Thursday, November 10, 2016

Limited Palette As A Strategy

Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (1860-1920), produced many amazing paintings using a limited palette of colors*.  Having a limited selection of colors can simplify mixtures and improve color harmony within a painting.  I'll show you how I sometimes employ it as a strategy to achieve a desired outcome.

While I generally have a warm and cool of each primary plus white on my palette, from time-to-time a subject calls for a constraint of color choices.  For example, my vision for the painting below was to create a sense of the soft, cool, atmospheric conditions we see just after sunset in November, here in Colorado.  The sky is colorful but not too saturated and the overall feeling calls for values in the middle of the value range, not letting areas get too light or dark.  So, starting with a red, yellow and blue, I further constrained my options by tinting each with white to get a lighter, less saturated version from which I could no longer mix a dark, dark or a highly saturated color.  These three muted primaries + white then became the palette from which I painted "November Sky".

Scott Ruthven
November Sky
10"x8" | Oil
This painting is available for purchase here

My muted three primaries

 *Here's a link to a great article on James Gurney's blog about the Zorn Palette.

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