Limiting your palette

Apr 12, 2020

With lockdown now in place in the UK it's great to see that a lot of our regular art suppliers are still able to ship out new supplies but understandably this is taking a little longer. Do keep supporting those business but whilst you are waiting for your new supplies take a look at what you already have in your paint box. 

I am a sucker for having a variety of oil colours... I really cannot get enough of those turquoises and blues! But in reality you only need a few colours.

In my workshops I have people limiting their palettes to try and simplify things, to avoid overthinking. With oil and cold wax we can get a little carried away with creating textures and when we start to add in a range of colours then paintings can start to get a little busy.

So what do I mean by limiting your palette? It's about limiting our colour choices. Ideal at this point in time if you can't get hold of your usual colours! 

So try limiting your palette to 4 colours:

  1. A white
  2. A dark colour: indigo, paynes grey, burnt umber or black
  3. A warm colour: orange, Indian yellow, red, magenta, pink
  4. A cool colour: turquoise, green, blue

Make sure at least one is a translucent colour and that you have some nice bright colours in there.

Paula Dunn Artist - Limiting your palette

I will take a little bit of each colour and mix them together to create a grey or a beige / brown. I now have 5 colours. You can keep doing this mixing your colours, more of one than the other to create a range of colours.

Paula Dunn Artist - Limiting your palette

A lot of my mixing happens on the painting but as you can see you only need a few colours to create a painting with a wide range of colours.

Paula Dunn Artist - Limiting your palette

The translucent colours will also help create depth to your painting.

Paula Dunn Artist - Limiting your palette

So have a rummage through your paint boxes and give this a go!

Paula Dunn Artist - Limiting your palette

This painting was created on Arches Huille paper. If you don't have any, or can't get hold of any, watercolour paper or other papers are fine so long as you gesso them. Alternatively use canvas board, or wooden boards.

Whether you are an acrylic painter or oil painter, this is a great exercise when you have limited materials to hand.

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