12x12 acrylic on stretched canvas
I have been doing some experimenting with color, using limited palettes. I want to find a color scheme that works best for the urban images I like to paint. I tried the Zorn palette with a sunny city scene, and found it very limiting. So then I thought I would do the opposite, and try a picture in acrylics, using several different colors. I like to use acrylics from time to time...I like the fast drying time, the glazing one can do almost immediately, and the quick changes that can be made.
I would love to hear your opinion about your choice of color. Do you always use the same colors? Do you change for different types of images? Do you like a limited palette or a wide variety of colors? Your information will help me in my quest to find out how different color palettes influence the look of a painting. Thanks!
oh i really like the 'wetness' of this painting Catherine and the brushwork is lucious -it is drenched with the feel of april in the city
what a great place that you are in now with your work -in that you don't have to worry about your compositions because you always nail them, and you certainly don't have to worry about values as you nail them, as you nail interesting atmouspheres and edges-
which frees you up to play with different colours..afraid i can't give you advice on that as experimenting re pallet is what i love about painting -i like to go in with a plan ie limiting/simplifying my pallet and do have a favourite, but i give myself permission to play too-i do change my base pallet according to the seasons and this time of year i can't live without my cadmium yellow light, indian yellow, cadmium orange, rose madder, cadmium red, ultramarine and thalo blue
Dear Catherine, I like both the sharp light in your top painting and the muted effects of the oil sketch which is great on atmosphere.
I am all for the limited palette. In watercolours I only ever used Raw Umber, Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow and Viridian Green. I hated using green and later worked without it. A clean black was mixed with the brown and blue.
In oils and acrylic I would love to experiment with your Zorn palette. As it is at the moment I never use any sharp red, yellow, green or blue. I prefer staying with Prussian Blue and Yellow Ocre and Indian Red plus white.
sorry - you already know that i am not helpful with the subject of color. however, i especially love the way you handle color as show in the acrylic painting. (i agree with the comment above.) i love how you take a somewhat muted palette and then have those 'surprise' touches of color that 'pop' out of the canvas. the muted colors of the building and atmosphere is like dinner and the touches of red and yellow is like desert - you like to look at them both. i think it's amazing what you can do with acrylic. i know it doesn't help but maybe i will learn something when you have found your answer.
This from a writer, thus outside your question’s frame. Your interest in using limited or consciously-chosen palettes suggests your innate grasp of art. Limitation intensifies the quality of art. I stood once for twenty minutes outside a hotel waiting for someone. I stared at a statue and wondered why I didn’t like it. The artist had used metal to make a form nature could never build. The form therefore lacked something basic—and exaggerated some personal bravado, eccentricity, or self-display that didn’t fit into this scene.
I have been following your blog for a couple months now and I love your cityscapes! I find I prefer the paintings where you have used a more extended palette. In most cases, they appear more realistic to me than the paintings you have done with the Zorn palette. As you know, anytime you mix colors the resultant mixture is duller than either of the two original colors. Mixing colors from a limited palette can create a muddy looking painting, and the colors of real life are vivid even in the rain! I love your paintings "Richmond Street Snow Banks," and "James Street Showers" and I think whatever palette you used here worked perfectly to portray light, atmosphere, and shadow. I do, however, like your recent painting, the oil sketch of Queen Street, done with the Zorn palette. The way you have mixed the colors to portray the light really evokes early morning or late evening lighting. I think in this case the Zorn palette was really effective. Less effective, I think, are your paintings "Zorn Palette Landscape" and "Stone House in Greensville." I think the palette is just too dreary. The added colors you used in "Taxis at the Go Station" gives this painting so much more life in my opinion.
As an artist who paints mostly landscapes, I never use a limited palette. I prefer the vividness that I get from the pure pigments straight out of the tube. That is not to say that I never mix colors--I love mixing colors. But for me, it is important to have pure green, orange, and violet pigments to work with. You can check out some of my work here:
Hi Catherine, I tend to limit my palette of colour choices, for a few reasons, I use mainly acrylics and because of the drying time I find I have to remix a colour often and I have a short memory and my not remember the exact formula so it's just easier for me, it also helps with continuity and harmony of the piece. Most of the time I choose my colors before I start to paint and I may not use the same ones from one painting to the next.
Hope this helps.
I do like all your paintings. They tend to have limited palettes, which make them very strong. The Toronto Zorn palette is very cool. I'm going to check out what that means.
I love the 'surprise' colors - the yellows, oranges and reds you have used amid the grays. These arrest the attention of the viewer for sure!
As for my palette, I try to stick to the same colors so that I get an identity of my own but then I also add new colors if the subject demands.
I like the colors>
I use a palette with 2 yellows 2 reds and 2 blues ... a warm and cool of each and white...
And then I add in other colors when I feel like it... LOL.
Saying they're both beautiful, doesn't help... but they are. The Queen street sketch does seem to have a kind of timeless quality, but the acrylic street scene is more of what I associate with you, as a contemporary painter of something very now and current. I find myself letting the subject dictate the color scheme, though I always use the same palette. It's all interesting to contemplate and keep considering.
Catherine your work and your blog is really wonderful. Capturing light appears to be your forte. Great work.
Dear CA Jeffrey,
I like all of them. I guess I approach it from poetry: the language may be slang or learned, the imagery coarse or sublime... or a mixture.
I may say, however, that your streets are different from your harbors, marinas, and houses in the snow (mine)...
your streets are infinite and they go on without end.
The rains are endless, with bumbershoots and galoshes and macintoshes stuck behind the doors in Rosedale Park...
Thanks everyone for your wonderful insightful comments. I want to ask more questions about your color choices, but will leave that for another time.
Montag, as usual, your words are wonderfully poetic and descriptive. Bumbershoots??!!
Infinite Rain and Drizzle need Umbrellas with Fortitude!!
I love the bright colors in this, I think acrylic always seems brighter to me. It's great to see your experiments, it gives me the push to think about this. Something I desperately need to do.
All your work is great, but I am drawn to the oil sketch with the Zorn palette, of the two examples. Of course that probably has more to do with the backlighting than anything else.
I use more or less the same palette, adding new colors that I try out, if they become favorites. No rhyme or reason, just what appeals to me. So, I am no help what so ever!
Hi Catherine, I've been meaning to comment but have been falling behind! The Zorn palette certainly does create some dramatic moods but I have to say my recent favourites are: Richmond St. Snowbank, Toronto Streetcar, Orange and Blue and March Commute. They are filled with subtle and sophisticated colour yet have some bright points that sparkle. You are a beautiful painter!
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