Sunday, May 25, 2014

Revisiting Zorn

Each artist formulates their own palette over time by adopting an initial colourway based on another artist or through an instructor's choice.  But as subjects change and experimentation occurs, additional colours are added that enhance what the artist tries to achieve and a personalized palette of common colours are used that become part of a signature style.

yellow ochre, cadmium red medium, ivory black, titanium white


Even though I do mostly boats and water now, there was a time when my main interest was in portraiture.  And for portraits, the Zorn limited palette cannot be beaten, in my opinion.  Skin tones ranging from lights to darks are endless using the four colours of cadmium red medium, yellow ochre, ivory black and titanium white.  A few years ago I used a Zorn palette to paint this portrait of Bill Grant.

In portraiture a limited palette is quite useful as it forces you to create colours and removes reliance of convenience colours in tubes.  The range of values and hues that can be achieved with limited colours can be explored using a colour chart.  This becomes a reference for future paintings when you're considering the colours you need to achieve an accurate representation of what is front of you.

With internet services all over the map lately and completely dying last week, I took advantage of some time where I would not be distracted to create another of my colour charts.  You can read my previous blog posts about creating colour charts here and here and here.  The chart shown here is based on the Zorn palette and shows the amazing range of colours that can be achieved using just a few colours.