Monday, May 17, 2010

Rockwell’s Palette

Here is Norman's Rockwell's palette as of 1946:

“The arrangement of these colors on Norman’s palette may vary somewhat, but the accompanying sketch shows a typical disposition. The colors in capital letters are those most frequently used.

“The palette consists of a heavy adjustable drawing table (the metal stand type) on top of which is a large piece of white glass known as “milk glass.” Such a stand permits the raising or lowering of the palette to the desired height. It can be used horizontally or tipped to any degree. Norman has equipped his stand with a box designed to accommodate tubes of color.

“He keeps red at the left, yellows next, then white, and at the right his blues, greens, black, and miscellaneous colors. An attached shelf behind this box accommodates his brushes.”

From Norman Rockwell, Illustrator, by Arthur Guptill. Thanks, Jason


Roberto said...

Wow! check it out... six Reds!... four blues! and a full earth-tone scale... and Zinc white instead of cadmium. Beautiful!
(I see he also includes a warm and a cool yellow.)
I don't get why he has placed his cad. orange to the right of his yellow ochre (btwn cad. yel.), instead of to it's left (btwn raw sienna)? just curious-RQ

Roberto said...

error: Zinc white instead of Titanium.

Laraine Armenti said...

Fantastic -- thanks for the information and drawing.

Unknown said...

wow thanks for the info! his palette is certainly ordered differently than what's normally taught?

anyway thanks for the info!

Jose Romero said...

Funny to see that I use an almost identical arrangement! I find it follows a very logical order, like a color wheel with yellow on top, and that makes mixing easier for me. I also like to place all the earths together in the top row; however I prefer orange in the left column, above vermilion.

Don Cox said...

"Zinc white instead of Titanium."

Titanium white wasn't around in those days.

Tyler J said...

I realize that this post is a few days old now but I was wondering about the ivory black. I have heard repeatedly that black is generally frowned upon.

Can someone with more experience enlighten me, please? =)


Roberto said...

Don- I guess that's as good a reason as any!
Black is a very useful and necessary pigment. Sometimes the only way to get to where you need to be is to take the endarkened path. What i usually frown upon is to use it in haste as a quick first step for darkening a hue. I almost always prefer to use an earth-tone first, then a complement; next… adding a gray (tone). My last chose is to resort to a shade (adding black). I like mixing w hues whenever possible in order to maintain the saturation and crispness of my colors. Black sucks the life out of my hues to fast, and also makes my palette turn to mud, (not that there is anything wrong w mud, I just prefer my mud to be color-full). There’s my two-cents. Anybody got change for a paradime? -RQ

James Gurney said...

Roberto said it better than I could. It's a good and valuable color, but can be a killer in mixtures if used indiscriminately. I'd recommend experimenting with black as a color by painting with a palette limited to black, white, and one other color and just see what ranges you can come up with.

That's exactly what Rockwell and the golden age illustrators did when they had two-color reproduction, and they got great results from it. Also explains why most golden-agers kept black on the palette.

Roberto said...

P.S. to Don-
I did a little sleuthing and came up with this:

"History of Titanium Dioxide Whites:
Titanium dioxide was discovered in 1821, it was not until 1916 that modern technology had progressed to the point where it could be mass produced. First made commercially in Norway for industrial purposes, it was not until 1921 that a titanium white oil color suitable for artistic purposes was introduced by an American manufacturer. There are many industrial grades of titanium white pigment, none of which are used in their pure form for artists oil color.
The masstone of titanium white is neither warm nor cool and lies somewhere between lead white and zinc white, in that respect. It has a tinting strength superior to either of the other whites, and a drying time that is slower than that of lead white but faster than that of zinc white. It is truly an all-purpose white oil color.
In oil, it dries to a spongy film that is quite unsuitable for artistic purposes. For this reason, titanium dioxide is always blended with one or more of the other white pigments, or an inert pigment to make a suitable artists oil color. Since titanium dioxide, by itself, dries to a spongy film and zinc oxide dries to a brittle film, the two are combined in a balanced blend for better quality, professional grade titanium whites. In some brands, where zinc oxide predominates in the mixture , the color is called titanium-zinc white. Cheaper brands of budget grade paint are known to use a mixture of titanium dioxide with Barytes or other inert pigments. Use of these types of whites is really a false economy because they lack both the brilliance and tinting strength of professional grade color.
In 1916, the Titanium Pigment Corporation of Niagara Falls, New York and the Titan Co. AS, of Norway simultaneously began commercial production of this new white pigment. Then, the principal white pigments used in paints were white lead, zinc white and lithopone."

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Roberto--that's fascinating stuff. I was just eating some cottage cheese and noticed titanium oxide pigment as a major ingredient--so I guess we can assume it's pretty non-toxic.

Roberto said...

That’s hilarious!! I just split my gut!
I’m no chemist, but I’m pretty sure that the one oxide difference between titanium oxide and titanium dioxide would probably pay the collage tuition for a lawyer’s spawn for several semesters at a prestigious university somewhere, but I could be wrong. Bon Apetit!. -RQ

Tyler J said...

Roberto and James,

Thanks for the info, very insightful. I can understand why black might be dangerous in the hands of an tempting to use it as a crutch for shadows and shades.

Reminds me of making a Bearnaise sauce: you can make it over an open flame if you know what you are doing; surely the same can be said for art.

I guess at the end of the day it's all smoke and mirrors anyway.

Thanks again =)