Palette - Preparation of Colours

Watch this video painting lesson on how to prepare oil paint (Green colours) on your palette.

Palette - Preparation of Colors

Many artists don’t give enough thought to the choices they make about their palettes. They simply squeeze and mix their paints haphazardly on a randomly chosen palette from the local art store.

After all, it’s just a place to hold your paint, right? Not necessarily. Just as there are various advantages and disadvantages of different types of palettes (wood versus glass versus plastic), the preparation of colors is also something worth thinking about before setting up your palette.

An organized palette makes the experience of painting a lot smoother. It’s more than just a place where paint is held. What truly matters in the end is your painting, but with an organized palette, you can get from beginning your painting to that important finished piece more easily and with less waste.

First, you need to decide what kind of colors you’re going to need. Most artists find that using a warm and a cool shade of each of the three primary colors, along with a good white paint serves them fine. A good, full set of primary colors could include quinacridone rose and cadmium red for the reds, ultramarine blue and phthalocyanine blue for the blues, and cadmium yellow and azo yellow for the yellows.

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Titanium white is one of the most popular and well-liked whites. Many artists also use some browns straight from the tube instead of mixing them themselves, with burnt umber and burnt sienna being popular choices that can go a long way.

Really, it comes down to what you’re going to be painting. If you’re painting a lot of trees and nature, it will obviously make sense to have some brown paint as a mainstay on your palette, but if you’re exclusively painting swans, it may be less important.

Usually, mixing your own paints is preferred to buying pre-made secondary colors, but sometimes it could be handy to have a purple or a green within arms reach before mixing. It depends on how much of it you’re going to use and for what. If only one small detail of your painting is purple, it may not be worth it to create it from scratch. This is the time to consider using a pre-made secondary color.

Finally, one of the most important aspects when preparing colors on a palette is where to put them. It may not seem like something important; as long as the color is there and not interfering with other colors, it should be okay, right?

The answer is no.

A logical organization system for your paints will save you time and hassle in the long run. The reason is that with more experience under your belt, you can start going back and forth from palette to canvas with an almost instinctual ease. If your red paint is always moving around on the palette between different paintings, you’ll have to look down and locate it every time.

But if you always have reds in the same place, you’ll be able to instinctually reach for the red with you need it. This ease is valuable. It makes the whole painting process smoother and more creatively freeing.

An organized palette is a valuable tool for any painter. It requires very little time to set up and will save you lots of disturbances in the long run.

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