My Favorite Tool - Rosemary Bauer

My Favorite...Color Palette

When I paint outdoors, I need to travel light, so I only pack 8 tubes of paint.  I paint with acrylics, and I rarely use them “straight from the tube.”  I mix all of my other colors from the 8 tubes on location. 

Essentially 3 of the colors are primary.  A white is of course included for lightening, and burnt umber (a brown) is also included to help with mixing earth tones.  The other colors are secondary; a purple, a green and an orange.  I don’t use black from a tube, because I find it relatively easy to mix using contrasting colors.  I find the results of mixing black can be more interesting and varied than using a stock black.  Black is a color that for the most part does not exist in nature.  By mixing my black, I keep it in harmony with the other colors on my palate.

I came upon my color palette after a great deal of reading about other artists, taking art workshops and experimenting.  Artist’s palettes vary tremendously, and in my studio I have almost every color imaginable as a result of experimentation.  Still, even in my studio I find that I don’t often stray far from the same 8 colors I use outdoors. 

Here’s a list of what I use most often:

  • Cadmium Yellow Medium. I like bright when it comes to yellow, and this is a good one.  I can always alter it or cool it down with some of the other paint colors.
  • Cadmium Orange.  This color is wonderful for mixing, or for creating a “bright spot” here and there.
  • Pyrrole Crimson.  Pyrrole Crimson is a deep red, but still more vivid and not as dark as Alizarin Crimson.  It’s great for mixing, and I can brighten it with the orange or yellow. 
  • Ultramarine Blue – I can add white and a touch of other colors for various water and sky effects. 
  • Dioxazine Purple – Almost exclusively used for mixing, I often use it to create a great “shadow” effect with greens.
  • Hookers Green – In California, the greens tend to be a bit on the gray side.  This is a good green to start with, and easy to take “up or down” with some of the other paint colors. 
  • Burnt Umber – I almost never use this straight out of the tube.  However, this is a good one to help make “earthier” versions of some of the other colors.   I can also add blue to quickly make a gray. 
  • Titanium White – When I’m not using it for mixing, and need white, I almost always add at least a little something to it for a more natural effect.  

I’ll be at catalog stop 30 for this year’s Open Studios Art Tour.  When you visit my studio, I can show you my setup and an example of mixing a color to match one I’m seeing.  Of course, there is nothing to stop me from enhancing a color and having a little fun with it!

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