What Lorraine has learned is that there are so many colours we can get from just 6 primaries and she has the proof in a wonderful series of paintings she has produced from that limited palette... so is that the path I should take? I do already use a limited palette for most of my paintings using a max of 6 and probably more often 3 or 4 but whenever I read anything like this it makes me think am I doing it wrong if I want to use any colour that speaks to me for a particular subject?
I did a workshop yesterday which also prompted this blog and I was trying to explain how I came to use certain colours. The point is I don't have to actually see the colours in an image, I make them up and use whatever I think look good together.
As many of you will know I use my colour planets to work out what colours I might use in any particular painting and I often get a feel for which colours might suit a particular subject. So as you may remember when I did this painting of Holly
The problem I would have with using a limited number of primaries now is that I could never have got this look without the particular colours I have used.. I could never mix colours which come remotely close to either the opera rose or the translucent orange.. both colours have properties which are unique to them.
I also like bought purples, they give me a far richer colour than I can get with any mix that I have tried so far, one of my other bought "No, No's" is Schmincke May Green, it is an opaque colour but I like the way it mixes with UB to give a rich dark green. I also like Winsor and Newton Green Gold which like Quinacridone gold has properties I couldn't mix using any blue and yellow primary.
I am a complete walkover when someone says "Oooh have you tried this colour or that" and find I use a lot more than 6 primaries a lot of the time (though not in the same painting). I have listed the colours I have in my palette here and when I have a new subject I am always looking for a new, individual and original combination which I maybe haven't tried before and that is actually part of the fun and challenge for me, I don't always take too much notice of what I see I just decide on some possibles, check how they work together then go with them in the painting.
I do have my favourites of course for example, I prefer burnt sienna to light red in most instances (though I like light red for buildings) and though I love Quin gold I often decide I prefer raw sienna when I actually try them out in a planet. I use both perm rose and Aliz crimson and a host of blues though I probably use UB the most.... I have a much bigger selection of the cooler blues and use a variety of them but UB is the main warm blue I use. However I really love using the other colours and am not terribly loyal to any... I use what I think will create something a bit different while still capturing the essence of something. . I then try and concentrate on painting the right tones using the colours I have chosen and that is what seems to work for me... well some of the time!!
Speaking of tones, I have heard people talk about whether painters are colourists or tonalists and the more I think about it the more I think it is not at all useful to put labels on people......colour is a very important part of my work (it is what most people comment on and seems to be part of my style) and I would feel quite paralysed if I had to rely on just a few colours, but I always choose colours which will give me a good tonal range so that both areas are equally important in my work and am not sure my paintings would work as well if I didn't also have the right tonal values.
As I reflect on the time I have been trying to improve my skills in painting I have spent a lot of time learning about colour. I used to use a more basic palette with the more realistic colours but I also knew that if I wanted to create something a bit more individual I had to choose attractive colour schemes which may or may not represent real life but would create a pleasing piece with colour harmonising around the painting, I realised that it is form,shape and tone which will describe a subject not it's colour and so colour can be just what I want it to be, does that make me a colour flirt? I think so......and am delighted to be one!!! To be able to choose whatever colour I like whenever I like is how I like to paint...... I do think you need to have done a bit of the ground work with colour first as Lorraine's tutor was advising and I am quite certain there is such a lot to be learned from doing that so that you have an understanding of what you are looking for......brings me back to my first question as to whether I should actually try doing it, and I think I probably have done it without maybe realising it at the time.... I worked for a long time with my 6 or 8 primaries, maybe because that was all I had but I also knew that it helped to stick to a limited palette for lots of reasons and something I still do now albeit with a much wider range of options.
So how many of you out there are colour flirts and what do you think about using a limited palette? Would be interested to hear your views......