"Redwood Forest, Muir woods", 12x16, oil on linen
We took a trip to San Francisco a few years back and my son took us to a beautiful redwood forest called Muir Woods. The scope of size of these trees is almost unimaginable unless you are actually there. Keeping in mind the fact that my son is well over 6 feet tall, here is a photo of him under one of the trees:
The painting above was done with Ken Auster's limited palette, and is the fourth and last painting that I intend to do with this palette.
What I have learned from participating in the limited palette challenge is that limiting your palette is great way to create harmony in your painting and travel lightly when painting en plein air. That being said, after doing four paintings for the limited palette challenge here are some of the observations I had of the restrictions in using this particular palette.
The first painting that I did for the challenge, "Summer in Zion" (see below) doesn't really count because I substituted Winsor Green for black. If think that if I had used the Winsor Green in the Muir Woods painting, it would have come out better. I simply could not get a cool, vibrant green out of the Auster palette which includes Cad yellow medium, Alizarin crimson, Ultramarine blue, black and white. I know a lot of people like the green produced from black (Ivory black ) and yellow, but I found it to be too warm for what I was trying to achieve in the overcast Muir Woods setting.You can see the cool green in the evergreens on the left in the painting below:
"Summer in Zion", 8x10, oil on board
The second painting that I did for the challenge was a small still life, which I titled "Juicy Fruits". I found the palette worked fine for this, although I wished that I could have achieved a better orangey-red for the pears. Being a colorist, I really missed using cad red in this painting!
The third painting that I did for the challenge was a seascape, titled, "Summer Day, Peggy's Cove"
I deliberately chose a cool northern scene for this palette because I had already discovered how hard it was to mix something close to manganese blue or cerulean blue with this palette. Cerulean is a warmer blue, tending towards green, and I see that color constantly in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico here in southwest Florida. So knowing I was not going to get a turquoise water color that I would be happy with, I went with northern waters which are effected by a cooler light temperature/ atmosphere than down here. I was overall pretty happy with this one:
So overall, I'll say that I learned a lot experimenting with Ken's palette. I've grown fonder of alizarin crimson, a color I used to detest, and will probably keep it on my palette. I also loved the Auster palette with the subtraction of black and addition of Windsor Green, and will probably use this palette when I'm out in the field.
To see what other artists have done with the challenge, just visit the limited challenge facebook page at The Limited Palette Challenge.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these studies, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.