Palettes

Here is my general. all-purpose palette. It has a good assortment of every color group and the core neutrals I always mix.

You can do just fine with fewer colors–three or even fewer from each group is certainly workable. When I was younger, I had a very limited palette because I had a very limited budget  Today I sometimes use fewer colors than those shown (I note the ones I often remove in the accompanying table), but this palette provides for my needs. Having said that, I frequently test drive new colors, which is why I reserve a space between the blues and greens.

This wooden palette is fairly large and would be uncomfortable to hold for long, but I never hold a palette. I keep palettes on a work table close-to-hand, and hold a rag or maul stick in my left hand.

Its natural brown color has deepened through use. I find its rich tone useful when creating mixtures.

I used to clean my palette every day but since I arrived at my standard color assortment and reapply the same colors in the same places, I only clean it when the piles get too high. After cleaning a palette, I apply a thin coat of linseed oil to it before reapplying the colors, as can be seen in the photo.

pal-hor2

The numbered colors are straight from the tube, and the manufacturers are listed below. Although I have preferences, I give each manufacturer’s products a fair test. So don’t interpret a color’s manufacturer as an endorsement. In addition, other colors can be substituted for almost every one listed. To give just one example, I sometimes substitute cadmium light or vermilion for cadmium scarlet. Almost each color is a representative selection from a collection of related colors.

Finally, the lettered paints are the mixtures I always use. Sometimes, especially if the painting is large, I will mix a lot more tones. Whenever I do, I use a separate gray-paper palette that fits in a plastic container between sessions. I describe the mixtures in the table and will discuss them further in a future post.

 

Color

Notes

1

Burnt umber (OH)

2

Caput mortuum violet (OH)

3

Cadmium purple extra (Bx) Removed if limiting reds

4

Burnt sienna (OH) Important color on my palette.

5

Cadmium red medium (BR)

6

Cadmium scarlet (WN)

7

Raw umber (CH)

8

Yellow ochre light (OH)

9

Cadmium yellow medium special (WN)

10

Naples yellow deep (OH) Removed if limiting yellows.

11

Winsor yellow (WN)

12

French ultramarine light extra (OH)

13

Cobalt blue (WN)

14

Cerulean blue (HB)

15

Scheveningen blue (OH) Removed if limiting blues.

16

Green umber (OH)

17

Viridian (WN)

18

Veronese green (WL)  Removed if limiting greens.

19

Permanent green light (WL)

20

Flake white (OH) Mixture of cremitz white and zinc. I prefer lead-based whites, and never use zinc alone. I never use titanium.

A

Burnt number & cobalt blue Warm dark

B

Caput mortuum & viridian Neutral dark red

C

Burnt sienna & cerulean blue Neutral middle red, useful for painting flesh

D

Burnt sienna & white I use burnt sienna for flesh, this is handy middle value

E

Ivory black & ultramarine blue Cold black (cool grays)

F

Ivory black & burnt umber Neutral black. Bedrock tone.

G

Ivory black & burnt umber & white Handy middle-value, neutral gray

H

Raw sienna & cerulean blue Neutral green

Key

BR—Blue Ridge
Bx—Blockx
CH–Chrvin
HB–Holbein
OH–Old Holland
WL—Williamsburg
WN—Winsor Newton

 

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