Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Color Palette

This is a revision of an older post from 2012 where I discuss my palette.  I've added WHY I use particular colors.  I recently announced my 2014 workshops, and since there are a lot of questions about color palette before and during workshops, I decided to update this and repost.

Here is my color palette in the studio.

"What colors are on your palette?" is a common question asked during workshops or demos.  This is my studio palette, laid out on a 20x30 piece of glass with a mid-tone gray board placed under the glass to aid in value comparisons.  My current palette consists of the following Gamblin colors, laid out in this order at the top from left to right:  Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Yellow Ochre, Transparent Orange Mixture, Cadmium Orange (sometimes), Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Permanent, Burnt Sienna, and Asphaltum.  Then on the left side of the palette, from bottom to top: Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Permanent Green Light, Cadmium Green, and occasionally Sap Green (not shown).  Titanium White is in the top left corner between these two.

I would consider this a modified prismatic palette.  It goes through the warm colors from lightest to darkest along the top, then through the cool colors on the left - from the coolest to the warmest.  Aside from having a range of warms and cools, I am also trying to give myself a range of values. 

I will quickly go through this palette to explain why I chose each:
Cad Yellow Lemon - This is the lightest, coolest yellow.
Cad Yellow Deep - This is a darker, warmer yellow that gives good value range between yellows.
Yellow Ochre - This is a good earth yellow and important in depicting drier climates.
Transparent Orange Mixture - A rich, transparent, warm orange.  Warms up greens beautifully and makes nice green blues for the sky without making it appear too green.
Cad Orange - This is a cooler intense orange.  If I have to choose, I prefer Transparent Orange.
Cad Red Light - This is a warm red and the lighter value.
Alizarin Permanent - This is the cooler, darker red that gives good value range between reds.
Burnt Sienna - An indispensable earth red with decent tinting strength.
Asphaltum - A transparent, dark, yellow earth that grays cool colors nicely.
Ultramarine Blue - This is the cooler, darker value blue that gives good value range between blues.
Cobalt - This is the warmer, lighter value blue with more intensity.
Viridian - A dark, cool green that will tint warm but still look clean with orange, or go grayer with reds.
Permanent Green Light - This is also a cool green with a lot of intensity.  It needs to be toned but once mixing is mastered it has a lot of possibility.
Cad Green - An intense, warm, light green good for new foilage mixtures.
Sap Green - This is an earthy green sometimes good for dark mixes but it can also dull colors and get you in trouble.
Titanium White - A high tinting strength white that's good for landscape painting because it takes less to tint than other whites.  It is a cool white so as you mix it into your color, your mixture will also need to be warmed.

No matter how you lay out your palette, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent! Reaching for colors in the same place each time helps streamline the mixing process.
Here is my slightly simplified plein air palette.

If I am painting outdoors, my typical studio palette is simplified because of space constraints and to make painting more direct in the field.  I lay it out the same, that is all the warm colors across the top and cool colors on the left side with Titanium White in the upper left corner between them.  Top: Cadmium Yellow Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Yellow Ochre, Transparent Orange Mixture, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Permanent, and Burnt Sienna.  Then on the left side of the palette, from bottom to top: Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Permanent Green Light.

I have experimented with a limited palette and believe this to be a useful tool for beginning students who may not have a good handle on color mixing.  If you are interested in using a limited palette, I would encourage you to experiment with several versions of a red, yellow, blue palette to see what works best for you.  You will want to give yourself a large value range, so I would suggest Cad. Yellow Lemon or Cad. Yellow Light for your yellow, Alizarin Permanent or Cad. Red for your red (Cad Red Lt is too warm and light for a limited palette), and Ultramarine Blue plus Titanium White.  Another good addition to this would be an earth tone such as burnt sienna. Be sure to have dark values on your limited palette because you can always tint lighter with Titanium.

My palette has been adjusted throughout my painting career.  Most of my palette is Gamblin because they make great paint and they have a wealth of useful information on their website about color properties.  I've been wanting to conduct a brand comparison for a while but life got very busy with a move the last six or more months.  I've been planning how to do this and hope to get it started soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Painting Trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks

I recently got back from a wonderful and productive trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I painted in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks for five glorious days!  Though the mornings were cool (34 degrees!), it was great to spend my days out painting and taking in several hikes around the lakes with light plein air gear.  Here are many of the plein air pieces as well as on location shots so you can relive the trip with me!

I am also happy to announce that my artwork will now be available at Legacy Gallery, located at 75 North Cache, in the town of Jackson.  Please find images of new work available in this post.  You may also contact Legacy Gallery at 307-733-2353 or visit their website:

Painting at Jenny Lake, one of the first stops I made.
View from South Jenny Lake, oil, 10x12
Afternoon on the Snake, oil, 10x12.  Painted at Schwabacher Landing, one of my favorite spots.
Backlit, oil, 12x9

I was fortunate to be able to hang out and paint at Triangle X Ranch in the Grand Teton Park one evening.
Dusk at Triangle X Ranch.

Chapel of the Transfiguration, oil, 8x10.  The cloud cover on this particular morning created some beautiful atmosphere!

My view at Leigh Lake, a fairly easy hike with light plein air gear.
Fallen Timber, Leigh Lake, oil, 8x10
Firehole River in Yellowstone, oil, 9x12.  There were not less than three fishermen at points along this river while I was painting.  A larger piece will be in the works soon - Fisherman's Paradise??
Gull Point Drive at Yellowstone Lake, oil, 6x8.  I painted several 6x8s in this location.
Lily Pads on Swan Lake, oil, 8x10
I rolled out of bed at 5am to capture the morning light at Mormon's Row.  Wouldn't you know it, a professional photographer taking shots of the barn wanted to get a few of me.  Pretty sure I didn't even comb my hair.
Little Pink Houses, oil, 8x10.  Everyone takes photos of the barn.  I fell in love with the pink house.

New Work Available at Grapevine Gallery

I'm very excited to let you know that my work will now be available at Grapevine Gallery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma!  Opened in 1977, Grapevine has a long history of providing quality artwork to collectors and shows many artists who participate in the Prix de West show.  It is currently owned and operated by Clay Speer, grand-nephew of Walt who was one of the original owners, and his wife Julie. 

Grapevine Gallery is in a great new location at 1933 NW 39th Street in Oklahoma City.  In addition to the new space to showcase artwork, the building also has a large workshop space so Grapevine can continue the tradition of providing demonstrations and workshops from some of the greatest artists working today.

Grapevine Gallery is having an open house July 26-28 to feature the work of Dianne Massey Dunbar, Bruce Peil who will give a demonstration, and myself.  If you are in the area that weekend, please stop by and say hello!  For more information, visit their website at: or call 405-528-3739.

A Road Well Traveled, oil, 12x16

Arizona Evening, oil, 8x10

Desolate Road, oil, 24x30

New Paintings Available at Legacy Gallery, Jackson, Wyoming

As some of you know by now, Galleries West in Jackson, Wyoming has closed.  My paintings have been well represented by this gallery since the summer of 2005.  Debbie Bunch and Scott Nickell were wonderful to work with and this is unfortunate, but they are looking forward to a new chapter in their lives and I wish them all the best.

Visiting and painting this beautiful part of our country has become a highlight for me.  I am happy to continue this tradition and to announce that my artwork will now be available at Legacy Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming.  Legacy Gallery is located at 75 North Cache, on the corner of Deloney Ave. and Cache.  They have been providing fine art to collectors for over 20 years.  Below, please find images of work currently available at Legacy.  I am very excited about this new work, some of which will be included in a fine art book titled Art of the National Parks, to be published early 2013.  I welcome any comments or questions you have regarding this new work.  You may also contact Legacy Gallery at 307-733-2353 or visit their website:  Their website has photos of these three pieces framed.

Thank you for taking an interest in my work and I hope you have a wonderful summer!

Autumn, Schwabacher Landing, oil on linen, 24x36.  Available at Legacy Gallery.

Fall in the Valley, oil on linen, 18x24.  Available at Legacy Gallery.

Mount Moran from Willow Flats, oil on linen, 20x24.  Available at Legacy Gallery.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

America the Beautiful 4th of July Show

Hueys Fine Art will host the "America the Beautiful - 4th of July Show" this month.  This piece, Flint Road, an oil painting on linen measuring 24x36, is included in the show.  As artists it is sometimes difficult to detach and truly know if a piece is strong.  For me, this piece is successful on many levels.  First, it is inspired by a scene only 10 minutes from my studio and home.  A place I know well and paint a lot.  The atmosphere lent a tonal palette on this particular trip out.  It immediately reminded me of one of my favorite paintings by Isaak Levitan, Vladimirka.  While painting the larger piece in my studio, it was hard not to think of Levitan, so Flint Road is also a tribute of sorts to him.

To see this painting and the other beautiful pieces available during this show, visit  The opening reception is this Friday, July 6 from 5-7pm.

Flint Road, oil on linen, 24x36

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Art of the National Parks," Fine Art Book to be Published

I am thrilled to announce that, for the first time, my work will be included in a fine art book titled Art of the National Parks, published by Fresco Fine Art Publications, early 2013.  There will be ten National Parks featured.  My artwork will be featured in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Park section, along with 8-10 other artists I greatly admire including Clyde Aspevig, Ralph Oberg, Jim Wilcox, Carole Cooke and Scott Christensen. The book is co-authored and curated by Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum in California, and Susan McGarry, former editor of Southwest Art magazine and current director of the Plein Air Painters of America.  It will be sold through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and national museums among others.  There will also be a group exhibit for the participating artists in proximity to the Parks either summer or fall of 2013 once the book is published.

This is such a great opportunity and I want to share it with all of you!  I will spend the third week of June traveling to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to paint the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks for this book project, and will be posting updates on my blog while traveling and painting so you can see the process as well as the finished pieces.  I have already created and posted some studio work from last fall's trip to Wyoming that may be included in the book. (See Grand Teton/Yellowstone National Parks Painting Series)

Please check back under the Art of the National Parks Book label for posts about this new adventure!

Friday, June 1, 2012

There are still a few spots available in the Improving Studio Work Through Plein Air workshop held at the Art League in New Braunfels, TX June 8-10.  Please check the workshop page on this blog or my website for more information. We will have fun, learn a lot, and don't worry, we WILL stay cool!

Photos from the Flint Hills Workshop, May 3-6, 2012

A wonderful group of 16 enthusiastic artists met for the flint hills workshop in May.  I've been meaning to post these but had to unplug for 3 weeks to get a project completed so sorry this is so late.  Some photos are mine, some the students'.  We had a great time!  I'm planning to hold another spring workshop in the flint hills next year and I hope you can join us.  Enjoy!

We arrived Thursday afternoon and the light was perfect!  Everyone got used to their gear and did some warm up painting.
Three days together at the bunkhouses - living the artist's life!
On Friday morning we got right to it - painting skies.
Only a few wispy clouds in the sky, but we made the most of it.
It is possible to paint using a limited selection of pastels and layering.
Elaine getting started on a beautiful pastel painting.
Hmm... why are all those people standing on the road??
And now we paint rocks!
It was hot and humid!
Friday afternoon we concentrated on painting rocks and water.

The heat didn't slow down these dedicated artists!

Saturday morning's beautiful view.
Starting the morning demo.
Blocking in...

and still working on the demo.

The cows were very curious!

We spent Saturday afternoon finding shade and painting along a wooded road. What beautiful light!
Many of the artists spent the evenings photographing.

A cattle path near Flyiing W Ranch.

It was almost a full moon that evening
Pristine prairie.

Artists taking photos of artists taking photos!

The light at dusk was breathtaking.

We spent Saturday night having a well deserved dinner at the Grand Central Hotel in Cottonwood Falls - YUM!
Clements Stone Arch Bridge near Flying W Ranch
Cool truck begging to be painted!  Whoever took this pic - please tell me where you found this!
Chase County courthouse in Cottonwood Falls at night.

Another wonderful weekend in the flint hills comes to an end.