Limited palette

Tending the Beach
14 x 11
This study was done in a limited palette of perylene black, cad yellow deep and alizarin permanent plus titanium white.  Unlike the Zorn palette (yellow ochre, vermillion, ivory black and white), this palette uses high chroma versions of black, yellow and red.  The black, though it has a definite green bias, acts as a blue.

Our brains like complimentary colours and will create them for us given a bit of encouragement.  The orange in the sand and on the boy's torso and cheek are enough to allow the viewer to interpret the black and white mixture as blue, the compliment of orange.  If an actual blue were placed into this picture it would relegate this mixture to plain old cool grey.  Here's a piece of paint cropped inexpertly from the child's hoe.  Out of context, it looks less like something that you'd call blue, although, if asked to mix it, you'd probably start with a blue and diminish its chroma with complimentary orange and some white.

Limited palette work sharpens my painting skills; I do it when I feel I've become too colour dependent. Since value and temperature are the most important elements of these paintings, I always go back to the full palette refreshed; grateful for all those lovely colours, but aware that I can be quite content with much less.

Happy painting!


Inspiring piece! I am so glad to have found your work!
Thank you, Susan!
I enjoyed browsing your blog as well. Love the cows and the connection with nature you paint.