Every so often, I’ll do a palette post. Mine changes often. Some colors are always there, like Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, but a lot will change periodically. Right now, I seem to be adding a bunch of neutral and darks to my palette. Also, 18 colors is a lot… I might cut some of them out and put in some full pans of my most-used colors.
Below is my palette, as of now. A bunch of these colors are newish to my standard palette. More often than not, I’m surprised by the colors that end up finding a place in my palette. So many of these are recommended by friends and teachers.
Like Phthalo Green, a color I couldn’t work with for years and then a workshop with Shari Blaukopf changed my mind about it. If there’s to be just one green in my palette, this would be it. As long as I remember not to use it outside of mixes, it’s a magical color.
Carbazole Violet, like Phthalo Green, will take over your whole painting if you’re not careful. But I love it in dark mixes, it keeps shadows mysterious instead of just plain dark. Thank you, Tom Hoffmann, that’s one color I’d never seen in a palette before a workshop with you.
Oh, and Transparent Pyrrol Orange too!
Nickel Azo Yellow, Potter’s Pink and Schminke Transparent Orange are here via Liz Steel‘s recommendation. And even though the pigment in both these oranges mentioned above might be the same, they look different enough to me that I want them both: the Pyrrol Orange is a lovely burnt orange and the Schminke is that exact shade you need if you like painting at construction sites (I do!). Besides, I can never have too much orange in my palette.
Buff Titanium and Neutral Tint are colors I’m trying because Marc Holmes does super interesting stuff with them, and I really need some neutrals in my work to calm it down, every once in a while.
And then there’s colors like Cobalt Turquoise and Olive Green that I have full tubes of and don’t want to waste, but they’ll be replaced when I’m done with those tubes. Cobalt Turquoise Light or Cobalt Teal Blue will replace the Cobalt Turquoise. Which one? I don’t know, I love the color of the Cobalt Teal Blue from Daniel Smith more, but it runs all over my palette because I use my paints so wet. Cobalt Turquoise Light from Winsor & Newton is more reliable in how it behaves. I might have to make the sensible choice on this one. Green Gold or Sap Green will replace the Olive Green.
You can see that this isn’t a very logical way to build a palette, but it works for me. And if you look at that left side of the palette, it’s not a huge stretch to see my split primaries there. I’m also liking the idea of leaving that one space open. It makes it feel like it isn’t totally set, like I could chance on a color I love and add it in without having to figure which color to replace.
I could discuss palettes and paints forever (and it’s fun!) but I feel like I could paint with pretty much any set of artist grade colors if it included some version of the left row of my palette and a quick neutralizer, like Burnt Sienna.
How do you build your palette? What’s in it? What are colors you can’t live without?
If you’re looking to build a palette, and don’t quite subscribe to my “add what you love” view, then here’s a few links to artists who talk about what’s in their palette and why:
If you’re overwhelmed and confused, just pick a palette , use it for a while and modify as you go. Happy Painting!