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BGorski
03-30-2006, 02:43 PM
I'm currently taking lessons from a guy that is teaching me to reduce the number of paints I use on my palette. Like most amateurs I know, the fun things is to buy all these cool colors and then proceed to a point of utter confusion when it comes to for instance, making a good olive green, and repeating it the next time.

His teaching point of minimizing number of colors and learning them well prompted me to start wondering, what are your ideas for a "minimal" palette?

I would enjoy your responses, and Joe,my instructor, would too.

Thanks.
Bob

FriendCarol
03-30-2006, 03:06 PM
Hi, Bob, and welcome to WC!, and to Color Theory/Mixing forum. :)

There have been a few threads on this topic that I recall over the past couple of years, if you want to search. Basically, while there is agreement that a 3-color palette of the subtractive (CMY as in printing) primaries has a better gamut (with black and white unless one is using watercolor), there is also agreement that use of this palette requires too much mixing, particularly for plein air work. Many still go with the 3-color additive (light) primaries of RYB (again with black & white as needed), particularly if they work en plein air in oils or acrylics.

Then there is the debate over a 6-color palette, with the "traditionalist" choice of split primary (warm & cool of RYB) versus the so-called "secondary" palette. The major difference is that the latter uses only one (medium) yellow, and adds green; basically it ends up as a selection of 3 pairs of mixing complements. For an excellent discussion of this (with demonstration of gamut improvement over the 'split primary'), visit handprint.com -- click the colorwheel and then the Site Map. (Yes, it's for watercolor, but it's also all about color vision, color pigments, etc. regardless of medium.)

Then there are palettes which are variants of either the split primary or secondary palette, such as the one with burnt sienna (Nila something -- Leland maybe? -- sorry, I'm terrible at names). Handprint.com will also describe many of those for you (see "Palettes" and select the artist).

When I started with transparent w/c around January 2004, I had just spent a year reading all about it while saving for the basic materials. So I began with a reasonable 'complete' palette of about 19 pigments (reasonable for watercolorists, who need variety in opacity, granulation, etc. as well as hue :D ). From these I selected a very limited palette for each separate painting I tackled: 2-5 tubes, usually. Some months ago, I decided to abandon the limited palette approach entirely, but I do think I became much more adept at mixing because of my early experience.

Good luck! You're bound to get many replies to this one. ;)

rr113
03-30-2006, 03:42 PM
HI

Kevin MacPherson's palette is: alizarin crimson, cadmium red, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow, pthalo green, and ultramarine blue. Dark is made by mixing Alizarin with Phtalo green. Brown by orange and ultramarine blue. I hear he has substitute another cool red for alizarin. I am not sure he would include the orange.

Ken Backhaus's limited palette is: Alizarin crimson, permanent rose (quinacradone rose), ultramarine blue, lemon yellow, raw wiena, ivory black. There is a thread in the Plein Air Hall of Fame section which is a very good summary of a workshop he gave.

There is also a limited palette called a dead color palette. It's mostly earth colors. It's used for an underpainting or block in of colors. It has the aadvantage of being able to have low intensity, grayish colors, without there being a change in hue (yellow grays to olive green, red to maroon, orange to brown), but when you use earth colors, an earth yellow) like for a banana it retain a dull yellow. You can then put some high intensity, purer yellow on it, and it looks more like it looks in real light.

Richard

jdadson
03-30-2006, 07:24 PM
Aside #1 - John Singer Sargent was a truly great watercolorist, and he used both black and white paint.

Aside #2 - Alizarin crimson is fugative. It's redundant anyway, if you have quin rose on the palette.

jdadson
03-30-2006, 07:25 PM
I'm currently taking lessons from a guy that is teaching me to reduce the number of paints I use on my palette.

Have you asked him why?

Donna A
03-30-2006, 08:54 PM
Hi, Bob!!! The why for the Limited Palette in my painting classes with newer artists is that it is soooo much easier to learn to deal with color with a limited palette. I very much believe in a warm and cool for each of the three Primary Colors!!!! Really can serve the painter well!!!

I am a fan of a great substitute for the fugitive Alizarin Crimson-----and what I use to give the full qualities I got soooo used to when there were no good subs is now Art Spectrum's Permanent Crimson and AS's Permanent Magenta. (both colors give me qualites I want and need!!!) Also Cadmium Red Light, Cad. Yellow Light, Indian Yellow (OR Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna) and for my blues------French Ultramarine Blue and Phthalo Green----the latter acts as a very, very warm blue (or a very cool green.)

These colors give me tremendous range! It really does take a Phthalo Green or Blue to make some of the turquoises in our world!!!! Just does!!!!

I get more range with Phthalo Green than Blue!!!! But, either could work!

Normally, when I'm painting in the studio, I use a far wider range of colors-----for the qualities that each is able to give that no other pigment will give-----but then I have really learned what each pigment will DO over the decades!!!! Early on----it is ever so wise to limit yourself in order to learn color mixing and other issues. The fewer choices you have, the "simpler life is!!!!" Using a lot of pigments can confuse the issue!

We do not paint with colors that come out of the tube!!!! We need to learn to understand colors and to SEE colors as mixtures of Red, Yellow and Blue to develope our strongest relationships to color!!!! Really, truly! You are not being limited-----you are being invited to understand COLOR!!!!! Hooray!!!!

Very best wishes!!! Donna ;-}

Richard Saylor
03-30-2006, 10:11 PM
With the discovery of the amazing quinacridone red (brought to my attention by FriendCarol) I've found that a 4-color palette works well for most of my needs. In the attached color chart I used viridian for the green, but pthalo green bs is better.

Quinacridone red has a dual personality and serves as both a warm and cool red. Adding green to the palette makes it unnecessary to have both a warm and a cool yellow. (A cool yellow is mainly useful for mixing with blue to make greens.) A single slightly warm yellow makes good oranges as well as yellow-greens. Thus a 6-color palette can be reduced to 4-colors without too much chroma sacrifice.

Patrick1
03-30-2006, 11:26 PM
The why for the Limited Palette in my painting classes with newer artists is that it is soooo much easier to learn to deal with color with a limited palette. Yup. I become familiar with specifc combinations, and the less tubes you have, the faster and easier you become aquainted with these go-to combinations. For a grey-blue I go to my Turquoise + Quin Rose almost without thinking about it. A near neutral grey: Turquoise + Pyrrole Red light. As you add tubes there become exponentially more combinations (or whatever the matehmatical term is) and thus takes so much longer to familiarize. Also, you just don't need a lot of tubes to make beautifully colorful paintings :).

With the discovery of the amazing quinacridone red (brought to my attention by FriendCarol) I've found that a 4-color palette works well for most of my needs.Hrrrrm...I've been extolling the mixing versatility of PR209 here for alot longer than Carol :mad:. It's a real two-way player. Nice color chart....I might try such a 4-color palette. I just bought a 250ml squeeze bottle of Galeria acrylics PY73 as my only yellow...it should last me at least half a year. It seems to be better for mixing darks than opaque yellows. And if I want it more opaque, I add T. white.

FriendCarol
03-31-2006, 01:30 AM
Patrick, you should have mentioned PR209 directly to Richard! :smug:

Donna, there are advantages to the secondary palette over the split primary. Long threads have 'debated' the topic in this very forum. :) But since you have phthalo green, it doesn't really matter. :D Mostly we only try to 'convert' those who use limit themselves to 6 colors without phthalo green. :evil: (Nice to have your enthusiasm in here, btw!)

Jive: yeah, and Sargent was a tonalist. He never really understood the Impressionist movement (in his own words to his peers, the Impressionists -- I just read a recent biography of him!). He also felt his watercolor paintings were not good enough to sell... :rolleyes: Anyway, there are watercolorists who are tonalists, plenty of them. Then there are some of us who are colorists, and most colorists don't use any tube blacks, for good reason. ;)

Einion
03-31-2006, 05:18 AM
Hi Bob, welcome to the Colour Theory forum.

I'm currently taking lessons from a guy that is teaching me to reduce the number of paints I use on my palette. Like most amateurs I know, the fun things is to buy all these cool colors and then proceed to a point of utter confusion...
:lol:

...when it comes to for instance, making a good olive green, and repeating it the next time.
Just make it the same way you did the first time ;)

His teaching point of minimizing number of colors and learning them well prompted me to start wondering...
Working with a smaller palette has many things to recommend it, although a very small palette - e.g. primaries + white - shouldn't be used unless one has specific reasons to make the palette that small.

...what are your ideas for a "minimal" palette?
On the theoretica side or specific pigment recommendations?

There are many prior threads that touch of palette choices, smaller palettes and one palette v. another which would be worth going through.

Einion

Einion
03-31-2006, 05:31 AM
There is also a limited palette called a dead color palette.... It has the aadvantage of being able to have low intensity, grayish colors, without there being a change in hue ...when you use earth colors, an earth yellow) like for a banana it retain a dull yellow.
This will depend on the specific pigment - some yellow earths will appear quite green when black is added.

Thanks for the info on the limited palettes.

...yellow grays to olive green, red to maroon, orange to brown...
This is the desirable outcome or what one would seek to avoid?


I just bought a 250ml squeeze bottle of Galeria acrylics PY73 as my only yellow.... It seems to be better for mixing darks than opaque yellows.
It would be.

And if I want it more opaque, I add T. white.
Aww, the cadmiums are crying in the wings, you know that don't you? :)


Donna, there are advantages to the secondary palette over the split primary.
Yes indeed, depending on medium and the artist's goals it could be greatly superior.

Long threads have 'debated' the topic in this very forum. :)
Oi! There's no need for the inverted commas around debated :D

Sargent was a tonalist.... He also felt his watercolor paintings were not good enough to sell... :rolleyes:
Wow, isn't that something? Just goes to show how oil-centric the traditional art world can make one!

Einion

Jeff Rage
03-31-2006, 12:59 PM
I'm at the point where I'm trying to figure out what my palette will be. So right now, I have lots of colors. I'll eventually figure out a more limited palette, more than likely based on the split primary.

jdadson
03-31-2006, 02:19 PM
PR209 is a new one on me. How does it differ from the other quinacridones? Who makes an oil paint with it? Etc., etc. ...

Richard Saylor
03-31-2006, 03:31 PM
.....I just bought a 250ml squeeze bottle of Galeria acrylics PY73 as my only yellow...it should last me at least half a year. It seems to be better for mixing darks than opaque yellows. And if I want it more opaque, I add T. white.PY73 is also transparent in gouache. It gets more brilliant as well as more opaque when a little titanium white is added.

jdadson
03-31-2006, 03:42 PM
I'm at the point where I'm trying to figure out what my palette will be. So right now, I have lots of colors. I'll eventually figure out a more limited palette, more than likely based on the split primary.

"Split primary" has no theoretical foundation. Search the archives for a ton of discussion.

Richard Saylor
03-31-2006, 03:59 PM
PR209 is a new one on me. How does it differ from the other quinacridones? Who makes an oil paint with it? Etc., etc. ...There's a sort of "rave review" of PR209 at the Handprint site. Go to http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/waterr.html and scroll down. It is closer in masstone to a middle red than quinacridone rose or magenta, and it makes more brilliant oranges.

I don't know if it is available in oils. I can't find it in gouache, so I make do with watercolor :( .

Richard Saylor
03-31-2006, 04:42 PM
"Split primary" has no theoretical foundation. Search the archives for a ton of discussion.LOL! Since RYB doesn't work, maybe RRYYBB (two hues of each "primary") will work better. Oops, it is still green-deficient. :( Add green to the RRYYBB palette, and the "cool" yellow becomes redundant, so you end up with the RRYGBB (actually MRYGCB) secondary palette.

Actually, RYB is just a type of split-complementary color scheme. (R and Y are analogous colors on either side of the mixing complement of blue.) So RRYYBB could be called a dual split-complementary color scheme.

jdadson
03-31-2006, 04:59 PM
I found PR209 in oils in the M. Graham line (walnut oil).

Einion
04-01-2006, 04:56 AM
"Split primary" has no theoretical foundation.
Er, yes it does. The theory behind it may not be as sound as it can be made out to be but there is some clear reasoning behind typical choices for each pair of primaries and in practical painting it has some things to recommend it (remembering that maximising gamut is not the only goal in palette selection).

Einion

Richard Saylor
04-01-2006, 04:47 PM
I think it starts getting seriously problematic when one tries not only to have a warm and cool of each "primary" but imposes the additional constraint that one of them be opaque and the other transparent. Moreover, if someone is knowledgeable enough to use a dual split-complementary palette correctly, then they know enough about color mixing to devise their own palette to suit their particular color needs. Why not simply build a palette around one's favorite, most-used colors? It that happens to coincide with the analogous split dual bi-triadic palette, then so be it.

Leschi Painter
04-02-2006, 01:54 PM
[quote=Donna A]Hi, Bob!!! The why for the Limited Palette in my painting classes with newer artists is that it is soooo much easier to learn to deal with color with a limited palette. I very much believe in a warm and cool for each of the three Primary Colors!!!! Really can serve the painter well!!!

We need to learn to understand colors and to SEE colors as mixtures of Red, Yellow and Blue to develope our strongest relationships to color!!!! Really, truly! You are not being limited-----you are being invited to understand COLOR!!!!! Hooray!!!!

Thanks for this-

I'm actually going in the opposite direction. After a decade, I'm moving towards a much more restricted palette. Just starting out, I was much more concerned with getting the color of the object in reality 'correct', than working through color theory itself. And also figuring out the different properties of the paints themselves. But now I'm on it. Like most things in my life, I'm moving backwards!

Richard Saylor
04-02-2006, 06:14 PM
For anyone interested in minimal palettes, I think it is an important learning experience :evil: to experiment with the CMY primaries. A suitable choice of colors might be pthalo blue rs, quinacridone rose, and arylide yellow med. C+M makes blues and purples. M+Y makes reds and oranges, and C+Y makes greens. It is amazing what one can do with such a palette (although almost every color needed must be mixed). Moreover, it can increase one's appreciation of the versatility and utility of the so-called split primary (dual split complementary) palette, since CMY usually constitutes one-half of the split primary scheme.

Einion
04-03-2006, 04:54 AM
I think it starts getting seriously problematic when one tries not only to have a warm and cool of each "primary" but imposes the additional constraint that one of them be opaque and the other transparent.
Agreed. Apart from anything - which one of the pair is better/best chosen to be opaque? Because of pigment limitations wanting to do this inevitably leads to forced decisions about a given palette choice.

Moreover, if someone is knowledgeable enough to use a dual split-complementary palette correctly, then they know enough about color mixing to devise their own palette to suit their particular color needs.
Yep.

The simple truth is that most experienced painters use smaller palettes than those of us in the experimental/developing phase and it is their results we so often admire so there seems an inevitable conclusion one can draw about the perceived need for larger palettes.

Einion

BGorski
04-06-2006, 12:09 PM
Pretty much from a learning and discipline standpoint. I'm painting an acrylic right now....a storm coming in over a yellow oat field. The storm colors and the gold of the oat stubble is a color combination I grew up with in the midwest on the farm....I've always loved it.

My sky colors lean a bit too much towards the purple. I wanted to redo it, but my teacher, again from a form of discipline, encouraged me to balance my colors and values to the clouds as they are. So far I'm the only one that doesn't like it. Others in the class like the combination.

So he is teaching me some discipline in the creative process which I have been lacking.

By the way thanks to everyone for the private and public postings. This is a great crowd to run around with. Much more fun than the Home Depot crowd...LOL!!!

Bob

BGorski
03-16-2007, 10:06 PM
Thanks to all for the great information and comments back about the value of the minimum palette.

It has been about a year since i started to study with "Joe", and I have to tell you I have learned more in the last 12+ months by using a few colors than i have learned from books, etc over the preceding severa years.

It is a great way to learn discipline, and become more aware of the the art of color mixing....obviously much more challenging than the art of buying your colors mixed by a corporation.

And what has been fun to experience is when he suggests the incorporation of new colors to achieve certain color schemes. I was working on a thunderhead lit by setting sun, and he gave me naples yellow and Cd Red light. I felt like someone who had been on a saltfree diet for months, and the dietician just gave me salt to sprinkle on my food.

A year ago it would have been no big deal, but now, like adding salt again, I could see differences between yellows, and differences between using Cd Red and Aliz Crimson. With my tastebuds dulled a year ago, I couldn't notice the difference.

So speaking as a student, this minimalist boot camp has been well worth the effort.

Thanks again to all for your shared wisdom.

Bob

Wojdo
03-17-2007, 03:38 PM
I like to use a limited pallette myself.

Yellow orche
light red
ultramarine blue
ivory black
white

I think I'am going to add terre verte to this to bump up my green a little.

These are colors that I love and when mixed I think they make buautiful colors I know that there to dull for most artist, thats the way I like it
and it works for me.

Einion
03-17-2007, 06:41 PM
Thanks Bob, great to hear back about something like this, especially since it proved so beneficial to you.

Einion

Richard Saylor
03-18-2007, 12:38 AM
I like to use a limited pallette myself.

Yellow orche
light red
ultramarine blue
ivory black
white

I think I'am going to add terre verte to this to bump up my green a little.

These are colors that I love and when mixed I think they make buautiful colors I know that there to dull for most artist, thats the way I like it
and it works for me.Dull is not bad in itself. Personally I sometimes get a little turned off by the drab army green that one gets from ultramarine blue (or black) and yellow ochre, but that's a matter of taste. Terre verte should not bump the green up too much, and it might help make green foliage a little more palatable for folks like me.

I've been using viridian or pthalo green as a "bumper upper", but it is a weird hue, which is not generally very useful. Terre verte has the reputation of being so weak as to be inefffectual, but I think its low saturation is one of its virtues.

Richard

Einion
03-18-2007, 06:14 AM
I've been using viridian or pthalo green as a "bumper upper", but it is a weird hue, which is not generally very useful.
Yeah, I find this too. Still, I'd prefer to have it rather than not in a smallish palette but with something larger I don't find PG7 necessary.

Einion

6Lines
03-21-2007, 11:54 AM
Terre verte has the reputation of being so weak as to be inefffectual, but I think its low saturation is one of its virtues.

Richard

Try the version by Williamsburg. It is the most powerful of all the brands of Terry Verte, almost Veridian only warmer. I absolutly love it and use it in place of Verdian on a limited pallett. It dries in one day.

Michael Carter

Richard Saylor
03-21-2007, 12:14 PM
Try the version by Williamsburg. It is the most powerful of all the brands of Terry Verte, almost Veridian only warmer. I absolutly love it and use it in place of Verdian on a limited pallett. It dries in one day.

Michael CarterA warmer version of veridian sounds almost ideal. I may try it.

Richard

meart
03-21-2007, 06:07 PM
Aside #1 - John Singer Sargent was a truly great watercolorist, and he used both black and white paint.

Aside #2 - Alizarin crimson is fugative. It's redundant anyway, if you have quin rose on the palette.

there is now a permanent alizarin crimson .....its called permanent alizarin

meart
03-21-2007, 06:18 PM
a writer would not use a restricted language to write with ..a musician would not reduce the number of notes to compose with...so why o why when we have all these marvelous colours do we want to restrict ourselves to a 4 or whatever limited palette???

Einion
03-21-2007, 07:41 PM
a writer would not use a restricted language to write with ..a musician would not reduce the number of notes to compose with...so why o why when we have all these marvelous colours do we want to restrict ourselves to a 4 or whatever limited palette???
If you read through this thread, and other similar ones here in CT&M, you'll see many of the philosophical and practical reasons one might do this.

Einion

FriendCarol
03-21-2007, 09:11 PM
But I think meart is also a watercolour painter... and we do often need a larger palette for certain effects. ;) Joseph Rafael reportedly uses up to 40 pigments in a single large painting. Zoltan Szabo also had a very large complete palette, although he tended to use only up to 8 or so in any one painting.

Hi, meart (I like your handle!). As I understand it, the limited palette is good for (1) beginners learning to mix colors, or becoming familiar with what a few pigments can do, (2) oil or acrylic painters who have to lug heavy equipment into the field, and (3) some painters (usually working with landscapes or other natural forms) who want to focus on using color effects based on context (simultaneous contrast) and so on. If all you need from your color mixing is getting the proper color (hue, chroma, and value), a well-chosen limited palette can work very well for most subjects. (Botanical and portrait painters usually require more, because some colors that are important for them will be out of gamut with most limited palettes.) But if you rely on characteristics such as transparency/opacity, sedimentation/granulation, liftable/staining, etc. for your effects, a larger palette is necessary.

nit-wit
03-22-2007, 07:34 AM
Yes it's the best way of learning colour. A standard art school exercise would be to use two colours only (this would be an exercise in abstraction). ie. Do as much as you can with those. You will learn buckets more by struggling with these restrictions. Alas there's no substitute for spade work. Advanced colour use only comes with advanced knowledge. Though some artists do have a real talent for a 'mix and match' approach to colour - think Van Gogh. But they still have accumulated a 'knowledge' from which to draw from. Interestingly Van Gogh started with a very 'muddy' pallette - and look what he went on to achieve colour wise!

You will find that you can match (appropriate) most colours found in nature with just a few pigments. When, and only when, you can't match the colour you see, you extend your pallette with an appropriate new colour. You should earn your pallette.

Only the rich and foolish go out and buy millions of colours willy nilly (and secretly between me and you - they usually don't know what they're talking about!).

nw