What Three Colors Can Do

Blue on Blue

For a while, it’ll be three colors and three colors alone. The same three colors over and over to create paintings with rich and varied color. I’ve been focusing on teaching “limited palette” classes lately. So I decided I would try it myself.

I limited my palette to three colors plus black and white.

The three colors I’m currently using are Hansa Yellow Medium, Napthol Red Medium and Phthalo Blue (green shade) plus Mars Black and Titanium White. The painting above uses all of these colors. Each mixed color contains a little black to dull the intensity then as much white as is needed to create the tone/value I want.

The limited palette is a great exercise to force you to work with values. And it’s amazing how varied the colors can be.

I keep books of color mixes. This photo shows one of the pages of just one of my books

colour chips

with a toner added to the three current colors in my palette – Burnt Umber for some of the colors, Raw Sienna for others. The book is a great resource if I need a little nudge. Sometimes the color chips will be the start of a new painting.

And just to show you how varied your paintings can be using a limited palette, here’s a picture of a small still life painted with the same three colors.

Apples

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