mixes every paint she uses.
As I read about artists whose work I admire I like to buy a color or two that they mention as their favorite or a color they find highly useful. So although I basically work with a split primary palette (warm and cool) plus white, I have collected indeed my box of 64 and more!
Here is my latest piece, “On the Road Again”, 10×20” oil on canvas.
One thought on “So Many Colors”
Hi Andrea, I always enjoy your running commentary about artists and art. I struggle with the question of color all the time … I like color and tend to want to go there and then wonder how much is enough or too much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Diana
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