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Artsnip 6 - Learning Colour With a Limited Palette


How many of you are working with a limited palette?

With a limited palette you can focus on a few colours and learn them very well vs having limited knowledge of a whole pile of colours and the uncertainty that comes with a large selection of colour that you don’t completely understand.

In student Maki’s portrait copy of master artist David Leffel and Ingrid’s still life they are using the limited palette. Notice that Maki’s incredible painting contains a lot of brown earthy colours yet the limited palette doesn’t include brown. And Ingrid’s ethereal transparent bottle and glowing lemon are created using the same versatile palette.

There are numerous limited palettes but the palette we use in my Fundamentals class in Leduc and my studio class is based on a mix of warm and cool colours:

warm yellow - cadmium yellow

cool yellow - cadmium yellow light or lemon yellow

warm earthy yellow - yellow ochre

warm red - cad red light

optional colour - cool red - quinacridone rose (or permanent rose) (I do not keep this on my palette unless I am painting something really pure pink like certain flowers)

cool red - alizarin crimson

*warm - pthalo blue (necessary for turquoise) (some people see this blue as cool)

*cool - ultramarine blue (some people see this blue as warm)

titanium white

My students who are using this palette are finding that their colour is greatly improved. Try it, it takes some practice but the results are fantastic.

* if you want to enjoy a great debate on which blue is warm and which is cool between ultramarine and pthalo just go online, lots of fun debate and opportunity to understand colour from the perspective of many artists. http://sharonhicksfineart.com/blog/57475/warm-or-cool-ultramarine-blue-vs-thalo-blue-


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