Oil Painting: Using a Limited Palette

What is a limited palette?

Have you ever watched an oil painter who squeezed out paint from their never ending supply or tubes? With all of the colors available to the modern artist, it can be very tempting to do the same. However, many artists like to concentrate on a few select colors. This is referred to as a limited palette.

This type of palette consist of the basic primary color including blue, yellow and red. You will also want to include a white and black for mixing purposes. The specific tube of each color you choose will change your palette slightly. By using these three colors, along with black and white, you can mix any color imaginable. Working with a limited palette will improve your color mixing skills and overall ability as an artist. Who knows? You might even fall in love with painting in this manner.

Tips for Using a Limited Palette

When you first experiment with a limited palette, you may find yourself lost. This is a natural reaction. Simply calm down and remember the basics. Blue and yellow will mix to green and so one and so forth. The key to successfully painting with a limited palette is having patience. Once you beginning picking up the various color mixtures, you'll memorize them making the process much easier.

When mixing colors from the primaries, you should always start by placing your lightest color down first and then mixing into it. For instance, to mix a green, place a moderate amount of yellow on your palette and begin adding blue. Continue adding a small amount of blue until you reach the specific green you're looking for. You can also warm up the green a little by adding a little red, change the color's value by adding white or darken the color with a little bit of black.

Over time and with a little practice, you'll begin to see the different possibilities of using this type of palette. When you do this, you'll understand that using a limited palette does not limit your colors at all. They're all right there. You just need to mix them.

Benefits of a Limited Palette

I can not preach it enough. Painting with a limited number of colors is an exceptional method of learning to mix colors. You'll be forced to learn to mix colors successfully by painting with a limited number of colors.

Experienced oil painters like to use a limited palette because it allows them to keep their paintings harmonic. Since all of your colors are creating using just the three primaries, your finished painting will always display perfect harmony.



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