All artists have their favourites.
Anyone that knows me wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I have a constant struggle to not paint absolutely everything in purple…my favourite colour. But my artistic discipline means I’ve developed other favourites that play nicely with others!
There's no colour that’s black! At 18 yers old I pretentiously announced to my art teacher that I couldn’t use black. He thought about this for a bit then said “Of course you can’t; you're not Spanish!"
I still look at the Spanish artists and it's true that the bold colours used by Spanish artists sit well against the strength of black. But I can’t seem to make black work in my paintings so I have developed alternatives.
The darkest colour I can make is with a mix of burnt umber and blue/violet. I use these to colours great deal at the start of my paintings. They are the basis of 'form' and I like them on their own and together.
Another similar combination for me is burnt sienna, and dioxine mauve. These two can form a similar function but they are more vibrant and add a different dimension to my work.
Some surprises in my animal paintings come from Kings Blue and cobalt turquoise. I have to use them sparingly as they can take over a painting but when used skillfully they bring a painting to life, they make other colours sing and bring contrast to the warm earthy tones I like.
Pink for joy, I use splash of brilliant pink in my paintings - I call it “ Pink for Pops” My dad loved to wear pink trousers and since his passing there is a secret (or not so secret) bit of pink in my paintings just for him. the more subtle sister to pink is Charvin’s pink coral found in Paris. It's straight out of Monet’s palette and its warmth can transform a piece.
Light. Naples yellow light is a favourite of landscape painters as it is so very useful in skies, it doesn't tend to go green if you get it near blue. When mixed with dioxin mauve it can make a beautful cloudy grey, which has more luminescence than a grey mixed from black and white. It's very useful for highlights in portraits, I learnt to use it as a landscape painter and now use it confidently in my animals.
The last colour to be applied is white. Oil painters work dark to light. Titianum white is a bright white, it's hard to blend if you want soft flesh tones to be lightened (use zinc white for that). But it is great to add a “zing” or sparkle. It helps me create the twinkles in the eyes.
I have an array of colours, and when mixed carefully I can create almost any effect I want, but I’ve noticed, particularly when painting demonstrations, that actually my huge box of tricks contains 10 colours that get used again and again.
These things go in waves and fashions. My top ten might be different in a couple of years time. Lets wait and see.
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