Sunday, July 22, 2012

Limited Palette Challenge Recap

This is a review of the five paintings that I have done for the FB limited palette challenge. Colors used were those used by Ken Auster, noted CA painter and incude: black, white, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and cad yellow light. 

What did I learn?
  •  I do not like painting limitations (does that make me an anarchist?)
  • Limited colors make for painting color unity and harmony 
  • Limited colors make it hard to mix a ‘wrong’ color
  • You can grab and run much quicker if you aren't hunting down that 'special' color
  • I LIKE more colors than this palette affords and felt stymied
  • You can mix some neat colors, but not all the colors that are in my personal palette
  • Ken is a genius to make this work over and over

Would I do this again?
  • I might, but I think I’d use other colors, such as cad red or napthol red in place of the   alizarin, a warm  mars black instead of the ivory black which is blue-cool
  • This palette, in my hands, results in more cool toned paintings
  • I would especially do this again if I felt that my pieces were having a color discord and     felt lost for a solution
  • See previous item, and I would add in one color at a time and do the whole thing again. Liken this logic to hunting for a food allergy and adding in one food at a time to judge the results. (What do you mean I can’t eat garlic???) One of the colors could just be personally toxic in a mix.

Challenge #1 Wind Canyon √Čtude 2 

Challenge #2 Fried Eggs In The Morning

Challenge #3 Fried Egg Trail

Challenge #4 Mimbres Glow
Challenge #5 Storm Over the Gila

What would I change?
  • The first thing would be the red as I said previously
  • Next I would change the yellow. I love Gamblin’s Indian yellow. Scott Gellately, product manager at Gamblin, turned me onto it at the Plein Air convention this year and I positively love it, how it is transparent and mixes just beautifully. It’s become one of my ‘go to’ colors.
  • I would have to have another blue – it’s one of my absolutely favorite colors, as evidenced by the bins of blues in my studio. Despite the cost, cerulean blue is becoming one of my favorites. This is one pigment where the hue version of this paint actually tints much stronger than the original color. But the weakened tinting strength is a real plus in the orignal color.

Overall, I learned, that I can be inventive within limited means, that schlepping half the paint to a site is preferable to carting the whole studio. I also like the idea of doing more than one painting with the same imposed conditions.  I learned that the concept of a limited palette can be freeing and allow you to explore mixes you might never have. Finally, I can try my own personal limited palette and maybe find a better fit for my painting preferences. 

Thanks to Candy Crawford Day on Facebook for getting the ball rolling and putting up the challenge. I might never have done this otherwise.  So, do you have a favorite?
Fav quote:  "Many people die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five." (Benjamin Franklin)


  1. This is an interesting overview and good to see the paintings together. I like to work with limited palettes but would really struggle to work with someone else's limited palette. For instance the alizarin crimson would have had me in a flat spin as the reddest red I normally use is burnt sienna. You have a lot of self discipline to have knuckled down to five paintings with it. Mimbres Glow is my fave for the tonal and temperature contrasts - it's very striking. It's always interesting how inventive we have to be with imposed limitations and I'm interested to see where this will lead next for you as you choose the colours.

  2. Thanks so much Lisa. It's nice to have another painter's input. I did find it limiting, and in fact did a 'throw in the whole palette' approach to my new studio piece of Rio Chama in New Mexico. I do intend to go back to this palette and add in one color at a time and do a couple of pieces before I decide if is is a 'keeper' or not. It's a really good exercise to see if you are buying, taking and carrying pigments that you do not really need or use.
    Thanks for following along. I enjoy the visit.