Why do I choose to create limited palette art?

A question from one of my collectors, thank you so much 🙂

Introduction to Painting

When starting out on this self taught artistic journey I am on, it was with pencil. Creating grading and shapes from that bit of carbon was really quite easy for me and I was-even if I say so myself-quite an accomplished drawer.

Tiger Tiger 2010

Randomly the colour red got me into painting. I love red in artwork for some reason, it draws my eye and holds it there. Even some of my palest paintings have a spot of red somewhere in them. I was drawing a rose and had full depth and perfect highlights but I wanted more. I had some gouache paint and got the red out and painted a very thin layer over the pencil. Didn’t destroy it!! Result!! After a few coats of the gouache and more pencil to get the dark shades back in and it was my first colour painting ever – with just one colour, or limited palette art, once I had discovered this trick there was no going back. i had a phase of doing nothing but horses, I mean maybe 100+ and they were very popular, but, as an artist, one must move on and continue to learn and grow.

The Learning Curve

That’s where I learnt to limit my palette, less colour to struggle with but still capturing light and shade and atmosphere. 8 years later and although I have progressed degrees with my colour I still have a soft spot for controlled colour. They are dramatic without being distracting. Limited palette neutral colours and limited blue palette are my choice for painting in oils as the colours still remain so vibrant and there is an alarming amount of shades from just four colours to produce stunning limited palette art.

The Reason

There is an added harmony with, I find, between the colours that is concentrated rather than dispersed through different colours, and it brings a certain balance and calm that can be healing to a busy mind. The interaction of colours on the canvas emphasises value (light and dark) over colour. This is why I could slip so easily into it from a standard pencil.

Calmness of the Ocean Seascape Oil Painting
The Calmness of the ocean 2021

For people reading this coming from a drawing background, I would certainly recommend some practice with limited palette art, it is a little less intimidating than a fully loaded palette and, as mine, your eye will be trained for shapes, negative space and values. These skills can be transferred to a neutral tone palette i.e brown, yellow, white and black. Progress one colour at a time so you can learn what each one does and its limits. This is the path that worked for me.

The Continuing Journey

My journey now seems to be taking me into limited palette abstract oil paintings, having done a few of them I really am getting a feel for how my style fits into such a busy and vibrant area that is full of big, bold, bright vibrant colours. I am definitely not an expert in this abstract area but drawing on lessons learnt from hundreds of limited palette art, I can transfer this knowledge onto my new path of abstract.

Limited Palette Abstract 2021

I am surprised it has taken me so very long to find abstract art as at its simplest it is shapes and negative spaces that bring impact to a piece. I think I was a bit daunted by the use of such vast quantities of colour in many abstracts. Having gone back to my basic skillset and incorporated into abstract shape and texture I feel a sense of freedom of expression that I have not felt in some time.

I hope to continue with the abstract painting and hope that people are as interested in that as they are my other limited palette works.

Until next time …….