23 April 2014

5-color limited palette


Recently this pill container ceased to be used for vitamins . . . which started me thinking of its use a travel watercolor palette. About the same time, I read an on-line interview with artist Joseph Zbukvic in which he mentioned John Singer Sargent's using only 5 colors (I forget the name of the blog this was found on; the link was found on Facebook).

Zbukvic remembered Sargent using cadmium red, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, and burnt sienna . . . plus a fifth color he could not remember. (Looking at Sargent's paintings as well as a bit of googling, I wonder if cerulean blue was the other color?)

The interviewer then asked which five colors Zbukvic would choose --- He chose cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cobalt turquoise, ultramarine, and burnt umber. So I began playing with these colors in an extra sketch pad.





I tend towards cooler, more transparent colors. So I tried putting together five colors I thought would make the cleanest mixes, staying away from "mud".

Many artists prefer burnt sienna over burnt umber; I have tried both and still prefer burnt umber. I know it can be mimicked by mixing burnt sienna and ultramarine, but a burnt sienna color can also be mixed by adding a bit of yellow and red to burnt umber. And I just like the rich, chocolatey color.






After a bit more playing, I decided on quinacridone red, quinacridone gold, cerulean blue, ultramarine, and burnt umber. The plastic pill box holds six, so next I played a bit on the left to see what that sixth color might be. Still not sure . . . I like the subtlety of using just the colors mixed on the color chart. Maybe leave the sixth space open for now.

17 comments:

  1. Love this post. I would go for a yellow as I use it a lot for mixing greens.the gold isn't light enough for me, but them I love sap green too.

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  2. I agree, the cool yellow would add the most possible mixes.

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  3. I truly appreciate you sharing so many wonderful ideas on your blog. Its so very inspiring here.

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  4. Thank you, Ophelia! I appreciate your taking time to visit and comment. :^)

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  5. I just found your blog and enjoy it very much! Do you use your limited palette very much?

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  6. Hello, Cathy!
    I usually have more colors at hand than I really need, so I find it good practise to go back to limited palettes on a regular basis. They are much lighter to carry with me!

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  7. Vicky I recall seeing your tiny paint charts on either Kate's Yahoo groups list or Flickr. I'm trying to learn how to make a color chart and I just get confused. Can you point me to where you learned to make these color charts for reference and if you still have your tiny ones posted, where I can see them? Thanks so much!!!! Dorothy Person

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    1. Hello, Dorothy! It's been a long time since I checked out Kate's Yahoo group! Forgot about it. :^)

      I closed my Flickr site soon after the massive re-haul. The new format loads too slow for my devices and makes my eyes hurt! (Seriously, they literally hurt to look at it -- that may be my cataracts). I had a group there full of color charts but it's now deleted.

      I was taught to make color charts in person by the guy who introduced me to watercolor a few years ago. He showed me to pencil a grid on watercolor paper, then put each of my palette colors across the top and down the left side. In the square where each of these pure colors meet, put a mixture of that color. If the chart is worked on a larger piece of paper, you can have more variation in the mix, with one corner leaning towards one of the 2 original colors and the opposite corner leaning towards the other color.

      Scroll down my blog page; in the right column near the bottom, there are some labels listed. Click on "color charts" and you'll find a few I've posted on this blog, though not nearly as many as I had on Flickr. I sometimes change the format a bit or mix them without a formal grid -- The main thing is to start mixing the colors you own and learn for yourself what to expect from them.

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  8. Vicky thank you so very much for your very helpful and speedy reply!! I will always remember your sweet little color charts that you posted on Flickr. I was awestruck by how you were able to do them and I forgot how to put together a color chart. I did realize to line the colors up horizontally and vertically, then I got stumped. But now it's clicked and I can see how it's done. I'm in Sketchbook Skool and Kate is one of the teachers and it is just a wonderful experience. All the teachers have such different techniques and one of the things I brought away from Kate's class was to make a color chart of my colors...but I want to make one for all my palettes. Thanks ever so much for pointing me in the right direction. Your palette posts are so very helpful!!!!

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    1. Oh how I envy you being in this semester's Sketchbook Skool! I have sketched many, many times with Kate, met and sketched with Liz Steel a few summers ago, and talked online with Brenda Swensen -- and the other teachers are all heroes of mine as well! I just didn't have the money for it this summer.

      Color charts are a great resource for referring back to as needed. The act of making them also helped me learn what colors work well together, which are "cool" or "warm", and which ones should never meet each other lest MUD occur! At our old home, I kept the best ones pinned to a bulletin board in my studio space. In our new home, my studio is in the cabin loft -- slanted ceilings forming the cabin's roof -- so I just taped them between the roof beams above my work table.

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  9. Your new home and studio must be wonderful!! sketchbook School is repeating I believe - I hope - I jumped ahead to the second semester "Seeing" without doing the first semester "beginning", because I wanted to be in Kate's class as well as Brenda Swenson's.

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  10. I'm on an IPad and I wasn't finished writing......anyway thank you again. I have a little book I keep my w/c pencil charts in, so I'm going to use that for my watercolor charts now. Thank you again for all your help!!!
    Dorothy

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  11. Our moving here is a "God-thing" --- Bill thought he would never leave Kansas, though our 4 grown children ALL moved to Texas. But his heart attack & surgery caused him to want to be closer to the kids . . . and here we are. Never dreamed of living in the country, let alone in a real log cabin! But Oh, how we love it! We are truly blessed.

    I woyld have skipped the 1st semester of Sketchbook Skool also, for the same reason as you. What awesome teachers! And I already "get" the basics of sketchbooks; what I need work on is the "seeing" part, knowing what to draw and how to capture it in a unique way. I have my own "studio" space, yet haven't yet practiced enough discipline to actually make art on a regular basis!

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  12. Have you decided on a 6th color yet? Quin red, does it operate as a warm and cool red? Love your blog! Thanks for your help!

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    1. Cathy, I chose Daniel Smith's buff titanium for the 6th color. It's like a "toasted marshmallow" white that is a hard color to replicate --- creamy off-whites. And I can mix it with other colors to make them more opaque for painting on toned papers.

      My quin. red is a very cool red (PV16 - actually a violet red pigment) from Daniel Smith. The same color name from Winsor & Newton is definitely a warm (orangy) red, not the same pigment at all. If I limit a set to only one red, I prefer a cool red. It mixes better purples and, if I want a brighter, warmer red, I just mix in the tiniest bit of yellow to warm it up.

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    2. Thanks for your time! My husband and I are thinking of moving from CA due to expense, but we are moving away from children and grandchildren. I hope we have such a positive result that you have had!

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    3. Moving away from children and grandchildren would be hard! But I totally get the reducing expenses thing (especially California! where we lived the first years of our marriage). We have been amazed at how much cheaper it is to live here in Texas. Best wishes to you!

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