Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PAINTING: Palettes

I’m going to break down some different palettes I’ve been using. This is numero uno, I’ll post more later.
Last semester, this was the full palette I was using in Still Life based on my teacher’s instructions. Any text in red on the image means the color is to be pre-mixed.

  • Colors are arranged from warm to cool and light to dark. It’s not entirely precise but personally I keep the white to yellow to red to blue pretty much the same on every palette I use. It’s a good idea to get into a habit of placing colors a certain way; it’ll speed up painting since you won’t be searching for the right color all the time.
  • The basic idea behind this setup is that you have at least one cool and one warm version of each primary. Hence the warm cadmium red and the cool alizarin crimson, the warm cadmium yellow and cool lemon yellow, and the warm cobalt blue and cool ultramarine blue.
  • At this point, I use a lot of hues (cheap versions of colors that are made from mixes, rather than the actual pigment) because I don’t have the budget to afford some colors. Some hues are better than others, though. I find that the cobalt blue hues that I’ve tried all pretty much sucked, since they were almost exactly the same as ultramarine blue. I’d say it’s worth buying the real thing if you’re going to use it. Right now, I use cerulean blue as a warmer blue instead.
  • For the green mix, I like viridian green instead of mixing it. I find it’s a good all around green and it mixes into a lot of different colors nicely. I’ve tried phthalo green but I found it a little too dark/cool for my taste.
  • For the brown, I used burnt umber instead of mixing. I’ve always liked the cool black I could get mixing it with ultramarine blue. I use alizarin crimson and viridian for another black mix.
  • Raw umber is another brown, but I find it pretty easy to mimic through mixing (green, brown and a little yellow ochre or something along those lines) so I don’t bother putting it on my palette.
  • I sometimes subbed dioxazine purple for the purple mix, but I find that color to be a little too powerful; it’s really, really overpowering so most of the time I’d mix my own.
  • Terra Rosa is a pretty strong color. I usually don’t put too much on my palette, or I use burnt sienna instead.
  • I usually base the warm white mix on the color of the lamp light so a lot of time it ends up being a cadmium yellow and white mix with a little cadmium red to make it a more orange since the light I’m using is warm in color.


  1. Very interesting. Your understanding of the different colors and palettes is very impressive. Thank you for posting!

  2. I have to say my favorite of out these colors is Cobalt Blue, but then again i do have a thing for blue in general lol

  3. Learning about colors is quite important if you're interested in art. I just use my intuition when drawing tho.

  4. All the colors I know are: black, white and the ones from rainbow.

  5. very useful and interesting, thanks!