Friday 14 December 2012


When artists talk about palettes, they mean one of two things: either the thing they mix their colours on, or the range of colours that they use in a painting.

This post is about the colours.

I have lots of colours, but I usually use the same few. My core colours for oils are: Phthalo Blue, Lemon Yellow, Rose Madder and Titanium White. This collection of colours may be minimal, but they are very flexible; many of the paintings on this blog were completed using them, sometimes with a supplementary colour or two.

These colours are shown - on a wooden palette - above right.

I find that greens - notoriously difficult to mix - are readily achievable with these colours - usually all four. Natural greens often tend towards brown, so the Rose Madder is essential.


I painted Grey Wethers and Black Bullocks (rght) entirely with these four colours.


Elsewhere, I frequently use Burnt Umber and Ultramarine as subsidiary colours. Mixed together, these last two make a good, quick dark (a lot quicker than mixing a similar shade from Phthalo Blue, Lemon Yellow and Rose Madder). If you add white to this dark, you get a nice range of greys.

I don't, generally, use black... unless I'm painting LEGO figures.

Then there were the poppies. It is possible to get a fairly bright red by adding Lemon Yellow to Rose Madder, but it is an awful lot easier to use Cadmium Red.

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