View Full Version : Using a Limited Palette

01-17-2008, 05:19 PM
May I make a suggestion that we start a thread of examples where we have used a limited palette?

Here's my contribution which won an award at the PSA exhibit a few years ago:

Title: The Blue Portal
Pastel 16x20
on gessoed Masonite

This pastel was done with 4 colors over a blue toned ground. The "generic" colors are burnt sienna, blue, and a very small amounts of yellow and green. I don't know the specific shades names or brands of the pastels because I remove the labels from all my sticks and store them in groups of like hues. I choose and match colors by eye.

Jim Few
I tried to insert it in the text but the program would only accept an attachment.
http://jimfew.home.mchsi.com (http://jimfew.home.mchsi.com)

01-17-2008, 05:24 PM
i really like this, its very much eye candy to me! the blues zinging off the orangey color of the building, this really worked well! i think your idea for this thread is good, i'll go looksee if i have anything to add--not real hopeful at that tho., as using a limited palate is something i've been meaning to play around with!

cal studio
01-17-2008, 06:13 PM
This is awesome!!! I checked your web site and I am bewildered by the outstanding art that I enjoyed there.


01-17-2008, 06:19 PM
Hi Jim, amazing job with only four colours!

Pics appear in the text if you use the button right under the "undo" arrow in the toolbar of a new message (in advanced mode if you reply). The button or icon looks like an envelope with a stamp :) , I believe it is supposed to be hills with a sun... meaning "image".

What number of colours constitute a limited palette? I guess my maximum of 25 is too much... I "need" at least 12 colours, a warm and a cool of every primary and secondary.

01-17-2008, 07:48 PM
Gorgeous...love the contrasts!

David Patterson
01-17-2008, 08:41 PM
Very nice Jim! I also love the "orangy" colors. I see why it won an award.

Well, my first pastels had a very limited palette. It is of a color seascape photo I took in Seaside, Oregon nearing sunset. Some of you have already seen it on my blog. It's 13"x23" on Canson. I think I only used 4 different Rembrandt pastels.

"Seaside Before Sunset"

Reference photo:

01-17-2008, 08:45 PM
wow, great example of a limited palette!

01-17-2008, 09:52 PM
Jim. wonderful painting the door jumps off the page almost. Invites me right in.

David. I like what you did here too. It makes me want to be there with them.


01-18-2008, 12:24 AM

How 'bout this palette of Ultramarine Blue tint and Red Iron Oxide (pan pastels) on black canson? Oh, and for detail I used black pastel pencil. (Posted this once before last fall)

01-19-2008, 10:19 AM
Why am I even looking in this thread? I want MORE pastels, not LESS! :D

In all seriousness, what I've seen so far look gorgeous.

Jim - the colorist in me loves the bright sunny feel you've achieved in your piece.

David - I'm oohing and ahhing over the subtleties of color in your beach scene. Lovely!

Brenda - There's actually TWO pastel colors in here? It reads as a lovely monochromatic piece. Great job.

01-20-2008, 06:48 AM
What a great idea to use limited pastels. I do it all the time. Limited to all the colours I have available!! LOL!! Seriously, though the examples shown here are excellent, and just prove what can be done when limited to just a few. These really show the tonal values that can be lost when using colour.

I'll give this a try with my next picture, and limit it to 4 sticks max!

01-20-2008, 08:24 PM
Excellent idea Jim. This goes along somewhat with the thread that Michael began on a limited palette that's since morphed into a lengthy discussion color theory.

Now then, am I to understand the challenge is no more than 4 colors, but more than one value within each color? Should be fun!