View Full Version : verdaccio, pallet color questions....

11-29-2001, 01:28 PM
I'll be getting some oils for xmas (um, better be) and I have a few questions for whoever:

I'm wondering what a good starter pallet would be. When I painted in watercolors and acrylics I used: cad red, alizarin, ceruleum, ultramarine,cad yellow, ocre, burnt sienna, raw umber, sometimes hooker's green, and that's about it. Are these appropriate with oils? I don't experiment with colors much, usually stick to a very limited pallet.

Verdaccio - this technique greatly appeals to me. But I always thought oils were an opaque medium, so I'm not sure what a glaze is. When you do a verdaccio, are the glazes completely transparent and let the underpainting determine all the values, or is the underpainting merely a starting point to build up your colors over? Isn't doing a glaze over an underpainting like this contrary to the rule fat over lean? Also, my mominlaw paints in oils and her paintings (landscapes) literally take months to dry. So do you do the underpainting and then shelve it for weeks before working on it again?

Right now I'm working on a cp drawing that I would also like to render in oils. I'm wondering if the subject is too ambitious for a first try. The progress pics are here in the figure forum:

Thanks to anyone who wants to tackle these questions.

11-29-2001, 01:49 PM
Hello Brenda:

Well, quite a lot of questions here. I will try to answer them all and hopefully others will join in as you need many sources of input in addition to mine.

The colors I think any beginning oil painter should have depend on what they are painting - landscape palette is different from portraiture palette, etc. However, since your piece you posted is a painting of a human, here is some of the colors you might want to start with:

Titanium White
*Flake White or Crementz White

Cerulian Blue
Ultramarine Blue

Napthol Red Light
Cad Red Light
Alizarin Crimson Permanent (Gamblin)

Mars Yellow
Cad Yellow Light

Earth Tones:
Raw Sienna
Yellow Ochre
Raw Umber
Burnt Sienna

There are also some paints that I use a lot that are not on this palette:

Chromium Oxide Green
Green Earth
Asphaltum (brown)
Naples Yellow

And finally, Black. You can and should mix your own blacks when you need them, but I do use Mars Black to mix my verdaccio values.

If you want decent artists grade paints without breaking the bank, then try www.utrechtart.com. Good paint, reasonable prices. You will have to go to a European maker for the Flake or other lead whites - I like Old Holland Crementz.

11-29-2001, 01:56 PM
Originally posted by kiwicockatoo
Verdaccio - this technique greatly appeals to me. But I always thought oils were an opaque medium, so I'm not sure what a glaze is. When you do a verdaccio, are the glazes completely transparent and let the underpainting determine all the values, or is the underpainting merely a starting point to build up your colors over? Isn't doing a glaze over an underpainting like this contrary to the rule fat over lean? Also, my mominlaw paints in oils and her paintings (landscapes) literally take months to dry. So do you do the underpainting and then shelve it for weeks before working on it again?

I do a complete charcoal value study. Then I opaquely paint a monochromatic underpainting over the charcoal. This can either be monochrome gray (grisaille), or gray-green (verdaccio). Others will do high-key undertones with things like Mars Yellow. Just about any method is good. The idea is to use a fairly lean paint to establish your darks and lights. I use liquin or galkyd in my undertones because I want them to dry fast and I want them to be rock hard permanent before I apply color over the top.

I take my underpainting to a very high level of detail because I like to glaze. A glaze is a transparent or a semi-transparent layer of paint. When I do a glaze, then my highly defined underpainting shows through defining the details - the glaze is like a thin pane of colored glass. Glazing is usually done with a medium that is suitable for glazing. My medium is touch dry in about a day and a half, and I can paint additional layers over it the next day without worry.

11-29-2001, 02:00 PM
Thanks for the quick reply Verdaccio! I admit, I was interested in what colors you use....Thanks also clarifying the underpainting process. I know you've probably posted all this before, so thanks for posting it again for me!

11-29-2001, 02:25 PM
my last body of work was about swimming pools. i wanted to see if it was possible to paint the way four-color printing works, with a CYMK color space. i know its a little wonky, but i'm kind of a color freak. here is my CMYK color palette:

titanium/zinc white
quinacradone rose red
cadmium yellow deep
vine black

recently, i got heavily into the tranparent oxides. i begun painting a large picture of an autumn graveyard with the following palette:

titanium white
transparent red oxide
transparent yellow oxide
nickel yellow
carbon black

my point is, you can use whatever colors you like. i think any palette should cover at the minimum:

a white
a red
a yellow
a blue
and maybe a black

if there are secondaries that you use a lot that are a pain to mix every time, add an orange, a green, or a violet.

for a fuller palette, you could go to (and these are just recommandations):

a white (titanium)
a warm and cool earth (say yellow ochre and raw umber)
a warm and cool red (alizarin crimson and cadmium red light)
a cool yellow (cadmium lemon or hansa lemon)
a warm green (chromium oxide, excellent for verdaccio) OR a cool green (phthalo green or viridian)
a warm and cool blue (cerulean and ultramarine blue or violet)
a black (i prefer carbon or vine)

i personally feel that the fewer colors you put out on your palette, the better. you save paint and money, and its less confusing for the beginning painter.

my color theories are somewhat unorthodox, but i have found that they work. i have my hands in paint all day long and i know that a little goes a long way. less is more!

11-29-2001, 03:14 PM
CYM Palette -

Pthalo Blue 15.1

No Black Needed .
Almost all transparent on Canvas.

White is Ti02/Zn0

RGB Palette

Cad. Yellow light [ or Hue]
Vermilion type Red
Ultramarine Blue .

No Black needed
Transparency can be induced
where needed with Blanc Fixe.

White as above.

Less is more.

11-29-2001, 04:34 PM
Thanks Sarkana and Titanium. I'm hoping to get by on as few colors as possible since I'm on a limited budget - but I've always tried to rely on as few colors as possible. You've all given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

11-29-2001, 04:36 PM
Brenda, you might like to take a look in the Color Theory/Mixing forum and have a look through some of the older threads (like <A HREF=http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2494>here</A>), for a lot of different opinions on palette choices.

Personally I favour a twin-primary palette as being the minimum palette for a broad range of work but a lot depends on your subject matter and how you like to paint. Although I would prefer to have a few more colours like the earths, my bare-bones recommendation would be:
Titanium White
Carbon or Lamp Black
Azo Yellow Light, PY3
Cadmium Yellow Medium, PY37
Cadmium Red Light, PR108
Quinacridone Rose, PV19
Ultramarine, PB29
Phthalocyanine Blue GS, PB15:3
These are all very lightfast (all ASTM I in oils if memory serves) and reliable, provide a good range of transparency/opacity and will mix the widest range possible from only eight colours.

Remember glazes don't have to be made with medium, brushing in a colour (particularly with transparent pigments) over the underpainting to leave a "stain", can give the same result. It also uses very little paint and will dry very fast.

Kim, don't you think Phthalo Blue GS would be a better choice than the BS for a CMY palette? ;)


11-29-2001, 05:46 PM
Einion ,

I got my CYM combination from the W and N
site , for Artisan .
All they offer is Pthalo B. 15.1

If I can successfully accustom my eyes to
this - shocking - colour palette , I can get
the Pthalo.B.15.3 from Kremer as dry

I am still pushing the CYM palette , and
don't really know if I will stay with it.

W and N also mentioned the 6 colour
palette - 2 Red - 2 Blue - 2 Yellow .

I seem to have run my original palette on
one earth colour , one bright colour repeated.
[ I use iron oxide blue black as a colour
imperfect blue - not a darkener ].

Any pointers on CYM ?

12-01-2001, 05:51 AM
Einion, your color recommendations are very similar to mine. The one thing I noticed is you recommend quinacridone rose as the choice for a 'cool red'. If your goal was to mix the broadest range of colors as cleanly as possible, wouldn't a better choice for the cool red/magenta position be quinacridone magenta (or maybe even quinacridone violet)?

I'm sure you'll agree it would mix cleaner purples with the cost being only slightly duller middle reds. So can I assume that you want to mix cleaner reds, and purples are less of a priority?

Titanium, here's my opinion about CMY: this will mix 'more colors more cleanly' (a larger gamut) than the more typical RYB, especially in the greens, but like any 3-primary palette, it's far from perfect. I found its main weakness is that it doesn't mix clean oranges and its middle blues arent great...it can't make a clean ultramarine blue (then again, nothing can).

Also, just because CMY can mix more colors cleanly than RYB, it isn't always a better choice in artistic terms....in fact often the more traditional RYB is more artisically pleasing due to its inherent biases.

12-01-2001, 07:33 AM
Hi Kim, except for watercolour work or if you glaze extensively I'm not a strong supporter of a CMY palette for painting (because the masstones don't fit the theoretical model) but it certainly gives the most varied results for a three-primary palette.

PB15:3 is definitely the choice for a cyan. Although PB17 is actually closer to the theoretical ideal it is generally not quite so reliable.

Quinacridone Magenta, PR122, is probably the best choice for a magenta selection but the rose form of PV19 can also be good and offers slightly better lightfastness generally.

The yellow is the hardest hue position to fill as pigments with the best reflectance spectra are rarely lightfast. In terms of artists'-quality pigments PY3 is pretty good both theoretically and in my experience but is actually not quite as transparent as one would like. Another arylide yellow, PY97, and Benzimidazolone Yellow H3G, PY154, are mentioned as strong contenders but both are not as light-valued as one might like; however PY97 is the most saturated yellow available which might be useful practically. Another benzimidazolone, PY151, is worth investigating.

Patrick, in the case of a very pared down palette of this kind (which remember is RYB-based not CMY) this would be my choice for the violet-biased red because of its higher chroma. It does mix less-saturated violets but bright violets are not common in nature, yellows, oranges and reds are on the other hand so therefore it offers slightly better utility.


12-01-2001, 07:52 AM
And also, as Einion would surely have pointed out, the difference between masstone and undertone
should not be ignored. For exapmle, while the undertone of quinacridone magenta is clean and is one of, if not the 'best' choice for primary red/magenta, in masstone it's a whole different story. Its masstone, as you know is a dark, less purplish, slightly burgundy color, not good for clean mixes in masstone. Also the phthalo blues, in undertone are very good but in masstone are almost black.

So you must consider a lot of things...it's not as simple as just saying the 3 best primaries are always X Y and Z. It always depends on what you're trying to achieve.

BTW, if I had to choose a 3-color primary palette for all my color mixing, it would be something like the one recommended by W&N, despite the fact that it's not really a CMY triad...it's a bit closer to RYB.

12-01-2001, 07:55 AM
Holy cow, just as I posted my second reply, Einion had already posted his. As usual, it's a very inforative reply.

12-01-2001, 10:58 PM
Urk, this is turning out to be a lot more complicated than I bargained for....when I work in cp I don't think about color theory at all. So many more things to factor in with oils....I've got a lot more research ahead of me. Thanks everyone.