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Old 11-15-2017, 05:56 PM
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Armadillobelly Armadillobelly is online now
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Primary palette advice

So the basic primaries everyone starts with are cad red; cad yellow; ultramarine
The modern alternative is magenta; cad yellow; cyan
My question is what happens is you switch it up and use something like Prussian blue; alizarin crimson; and yellow ochre as the main primaries? Would a palette like that work? Can transparent colors be used in a primary palette? Thoughts?
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Old 11-15-2017, 07:07 PM
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opainter opainter is offline
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Re: Primary palette advice

Your "basic primaries" are additive colors, and your "modern alternative[s]" are subtractive colors. You could use either red together with either blue (along with Cadmium Yellow) and make an effective painting. This fact makes the friendly disagreement in this forum between those who advocate an additive palette and those who advocate a subtractive palette somewhat practically moot. (Although others in this forum will be sure to respectfully disagree!) This is my take.

For the other palette that you mentioned, Prussian blue, alizarin crimson, and yellow ochre, whether or not these will work depends very much on the type of coloration you want in your painting. You will get a very deep purple, a rusty orange, and a bottle green from your mixes of any two of these colors. Together with these primaries, are these the colors that you want? You will not be able to mix any more vivid colors than these, and if that is okay for the subject of your painting and the colors that you like the most, then so be it! If you are painting a landscape, you will get one with muted colors. If you want something more vivid, i.e., higher chroma, or more saturated, use the other colors. If your painting calls for both muted and vivid colors, you have a couple of options. You can use either the additive or subtractive palette with neutrals such as Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Lamp Black, and so forth, probably one or two of these colors (I would recommend two) for reducing their chroma in mixes beyond what you can easily do by simply mixing these colors with each other. Or you can use the third palette that you have shown, but add in probably one or two more vivid colors (again, I would recommend two), whichever colors you want to see vividly expressed in your otherwise muted-color painting, for example, Cadmium Orange (PO20). You may no longer have a primary palette of three colors, and if you feel that it is essential to use only three colors, if you want to use your third palette, you should be very certain that you don't want any more vivid colors in your painting that those that you have and can mix.
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Last edited by opainter : 11-15-2017 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 11-15-2017, 08:29 PM
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Pinguino Pinguino is offline
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Re: Primary palette advice

Have a look at handprint:

http://handprint.com/HP/WCL/wpalet.html

There, you will find the (watercolor) palettes used by a number of painters. They're not primary palettes, but you can get a good idea of how the style of painting related to the selected palette.
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Old 11-15-2017, 08:58 PM
ntl ntl is offline
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Re: Primary palette advice

Here's a couple of links:
Tips for variations on the three primaries
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show....php?t=1350876

What do you do with three colors & white
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=561821

The Student Palette
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=957025

Last edited by ntl : 11-15-2017 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 11-16-2017, 04:12 AM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Primary palette advice

If you want a versatile pallette, try a CMYK palette with a few extra colors:
  • Titanium White (PW 6)
  • Lemon Yellow (PY 3 or PY 175)
  • Azo Yellow Deep (PY 65 or PY 110)
  • Quinacridone Magenta (PR 122)
  • Pyrrole Red Light (PR 255)
  • Phthalo Green (PG 7)
  • Phthalo Blue Green Shade (PB 15:3)
  • Ultramarine Blue (PB 29)
  • Yellow Ochre (PY 43)
  • Ivory Black (PBk 9)

This has a HUGE range. You should be able to paint lots of subjects well.
Unlike most palettes, there's also space for a bright teal here by mixing Phthalo Green and Phthalo Blue and/or Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White. This will allow you to paint bright skies and seas.
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Old 11-17-2017, 04:02 AM
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Re: Primary palette advice

Quote:
So the basic primaries everyone starts with are cad red; cad yellow; ultramarine
The modern alternative is magenta; cad yellow; cyan
My question is what happens is you switch it up and use something like Prussian blue; alizarin crimson; and yellow ochre as the main primaries? Would a palette like that work? Can transparent colors be used in a primary palette? Thoughts?
Just about any choice of 3 colors can work (surprisingly, even ones that are not close to c-m-y or red-yellow-blue), but each will give a different gamut (range of colors) which can greatly influence the color 'feel' or color mood of the finished work. Because a 3-color palette will be limited in gamut, IMO this is a strength - it makes it easier to achieve cohesive color harmony and less likely to get garish coloration. The best way to get a feel for different palettes is to do your own color mixing scales or wheels, or to do little practise paintings in different palettes.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-tPlwggEFaV...Palettes.2.jpg

Certainly transparent colors can be used - they allow rich, dark mixes if no white is added. But in the later stages of the painting, you might need to add white or some other opaque color for the bright hits of light. Prussian Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Yellow Ochre is a lovely traditional, mid-chroma palette good for tonalist work. Because the Prussian Blue and Crimson are very dark and transparent, you'll have no trouble mixing your own blacks. But real Alizarin PR83 is one of the least permanent pigments still used in artist media - better to get a more lightfast altenative.
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Old 11-18-2017, 08:18 PM
davidbriggs davidbriggs is offline
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Re: Primary palette advice

Most people in practice use a palette of a cyan, a magenta or crimson and a yellow plus some added high-chroma colours, though many of them think of their magenta and cyan primaries as "cool" red and "cool" (greenish) blue respectively.
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Old 11-19-2017, 10:09 AM
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Re: Primary palette advice

A study color theory will answer a lot of questions, and the links provided by David Briggs in his post would be 2 good ones, as will be the other links provided. After learning from some of those, determining just what primary color options (and there are many,) will give you the results you want will be much easier.

I think every beginning artist would benefit from a good understanding of color theory, and the relationship of the theory to paint pigments and their properties.
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Old 12-11-2017, 01:00 PM
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Re: Primary palette advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadillobelly
So the basic primaries everyone starts with are cad red; cad yellow; ultramarine
The modern alternative is magenta; cad yellow; cyan
My question is what happens is you switch it up and use something like Prussian blue; alizarin crimson; and yellow ochre as the main primaries? Would a palette like that work? Can transparent colors be used in a primary palette? Thoughts?

That's the fun thing about primary palettes. If you switch it up and use different primaries, you get different effects. The whole painting still has the unity of a primary palette but it's powerful. Zorn palette is a variation on that - bright cad red, earth yellow, black as blue and white. It works and with that arrangement, the black shows up as blue in its tints.

My favorite primary palette is the one Winsor & Newton suggested over a decade ago - Permanent Rose, Lemon Yellow and Ultramarine (or French Ultramarine). It gives me strong bright secondaries and does not create a grayed violet, which drove me nuts with the first one you mentioned. Cad Red always has a yellow cast to it, even in Deep, so with that and a green cast blue you wind up with a grayed violet or a flat out gray that isn't violet even without bringing the yellow in. It also mutes the greens because Cad Yellow is orange cast, unless it's Pale or Extra Light or something that pushes it to lemon.

Getting a gray for a violet bothered me as far back as kindergarten, where a teacher explained primary mixing and promptly made gray with the red and blue tempera. When I challenged her about it she said something vaguely about "it's the pigments, the choice of pigments in the red and the blue." Which was unsatisfying and not the answer I found much later with a 12 color wheel.

What confused me then was why none of the other kids noticed that. Then again, none of them were as interested in art as I was. I loved color, to a very strong degree. To the point where it was actually hard to pick a favorite color and I'd have to ask "for what?" because my real answer has always been "all of them, lots."

the best way to find out about alternative primary palettes is to just try it in a small study. Doing the same subject over and over in it might help too, like a study of a particular tree or a river and hill, something that's got your usual subjects in it but where the difference the palette makes changes the feel of the painting. I say landscapes but if you prefer doing people the result could be fun on that too.

Using all transparent colors can be gorgeous, it will give the painting a beautiful look. If you enjoy handling transparencies the result can be spectacular. Heck, if you do it on a clear substrate, like acrylic on acetate, you could get a stained-glass effect. In watercolor, inks or oils it'll still have that stained glass glow on white. Lightening only with medium or water will give it maximum luminosity. Porcelain palettes are good for mixing as they won't stain.

Quinacridones are transparent and I've shifted over to Quinacridone Gold and Quinacridone Magenta, Red or Rose sometimes when I want a transparent palette. Not Quin Gold Dark, but Quin Gold thins out to a brilliant yellow. Good deal more lightfast than original Alizarin, often a component in Permanent Alizarin paints.
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Last edited by robertsloan2 : 12-11-2017 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 12-11-2017, 06:39 PM
DaveCrow DaveCrow is online now
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Re: Primary palette advice

Antwerp Blue, Hansa yellow and Pyrrol Red make a nice palette in watercolour.
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Old 12-14-2017, 05:01 AM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Primary palette advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by opainter
Your "basic primaries" are additive colors, and your "modern alternative[s]" are subtractive colors. You could use either red together with either blue (along with Cadmium Yellow) and make an effective painting. This fact makes the friendly disagreement in this forum between those who advocate an additive palette and those who advocate a subtractive palette somewhat practically moot. (Although others in this forum will be sure to respectfully disagree!) This is my take.

All pigments are subtractive. Subtractive here means they lose saturation when mixing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subtractive_color

The only colors that are additive, that is, that increase in saturation when mixing, are the colors of light.

The only way to get additive and subtractive colors together would be if you combined pigments with beams of light in your painting.
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Old 12-17-2017, 09:41 PM
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Re: Primary palette advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadillobelly
So the basic primaries everyone starts with are cad red; cad yellow; ultramarine
The modern alternative is magenta; cad yellow; cyan
My question is what happens is you switch it up and use something like Prussian blue; alizarin crimson; and yellow ochre as the main primaries? Would a palette like that work?
absolutely can work, but you are significantly reducing the possibilities in the yellow department.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadillobelly
Can transparent colors be used in a primary palette? Thoughts?
yes, my thoughts are that in art you can do whatever you want because there are no rules.
more thoughts:
I think of the primaries as red, yellow, and blue, and that it would be foolish to limit my palette to only three colors. It doesn't matter to me how they are biased, nor what specific pigments will yeild the most possible colors. Magenta and cad red are reds, cyan and ultramarine are blues, lemon yellow and yellow ochre are yellows. If you only pick three from all of your many possibilities, then you are limited, no matter what.
What matters is temperature. You get way more mileage from a warm and cool biased color palette, with six colors, than from any possible single biased triad choice of colors.
example of cool and warm combos would be:
aliz crim or magenta and cad red lt
ultramarine and cerulean blue
cad yellow lemon and cad yellow med.
warm vs cool, biased one way vs the other way, yin and yang
with those I can mix a lot more than anything I will ever need to use.
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Last edited by sidbledsoe : 12-17-2017 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 12-18-2017, 02:13 AM
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Gigalot Gigalot is offline
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Re: Primary palette advice

Yellow ochre and Venetian Red are "must have" colors to work. But you also "must have" Cadmium Orange; Quinacridone Magenta; Phthalo Blue; Phthalo Green and Cadmium Lemon. You can also try Chromium Oxide green and Transparent Yellow PY128.
If you do not have Cadmium Yellow, then Yellow ochre is not useful. If you do not have Cadmium Orange and Quin Magenta, then Venetian Red has nothing to do on palette.
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Old 12-18-2017, 03:15 PM
DaveCrow DaveCrow is online now
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Re: Primary palette advice

I have Venitian red but not Cad orange and I find plenty for it to do. No pthalo blue either. I paint landscapes and still life.

I am extremely sceptical and disbelieving when every anyone says "these are must have colours," as if good paintings cannot be done without them. Pthalos and quins are extremely modern pigments, not in many great paintings.

Some of my favourite paintings were done with nothing but earths and charcoal. They have lasted for 15,000 years! No cadmium yellow to mix with their yellow ochre, no cadmium orange and quin magenta to mix with their red ochre (which is Fe2O3, the same hematite as Venitian red). Look at Lascaux, Chauvet or Altamira and tell me they needed Cads and Quins.
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Old 12-18-2017, 09:09 PM
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Re: Primary palette advice

I remember a thread in oils where we were trying to determine the most yellowest yellow ochre available.
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Last edited by sidbledsoe : 12-18-2017 at 09:18 PM.
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