I recently had some one ask me what colors I paint with; and I thought, “Hey, I should blog about that!” This thick piece of glass with the edges rounded off is my palette, and the pigments are from left to right: titanium white, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow deep, yellow ochre, viridian, manganese blue hue, cobalt blue, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, terra rosa, and the blue blob floating above alizarin is some really old french ultramarine that I should just scrape off.
I paint with all Winsor Newton artist oil colors except for titanium white and yellow ochre. I got used to the Winton student grade in school; and when I tried upgrading to the artists oil color, I didn’t like how different the colors and textures were.
I have 3 yellows, 1 green, 3 blues, and 3 reds on my palette. Yellow ochre, cadmium yellow deep, and cadmium yellow light are the yellows; I use cad yellow light pretty much just when the other yellows aren’t giving me what I want which doesn’t happen often. Viridian is my green; I also like to mix ochre and cobalt for green. Manganese blue hue, cobalt blue, and french ultramarine are my blues; although I haven’t used ultramarine in a really long time. I really like the manganese for sky and ocean blues and skin tones; it leans toward yellow and saves me time when I’m mixing lights and mid tones. Because manganese is a more transparent than opaque pigment, I usually need to use cobalt for the darkest shadows in the skin tones. I’m particularly fond of mixing a touch of alizarin and cad yellow deep with manganese for sky and ocean blues and purples because it gives them a “magical” feel. Cadmium red medium, alizarin crimson, and terra rosa are my reds. Cad red is warmer, alizarin is cooler, and terra rosa is my earth tone red. I’ve also gotten in the habit of mixing cobalt, cad red, and yellow ochre for dark browns, particularly in hair.
Does it seem amazing that artist’s can create so much color magic with these few colors? With the help of some color theory basics the possibilities can appear practically endless!