Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thinking about Palettes

So I have a subscription to Artist magazine which I absolutely love!  Usually when it comes in the mail I grab it and read it right away.  I always find something interesting and usually I find several somethings....So in April's issue of the magazine the cover talked about "How to match skin tones".  Since I usually like to paint and draw people and I have found myself struggling to match skin tones, I thought this would be a great article to read.  Well, it was! The article was about the artist Marvin Mattelson and how he developed his palette which he says, after years of searching and trying different methods, he found to be the most productive palette for skin tones every.  I read the whole article which was really a history of color theory as well as an introspective of two other artists Frank J. Reilly and Albert H. Munsell.  Reading the article sent me to the internet searching for Mattelson's palette, Frank J. Reilly's palette and Albert H. Munsell's palette.

I found myself knee deep in color theory and found that the color theory I was taught in graduate school is not the one that Mattelson used to define skin tones so well.  I also found myself jumping from blog to blog from different artists who also, like Mattelson, were seeking information on how color really works and how to achieve the delicate nuances of skin tones.  One blog that I found most helpful was called Underpaintings and is a forum posted by Matthew W. Innis which celebrates excellence in Representational Ar - past, present, and future.  The link to his blog can be found here   I highly recommend reading it and he has a whole section on Mattelson's palette.

It really ignited a fire in me to understand palette choices better.  It was fun to read how each artist from Munsell to Reilly to Mattelson to Innis each has a slightly different take on the information and how it found it's way into their own palettes in each artists unique way.  At this point what I know is that I have a lot of research to do to understand munsell's color theory better and also Mattelson's palette.  It made me think about my own color choices and how I came to them.  Here is my palette as it currently stands, before I begin experimenting with Munsell/Reilly/Mattelson's revelations.  Not all of these are used for achieving skin tones, but they are my go to colors that always wind up on my palette.  Let's see how it changes over time as I learn more...

Flake White
Burnt Umber
Burnt Sienna
Terra Rose
Yellow Ochre
Naples Yellow
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Scarlet
Alizarin Crimson
Dioxizine Purple
Ultramarine Blue
Colbalt Turquoise
Sap Green
Brillant Yellow Green

It also got me thinking about famous artist's palettes whose work I like, and wondering what theirs looked like.   I found a few thanks the website   (See below) They seem remarkably muted and neutral....


Eugène Delacroix

Auguste Renoir


Georges Seurat

Gustave Moreau

Paul Gauguin

Vincent van Gogh
Thank you to La Boite Verte and Lucy Davies.

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