Today’s Creative Corner will be useful to both the young budding artist, as well as the more mature person newly exploring the world of oil painting.
Yet, for some reason, this particular artist tip seems to resonate more with the younger audience. Perhaps it’s because they’re not yet set in their ways, or still in learning mode, but it’s been my experience that children grasp the importance of properly setting up your oil painting palette much more than the majority of the adults I’ve taught!
Why is it so important to set up your palette a certain way? I’ll give you three good reasons.
1. Work flow.
It is both basic, and essential for creating a smooth work flow, to free up your mind to problem solve the real issues on your canvas, instead of trying to figure out “where’d I put the pthalo blue?”!
2. Color Mixing
While it won’t automatically teach you HOW to mix your paints properly, it will eventually become second nature to you where each color lives on your palette. Thus making it easier to mix your paints when you don’t question which color is where.
3. Right Approach – Dark to Light
It also helps you take the right approach. When painting in oils, you should typically start from dark to light. Often an amateur giveaway is moving into your lights too soon, which consequently results in a muddy mess. Once white is added into an area that really should be dark you can’t mix away the light. You would need to either scrape it off with a palette knife, or wait till the layers of paint dry so you can start with a fresh dark.
How do I properly set up my palette? From Dark to Light.
First, let me note that we are talking specifically about OIL PAINTING. Why is this important? Because, when dealing with other mediums, such as watercolor you may in fact work opposite, from light to dark. But with oils, you work from dark to light, leaving the highlights often for the final, topmost strokes.
Set up your palette with your Dark colors on the left, transitioning over to your light colors on the right. (just like you read)
The following is my recommendation for beginners.
Note, these colors can vary depending on artists pigment preferences, and subject matter. This is just one way you can start.
(from left to right)
Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Pthalo Blue, Ultra Marine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, White.
Typically, you won’t need to have ALL of these colors on your palette at one time. Do your self a favor, scale it back a bit. My palette often looks like the following set up;
Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Pthalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Orange, Yellow Ochre, Lemon Yellow, White.
Once you are consistent about setting up your palette properly, keeping it the same way every time, you will notice an increase in the smoothness of your work flow. Remove the confusion of a poorly set up palette and you are off to a great start!
So, to put it simply….
Help with color mixing
From Dark on the left to Light on the right.
Never knew there was so much to know about setting up a palette, did ya?