Saturday, 8 February 2014


Breezy Butterfly ACEO in Daylight
Essence Painting
2.5" x 3.5" ACEO OR ATC

To view my Gallery or purchase this painting please visit Daily Paintworks. Larger originals or prints may be available by contacting me.

I was reading a blog interviewing one of the top Daily Painters, Carol Marine and her choice of colours, or palette, caught my attention. Carol appears to sell every painting she makes for upwards of $100 and probably creates in the region of 200 paintings a year, so when she says something I sit up and listen.

Like many other top Daily Painters, Carol uses oil paint and a limited palette of ULTRAMARINE, CADMIUM YELLOW LIGHT, CADMIUM RED MEDIUM, (near primaries), ALIZARIN CRIMSON, BURNT UMBER, and TITANIUM WHITE. She says she occasionally uses PHTHALO BLUE, PERMANENT ROSE and CADMIUM LEMON (a different grouping of near primaries). Today I decided to take Carol's palette for a test drive. In  my work I use about 20 colours because I prefer to use paint direct from the tube with only slight modification because the colour shift is difficult to predict when mixing. Reducing the number of tubes to 4 plus white was going to be a challenge indeed.

The first thing I discovered is that I rarely use any of these colours. This could be due to acrylics behaving differently to oil, in that they shift colour and dry darker. I have previously found the cadmium light yellow too cool in tone and I tend to reach for the richer CADMIUM MEDIUM. I love Ultramarine, in acrylic it loses it's brilliance as it dries and tends dulls when used as a mixer. As for Cadmium Red Medium, I'm not keen on the blood-like hue and prefer the richer, cooler PYROLE or the more brilliant NAPHTHOL. In fact, the only colour I have in common with Carol is ALIZARIN CRIMSON which is a wonderful modifier for green and makes lovely mixes with CADMIUM ORANGE, or LIGHT PERMANENT, AUSTRALIAN SKY and COBALT TEAL blues. I fare better with the second line up, using PHTHALO fairly often and ROSE a little less. As for the Umber, I NEVER use any brown, but used it often when I was an oil painter.

After I had managed to find a few lonely tubes of Carol's colours, I started on a the painting above.

Forcing myself to try different colours and adding a bit of umber did seem to work OK. With slow and careful application of the three main colours, using them mainly as glazes, I was able to achieve most mixes and I think the finished painting still retains a clear, bright look. The freshness probably comes from the cadmium light yellow. The main challenge was trying to mix a nice sky blue, for which I had to resort to PHTHALO. The red made a fairly good orange with the cadmium light yellow, but I preferred using the PERMANENT ROSE as a glaze to get a brilliant orange. As I suspected, the Ultramarine dried too dark, losing the blue and turning almost black when dry, but for this particular painting that was OK.

I've blogged before about moving from oil painting to acrylics and I have to admit that I miss it. With Oils it's easier to create depth because the paint keeps it's thickness as it dries. It also stays the same colour where acrylics darken. I spend a lot of time wrestling with these two things. I long to return to oils when I can get a separate studio.

Cat # 14030 Breezy Butterfly