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Lesson 38

Chapter 17 of "The Way To Happiness" deals with Competence. I've found that too many limit their own progress as an artist with the concept that they "haven't got the talent." 90% of being a good professional artist is about looking for yourself, learning (including good study habits), and practicing what you have learned to become Competent. If you are interested in a free copy of "The Way to Happiness", please email me for one.
Interested in other lessons?

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Some discussion about your color palette choices

I have long been an advocate of the use of a "limited palette", as those of you who have studied with me know.

The colors I recommend are covered on the "recommended supplies" page on my website:

An even more limited palette would be one red, one blue, one yellow, and white. Some "Plein Aire painters", to keep their kit light, work with only these, and may choose cadmium red medium, ultramarine blue, and cadmium yellow medium and titanium white. I have done some limited palette paintings using a similar palette and I consider this type of painting a sort of snobbish aesthete approach.

However, limiting to one cool and warm red, yellow and blue, plus white and one brown has several advantages.

In the first place, you don't empty your pocketbook on the purchase of colors. (I have sometimes expressed that the only people who make real money from art - aside from the superstars - are the art suppliers!)

In the second, the basic palette gives you enough colors to allow you to mix just about any color you wish. An example of color-mixing is shown in the picture below and you can do the whole color-mixing exercise by going to the lesson at http://www.blehert.com/lessons/lesson15.html.

Currently, I am taking a portrait painting course with Joe Trigiani at the Loudoun Academy. He recommends a much more extensive palette. His supply list can be found at: http://www.loudounacademy.org/supplylisttrigianipaint.html.

Joe says: I have all of the following colors in my selection of paints. Given that no two people have the exact same flesh tone it is important to have these colors for modification. All colors are Gamblin brand except where noted.

Soft Mixing White (Winsor Newton), Hansa Yellow Deep, Naples Yellow Hue, Yellow Ochre, Napthol Scarlet, Quinaridone Red, Alizarin Crimson, Indian Red (Winsor Newton), Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna (Winsor Newton), Raw Umber, Transparent Earth Orange, Permanent Green Light, Phthalo Green, Dioxazine Purple, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Phthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Ivory Black.

However, for the first lesson, he laid out only the following paints on his palette:

Soft mixing white, naples yellow, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, napthol crimson, Indian Red, Alizarin Crimson, dioxizine purple, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and Van Dyke Brown.

I should say that, for those of you are beginners, I DON'T recommend using all these colors. Joe uses them to blend into two "base colors" that he mixes up before starting to paint the model, and which he varies based on the color of the model's skin.

These are basically:

(1). a light skin tone, made from white, cad yellow, yellow ochre, and napthol crimson. (You can use Cadmium Red medium instead of Napthol Crimson.)

(2). A shadow flesh, made from the light skin tone above but adding more Nathol Crimson, More Indian Red, dioxizine purple, and ultramarine blue.

Now, a much simpler formula for making (Caucasian) flesh tone is yellow ochre, cadmium red, and white with the very tiniest hint of ultramarine blue. Increase the Ultramarine blue for the shodow tone. Of course, this is a more generic "flesh" tone, but you can vary it by adding a little alizarin crimson (brighter), phthalo blue (green undertones.)

Here is a picture of the palette. Please note that I am left handed so it's backwards for you right-handers.

Here is a picture of the painting in progress and a detail showing how the paint is laid on as discrete strokes:


Last Updated: December 10, 2005