Have you ever gone to a workshop where the instructor’s color palette differs from yours? To me, the difference is akin to knowing how to play the 12-string guitar and then being asked to play a 6-string guitar. Yes both have frets, strings, and use the same chords, but they have a different sound. Similar but different.
In order to take advantage of an upcoming workshop, I’ve cut my color palette in half. Let me say up front that shifting from 14 to 7 hasn’t been easy. Like a three year old who has latched onto a toy and won’t let go, I have had paint withdrawals this past week. Almost as bad as the time I tried giving up my morning coffee. But that’s for another conversation.
For the past couple of years I’ve used Sergei Bongart’s color palette as taught by Don Sahli. The 14 colors are:
- Phthalo blue / Ultramarine blue / Cobalt blue / Cerulean blue
- Viridian green
- Cadmium Yellow Light / Cadmium Yellow Medium / Cadmium Yellow Orange
- Cadmium Orange
- Cadmium Red Light / Alizarin crimson / Transparent Red Oxide
- Yellow Ochre
- Titanium White
My new 7 color palette between now and the end of April is:
- Phthalo green
- Ultramarine blue
- Titanium white
- Alizarin crimson
- Cadmium red light
- Cadmium yellow lemon
- Cadmium yellow light
While there are some crossover colors, there are two I’ve never used: Phthalo green and Cad yellow lemon. More on “mean green” in a moment.
In my studio mixing tests, I’ve been able to figure out how to make most the same colors I used to make with the Sergei colors. The only color I haven’t been able to duplicate is Cerulean blue, which I don’t think is possible with this color set up. When I went plein air painting for the first time with this 7 color palette I tripped and fell face first into a pile of phthalo green. What a strong color. Mental note, if a color begins with “Phthalo” then “less is really more”. Adding white will induce much laughter at what you’ve mixed. Trust me.
Stay tuned as I practice this month and experiment. Hope to be able to share a few of the paintings I can create from this palette.
Until next time: Connect | Engage | Unleash