Monday, February 4, 2013

Palette Talk

Color, Color, Everywhere!

Our old garden, en  Brionnais, with a double rainbow

 Students are always asking me about my palette. It is largely unconventional, and doesn't contain cadmium colors, or phthalo colors. It certainly contains more colors than any self-respecting plein air painter would ever allow anywhere near her own palette.
In practice, I never have all these colors on my own, but I always have them near at hand. I've discovered that I'd rather be painting than be spending inordinate amounts of time taming shouting cadmium colors, or trying to get phthalo blue to behave. But that's just my choice. You may well enjoy trying to find a correspondence between Mother Nature and that electric cadmium orange in your paintbox. 

I don't.

Here's a link from a blog post (diatribe) last year on this subject.

The colors marked with an # are the basic colors I usually have on the palette. Those marked ### are colors that I require my students to have.

Palette (from left to right):

Old Holland Ivory Black Extra 074 #
Old Holland Mixed White No. 2 (A5) #
Maimeri Classico Brilliant Yellow Deep 076
Maimeri Puro Naples Yellow Reddish 106
Becker Naples Yellow Deep (605) (or the Remb. mixture below #)
Rembrandt Trans. Yellow Oxide 265
Blockx Pyrrolo Vermillion #
Winsor Newton Yellow Ochre 744 #
Rembrandt Brownish-Madder 324 ###
Rembrandt Burnt Umber 409 #
Rembrandt Ultramarine Deep 506 #
Winsor Newton Alizarin Crimson Perm. 004 #
Winsor Newton Cerulean Blue 137 #
Old Holland Ultramarine Violet B199
Old Holland Violet Gray 208
Blockx Mixed Green Light 463
Holbein Compose Green H284#
Holbein Green Gray H372#
Rembrandt Cinnabar Green Green Light 626 #
Old Holland Cadmium Green Light D44 #
Rembrandt Sap Green 623 #
Winsor Newton Prussian Green 540 ###

For tinting canvases, I use Old Holland transparent red oxide or Blockx Capucine yellow light (426)
Sometimes I don't tint. I also have used yellow ochre, transparent yellow oxide, and a mixture of ultramarine and black, as in this blog post (9 December 2012).
On the palette found on the workshop website, you'll see
Rembrandt Naples Yellow Deep (223) and Rembrandt Yellow Ochre
Light (228). Mixing these two, one can approximate the hard-to-get "Secret Yellow" (Becker 605 Naples Yellow deep)


  1. I'm surprised I'm the first to comment on this, you don't require students to use white? or yellow? I see a bit of cadmium and Prussian, but OK so I get the point, you have a lot of earthy colors, and I know how different makers are in their formulas, so what are your three biggest amounts? (I'm a bit terrified about changing my pallet,)

    1. My 'strong' yellow is the Beckers which isn't very Naples-y. There's Old Holland mixed white on there, too. Not sure what you mean by 'biggest amounts'. I expect my choices wouldn't really suit anyone else but I get asked the question a lot.

    2. Incidentally, I just checked and there have been 494 visits to that post, with nary a comment. Ah, the loneliness of the blogger.