Tips on Oil Painting - Basic Palette

By: Remi Engels

Tips on Oil Painting - Basic Palette

In this article I will detail the tube colors of a starter palette for beginning artists. These are in fact the colors I personally use most often.

Here is the proposed 6-color palette:

1. Lemon Yellow
2. Cadmium Yellow
3. Cadmium Red
4. Permanent Rose (Alizarin Crimson)
5. French Ultramarine
6. Phthalo Blue
7. Titanium White
8. Ivory Black

Note that White and Black are generally not classified as colors.

A color is often known by different names depending on the manufacturer. For example, Permanent Rose is more or less the same as Alizarin Crimson.

The above palette has the capacity to produce very clean secondary colors, i.e., colors that are a mixture of just two tube colors.

Notice that there are two versions of each primary color (yellow, red, and blue). One is a cool version (i.e., leaning towards the blues and greens) and the other is a warm version (i.e., leaning towards the reds and yellows).

I recommend using this simple palette for quite a while before adding other tube colors. First learn to completely understand how the six colors together with black and white interact in their numerous mixtures.

Here are some of the more important properties of the palette colors:

* Lemon Yellow - Lemon Yellow is a cool, greenish leaning, and opaque yellow. Opaque means solid or not-transparent. This yellow is a medium-to-slow drier with medium to low tinting strength. Low tinting strength means that you need to add a lot of this paint to see its effect in a mixture. Its greenish bias makes it an ideal yellow to use with Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) to produce very clean secondary greens.

* Cadmium Yellow - Cadmium Yellow is a warm, orange leaning, and opaque yellow. This yellow is a medium-to-slow drier and has a high tinting strength. Its orange bias makes it an ideal yellow to use with Cadmium Red to produce very clean secondary oranges.

* Cadmium Red - Cadmium Red is a warm, orange leaning, and opaque red. This red is a slow drier and has a high tinting strength. Its orange bias makes it an ideal red to use with Cadmium Yellow to produce very clean secondary oranges.

* Permanent Rose - Permanent Rose is a cool, violet leaning, and transparent red. This red is a medium-to-slow drier and has a medium tinting strength. Its violet bias makes it an ideal red to use with French Ultramarine to produce very clean secondary violet.

* French Ultramarine - French Ultramarine is a warm, violet leaning, and semi-transparent blue. This blue is a slow drier and has a high tinting strength. Its violet bias makes it an ideal blue to use with Permanent Rose to produce very clean secondary violets.

* Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) - Phthalo Blue is a cool, green leaning, and transparent blue. This blue is a medium-to-slow drier and has a very high tinting strength. Its green bias makes it an ideal blue to use with Lemon Yellow to produce very clean secondary greens.

* Titanium White - Titanium White is an opaque white and covers up just about any color. There are other whites such as Flake White and Zinc White. As a beginning artist you may want to avoid using Zinc White because it tends to crack when applied thickly.

* Ivory Black - Ivory Black is the cleanest of all the tube blacks and is extremely constructive in lots of mixtures. Other tube blacks include Lamp Black and Mars Black.

This simple palette is amazingly versatile and many minimal-minded professionals use nothing else. Because there are so few tube colors involved, becoming an expert in this palette is fairly easy.

About the Author:
Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert teacher. Check out his Pencil Portrait Course.


The Essentials of Oil Painting- The Color Palette



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