View Full Version : Three colour palette - Cerulean, Ochre, Violet

11-29-2004, 02:45 AM
I've just been reading 'Travels with Watercolour' by Lucy Willis, whose painting I much admire. Much of the time, she says, she uses just three colours, Cerulean Blue, Windsor (Dioxizine) Violet and Yellow Ochre.

Curious, I tried it out, and managed to produce a surprising range of colours -- every kind of neutral including nice bronzes and russets, lovely clear blues and some good, though muted greens. I also managed a fairly credible copy of one of the paintings reproduced in the book -- a Greek olive grove -- with just the three colours.

What it doesn't have is red, so you would need a tube of red (?permanant rose) in your back pocket for sudden emergencies -- like an outbreak of bourganvillea, or the arrival of a London bus. And the greens were fine when I was experimenting, in late summer and autumn, but wouldn't work for the sharp, sappy greens of early spring.

Lucy Willis herself paints a lot in hot, dry countries -- southern Europe, Morocco, Yemen and North India -- where sappy greens are not a problem. Her website is at http://www.lucywillis.com if anyone wants to look

11-29-2004, 03:41 AM
She's a fabulous painter, and I didn't know anything about that palette. I've noticed many of her pictures are limited palette, but overall I've seen lots of color in her work. Thanks for mentioning that, it sounds worth trying out.

11-29-2004, 09:00 AM
Thanks for sharing this site. :)


11-30-2004, 06:46 AM
Thanks for sharing this site with us. I really enjoyed looking at her architectural paintings a lot. She really likes to capture sunlight which is so vibrant in the part of the world she paints so well. I did notice in one painting she has a figure of a woman wearing bright orange and red so she must have a tube of red tucked in her pocket for emergencies as you said. LOL!

Interesting triad of colors. Maybe I'll play with it a little bit too as you did just to see what I come up with.


11-30-2004, 08:36 PM
She is one of my favorite artist! I love her work.

11-30-2004, 09:31 PM
Thanks for sharing this little tidbit... Her website is filled with beautiful artwork, for sure!!!

I couldn't be without red... :evil:

11-30-2004, 10:15 PM
Judi Betts uses a similar "Desert" palette sometimes, this is cerulean blue, yellow ochre and indian red, (all W-N I believe). Well, I have painted a lot with the "printers" palette, Magenta, swearingen yellow and cyan, all Old Holland (I don't use the black). You can get a wide range of colors with this and a touch of yellow into the magenta produces a good strong red. These sorts of palettes seem to be enjoyed the most by painters who like mixing up grayed colors. Have fun. :) Dave

12-01-2004, 01:38 AM
Interesting -- I had a look at some of Judi Betts' work and see what you mean, but with a distinctly warm, purplish cast, where Lucy Willis' pictures are brighter and cooler from the violet.