Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Limited Palette

As promised last week I had decided that I needed to give some thought to a number of issues relating to my plein air practice. Preparing properly ensuring that I had enough paint mixed needed to be addressed as well as the sequence of applying paint. Having made up my mind to do it I selected a demonstration piece from a Kevin MacPherson book as the vehicle to pull some of these ideas together.

The approach adopted required a number of things: limited palette, definite sequence of activity and gradual refinement.

The palette advised consisted of Chromatic Black, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White. Prior to starting I prepared my palette by creating a whole series of secondaries and adding varying amounts of white to them so that I produced the best greens, oranges and purples that were possible. Having laid these out it became easier to see where the painting might go. After toning the canvas and sketching the outline I blocked in the shadows and put in the darkest dark and lightest light. These were the values against which all other tones would be judged. After that it was a case of putting in the main colour notes. Then, working all over the canvas, the colours and shapes were refined and adjusted.

Whilst not totally successful in terms if the finished piece I found this to be a real learning experience that will inform my future practice. Following the whole sequence made it easier to make judgements during painting, in particular having created the palette of colours in sufficient quantities prior to starting. My next project will involve using the 'mud' left on the palette to underpin the creation of the palette that I use.

MacPherson Demonstration - Oil on canvas board 12" x 10"


José said...


This work shows a good work in terms of values and a reliable knowledge of colour.

Kind regards,


Mick Carney said...

Jose - Thanks for visiting and the kind comment.