I am a great admirer of colours, I love all colours with great passion and I use them all from time to time. Having to limit the colours I use regularly is just a practical solution to the impossible idea of having them all play a part in each painting.
That is why I developed a system that works for me: I have some regular colours and the special guest stars for a particular painting project.
I was always so curious to see what kind of colours other artists are using so I am sharing my set of the most often chosen colours with one note: I do not promise that I will not change these on a whim. I often ponder to just ditch the most practical colours and use only the colours I truly love. For example, although permanent alizarin crimson is the most practical solution who says I will always want to be practical… Maybe one day I will decide that practical is not my thing and pursue only the colours that I am crazy about. I think that day will surely come and that will be interesting to see.
This is my basic oil painting palette, my main colour stars:
- Cadmium yellow light (I do not like this colour, it is in danger of disappearing from my list)
- Cadmium yellow medium
- Yellow ochre
- Cadmium orange deep
- Cadmium red light
- Permanent alizarin crimson (this is a boring colour)
- Ultramarine blue
- Cerulean blue
- Phthalo green (this colour is a bully)
- Transparent oxide red (there is no black without this one)
- Terra rosa (what I said about phthalo green)
I do not really believe in limited palettes. Why would you want to limit yourself with colours? That would be like if a writer used only one set of words and combined them till the end of time. That sounds very taxing to me. I see how limiting colours can be beneficial for some artists but we are all so delightfully different, aren’t we?
I haven’t listed the special guest star colours, but you can go have a look at the variety offered by paint manufacturers to get that exact list 😁 (I see no point in listing you an entire catalog).
I am currently auditioning different violets, as I will be adding a regular violet once I have established which one that is. I guess in a couple of years, it takes me a while to make these decisions and even then their fate is uncertain. I am currently leaning towards Mars Violet.
You can see me here still using a violet I mixed from ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson.
What is your preferred colour palette?