173 Limited plein air palette

There are many reasons to use a limited palette in the field. It promotes harmonious colors. It helps maintain a smooth paint consistency—which helps to foster broken color. It keeps colors from getting too dark—a common problem in the field. And it helps simplify color choices.

The downside is it takes time to premix colors. This can be remedied by premixing before you go into the field. You can either pre-mix  secondary colors in a protected palette box or you can premix colors and bag them into cellophane bags sealed with rubber bands.

Since you already spent time looking at the scene while you were doing your sketch (see blog 172) you should have a good idea which colors you will need. I recommend adding at least two premixed greens, two purples, and an orange.

 I chose three primary colors—Thalo blue, Quinacridone Red, and Hansa Yellow Light—because they’re high chroma colors and they tend toward the cool side of their color families—which makes for harmonious mixtures. In future Gbox videos I will be slowly expanding my palette to include an increasing array of pigments.

The painting seen above, Wellsville Mountain, is 20″ x20″, and was painted in a two hours plein air session. The following Gbox video is $.49 and is 12 minutes long. It is the first in a series of three parts.

Brad Teare— May 2014

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Updated: 25th September 2023
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