The other day, someone asked me why I am partial to certain colours. A question I could not answer. But it got me to think about my palette. I mix colours so much that I have no idea how the final product comes about! I just rely on what feels most convenient and natural to me.
I learned a lot of my colour mixing skills by working with a limited palette. That meant that I was forced to experiment on the painting itself. I used nothing but straight out-of-the-tube colours, no mixing on the palette, and if any mixing happened, it was done visually on the canvas. Layering and mixing taught me how they work and interact.The values these colours created taught me to make harmonies, even if they did not correspond in real life.
I still like to play around with a limited palette. It helps keep painting skills fresh and forces me to concentrate on values and composition. I don’t pre-mix and so I don’t end up with the same combination twice! That said, I love my browns and yellows. My first colour is usually Yellow Ochre. I also often use Burnt Umber, Red Umber and Raw Umber with a touch of titanium White.
What works for me will most likely not work for someone else. Every artist will have their own preferred palette – which is usually based on their style, subject matter, inspiration and practicality.
You may already have your own signature palette, but remember sometimes it is fun to go back to basics and think about new ways of using colours in your work. Try it.
Let me know in the comments – What colours make up your pallete?