Monday, April 11, 2011

Your Palette to Success

Palette organization can help keep your colors fresh and radiant, which is just one way to keep your paintings “winning”.

Here are some tips to keep your palette working for you and not against you.

Step one: Lay out your colors the same every time. Every time. Every time. They say if you read or hear something 3 times it will sink in. So here is one extra mention to make sure it sticks… Every-time.
If you are painting outdoors, you may be working with fewer colors, as opposed to when working in the studio. When using fewer tubes, still lay the colors on hand out in the same pattern. Here is the reason: so you never need to look or think about the color you are dipping into. You should be able to paint in total darkness, because you know where every color is.

Think of your palette as your keyboard. You are going to write a novel, and the letters on the keypad change every time you sit down to type, consider the time and energy it will take you to find each letter to form a word, to structure a sentence and ultimately write the book. The same is true when painting. If you have a color in your mind you want to mix and find yourself looking around your palette for where you put the blue, your concentration has now shifted from that color you wish to mix to searching for and locating the blue. Now you have broken the flow of creation.

Painting is difficult but we can lessen our struggles with an organized palette.

Lets make a note here also about squeezing out enough paint. Paintings can appear dull and drab if you are miserly with your paint. Make sure you put enough down. That way you won’t need to continually stop to add more. Also, squeeze out all your stable of colors. Just because you think you will not need “red” – still put a little on your palette. You will need it! Why sacrifice the quality of your art, by pre thinking what you might or might not need. Give yourself every opportunity for success.

Below is a palette that has colors laid out in an organized manner. This palette has had years of use. You can see that the colors have always been put out in the same place every time. How you decide to arrange your colors is entirely up to you. This example is a prismatic layout (rainbow order).

Palette laid out…Now for Puddle Jumping.

Mix your colors in puddles.


The reason for puddles is that when you make a color mixture, that new color will be unique with it’s own hue and value. This puddle holds valuable information. When mixing another color of the same value… the reference is right there to compare, side by side. Or possibly you need the same color with a darker value. Again you can reference from the original puddle.

The other great advantage to keeping paint puddles, is that these puddles can be treated as additional colors on your palette. Different from your tube paints, these are colored mixtures are available to use in new mixtures. Using puddle mixes can also help paintings keep a cohesive finish.

Eventually the puddles will take over the palette. Don’t be lazy. Wipe the mixing area off, so you have a clean area to work in. Color gets dull and muddy from working on a disorderly and chaotic palette.

Check your palette score.

Organized Layout.

Enough Paint squeezed out

All your colors on the palette

Clean mixing area


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