Ugly colors

There are no ugly colors. This is a bit of conventional studio wisdom that is actually true.

When I was starting out, I used a limited palette out of necessity. My palette had a lot of ochres, browns, and earth colors–the cheap paints.

Limited palette users quickly learn that you can paint almost anything with just 6-8 paints. “Almost anything.” There are limits due to the pigments used to create paint. Some pigments are transparent which limits their range. Earth green is an example of transparent paint. Some pigments are opaque which can also limit their range. Many cadmium-based paints fall into this category.

Paint isn’t light. Mixing all light colors produces, well, light. Mixing all paint colors produces mud.

It turns out that many pigments have interesting or unique characteristics. This is one of the reasons that I no longer employ a limited palette. I use a lot of colors now but I still use a lot of earth colors.

I recently acquired a tube of brown ochre from Blockx. I love it and used it today in the background of this painting, Oh no!. Brown, green, and purple.

Oh no! is far from finished.

Oh no!

I didn’t order the brown ochre. My recent small order from Blick included a tube of ivory black, a tube of burnt sienna, and 2 other items. Blick forgot the black tube and instead of Blockx burnt sienna, sent the brown ochre. Come on Blick! 2 of 4 –50%–items wrong.

I decided to try the brown ochre and–boy!–am I glad I did. Since I stopped using Old Holland, I order Blockx whenever I want a high-end paint. The prices for the earth colors are modest even when ordering the expensive brands like Blockx.

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