We’re lucky to have Jason as the guest author of today’s Color Sunday post. Before you read on, please take a few seconds to contribute to the related poll at left. Take it away, Jason!
The Palette Project/ Statistics Chart, by Jason Peck
“Many years ago, I decided to collect the palettes of various old masters as well as many great modern day artists and illustrators, some living and some recently deceased. I chose a mix of portrait artists, landscape artists, and plein air artists.
My initial goal was to compare these palettes to see which colors were most favored by artist then and now. I also hoped to explore the reasons why some of these artists used a limited palette as opposed to what I'm calling an expanded palette. I decided that a chart or graph would be the best way to explore this.
“To begin formulating my chart, I first picked 14 artists whose palettes I had collected, and then listed their names across the top of the chart. The artists of the past include Carolus-Duran, Monet, Alma-Tadema, Bouguereau, and Sargent, and the contemporary masters include people like Allan R. Banks, Marvin Mattelson, and Graydon Parrish,
Down the left hand side of the chart I listed the colors that I found on their palettes. Under each artist’s name I put a check next to the colors that they used. I then counted the checks for each color, and then wrote in the totals. The results told me a lot and were a bit unexpected. Besides black or white, burnt sienna totaled the highest of all colors. The results below only show the colors that scored the highest.
- Burnt sienna=10
- Venetian Red=8
- Cobalt Blue=8
- Yellow Ochre=8
- Raw Sienna=7
- Raw Umber=7
- Alizarin Crimson=7
- French Ultramarine Blue=6
- Naples Yellow=5
- Burnt Umber=5
- Rose Madder=4
- Manganese Blue=4
“Of the 82 colors on my chart, all the rest totaled 3 and below. It was most surprising to see that the cadmium colors scored so low.
“I also mentioned above that I wish to explore why some of these artist used a Limited Palette as opposed to a Expanded Palette.
“After researching and diligently studying the palettes of old masters and great artists and illustrators of today, I have reached some conclusions and a few self truths.
“Conclusions and Self Truths about palettes: I have concluded that there are two types of palettes, the Limited Palette of 6 colors or less, and the Expanded Palette of 7 colors or more.
“Limited Palette and the artists who use them
I believe that the artist who chooses to use a Limited Palette does so for many reasons:
- They are familiar with the colors they choose and can mix nearly every color they encounter with ease.
- They enjoy the activity of mixing the colors they may encounter, as opposed to buying the color already mixed, such as orange.
- They prefer the lesser cost of using a limited palette, as well as less baggage when traveling.
- They like harmony that one can achieve from using a limited palette, and still there are many more reasons.
“Expanded Palettes and the Artist who use them
I believe that the artist who chooses to use the Expanded Palette, does so for many reasons:
- They probably have a working knowledge of the Limited Palette, but prefer having certain colors already mixed, such as black.
- They prefer to buy tube colors rather than continually mixing a quantity of a particular color, such as orange.
- They may be under time constraints, and simply find premixed tube colors help to speed up the working time, and still there are many more reasons.
Lets face it: It’s the earth colors, yellowish colors, and bluish colors that can greatly increase the number of colors on one’s palette. The Limited Palette user will probably only use one red, one yellow and one blue, whereas the Expanded Palette user will probably use two reds, a yellowish red, and a bluish red, and so on. Although the earth colors aren't necessarily needed, and can be mixed easily with the Limited Palette, it is, in the mind of the Expanded palette user, much easier to just buy the tube color they know they want or need rather than having to mix them continually. I don't believe that the Expanded Palette user is necessarily lazy; quite the contrary, I think it’s simply a matter of choice and experience.
“In conclusion: I now believe that there is not one universally accepted palette as the primary palette to use. One should choose and use whatever colors he or she is most comfortable working with, after all, art is about one’s self-expression.
“However, after all my research and study, I know strongly believe that all students should have a good understanding and working knowledge of a Limited Palette before using an Expanded palette. I also believe that when considering an Expanded Palette, one should consider which yellowish colors, and bluish colors are going to be of the greatest benefit to the palette. For instance, it would be senseless to purchase two yellowish reds, and no bluish red. So one yellowish red and one bluish red would be most favorable.
“And as Forest Gump once said, ‘Well, that’s all I have to say about that.’”
Thanks for contributing, Jason. Here's the link to his blog and to his Art-By-Committee sketch. I'll tabulate the voting in the blogreaders' color poll next Sunday. Oh, and sorry I left off cadmium orange, naples yellow, permanent green, Winsor red and many others. Once I launched the poll, I couldn't change it.