Limited Palettes

I didn’t know what I was going to write about today, so I thought I’d talk about something that’s been on my mind a bit lately: limited palettes. I’m amazed at how well talented artists can mix so few colors, even as few as five, to match almost any other color they need, provided they’ve picked the right shades.

I’m not so great at matching colors exactly, but I do find myself mixing secondary colors much more often than I use the ready made ones on my palette. Furthermore, I use certain shades of primary colors over others even though theoretically sky blue and ultramarine blue should be equally useful! It’s not even something I consciously think about. Makes me wonder if these limited palette advocates are on to something.

Do you have any experience using limited palettes? What do you think of them?

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5 Replies to “Limited Palettes”

  1. I only use the three basic colors plus white and black. I was told by my DigitalColor. Instructor when I was at the Art Institute of Dallas that is important to start with that before using already mixed colors because it helps with more advanced mixing and it’s much cheaper. I really enjoy using a limited palette.

    • Thanks for commenting! I think it helps to an extent, but may not be the right choice for an easily frustrated person. Theoretically you’re using the same amount of paint, so it’s cheaper if those colors you’re using are the cheap ones compared to other colors in the same line. Some of them are but some of them are medium priced. Super special colors tend to be high priced anyway though, and the more you have the more decision paralysis you end up with. (Also find a set with burnt umber instead of black already. srsly. 😉 )

  2. I’m not an artist so haven’t had the chance to play around with palettes this way, but I think my sister has done similar things before in her painting classes. I imagine that by mixing your own colors rather than using premixed it will give you more control on the shade and hue… Although you also run the risk of running out before you’re done and needing to mix that exact shade again.

    • Haha well unless you buy every shade imaginable you’ll have to mix anyway. I’m always having trouble knowing how much I need and running the risk of running out! It probably gets easier with practice…