A Limited Color Palette Part I

I love the harmony and beauty of the colors in this simple grouping of flowers.
I love the harmony and beauty of the colors in this simple grouping of flowers.

Why use a limited palette when there is conceivably every color of paint under the sun made by a plethora of art companies at our disposal?  While artists will no doubt debate over the brand of products, I adopted my painting teacher’s limited palette and have been thrilled with the success.  What I found were limitless possibilities in color mixing, but more importantly, in incorporating a limited palette I learned how color is created.  In this age where color is readily mixed by computers or selected from computer palettes of thousands and thousands of colors this might seem like insignificant brain-training.  I don’t believe this color creating knowledge to be obsolete or useless and offer to you, the reader,in the next few posts, some of benefits of learning from a limited palette.

With just several hand picked colors of pure pigment one can paint any color under the sun.  When computers were first making their debut, folks were excited by the possibility of sixty-four thousand colors.  My immediate thought was that the human mind can manufacture and infinite number of color combinations!  Sixty-four thousand is actually a small number when compared to infinite.  I’m not slamming the use of computers.  To the contrary, I use them for art endeavors on a daily basis.  But I do not have to depend on computers to create color.  I learned that with a limited palette of paint, an easel, a canvas, a mixing tray and daylight.  It was an intellectual exercise that took quite a bit of time – years!  But mixing color, like many art based endeavors, teaches the mind to problem solve – and that ability pays dividends in many areas of life.  This is a big reason I believe the reduction of art programs in the schools – visual art, creative writing, drama, and music – to name a few – is terribly short-sighted!  Who would not benefit from intellectual exercises in problem solving?  The human gift of creativity is perhaps more multi-sided and useful in all areas of life than the decision- makers of these programs give credit.

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