Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zorn Palette

I've been painting so many bright and colorful things lately, so I decided to stir things up a bit. I've wanted to work with a Zorn palette for a while, so I figured now was just as good of a time as ever. Maybe I'll learn some new things about mixing color in the process...

For those unfamiliar with a Zorn palette (google Anders Zorn for some great paintings), it consists of four colors: Flake White, Yellow Ochre, Vermilion, Ivory Black. I replaced the flake white with Titanium White (I'm not using any medium at the moment and flake white is just too stiff to work with on its own), and the Vermilion I replaced with W&N Cadmium Red Scarlet.

The advantage of this palette is that it forces one to work without blue. It's really the most minimal palette one can work with. I played around a bit by mixing colors, and I decided to make a small chart.

Top row: Rembrandt titanium white, Rembrandt yellow ochre, W&N cadmium red scarlet, W&N ivory black.
Row 2: yellow ochre plus white, cad red plus white
Row 3: black/white greys, green plus white
Row 4: black plus yellow ochre
Row 5: yellow ochre/cad red plus white
Row 6: black plus red
Row 7: selection of flesh tones mixed from 3 or all 4 of the colors

I love the idea of having such few colors to work with. I like the simplicity of it, and I am intrigued by the sheer variety of colors that can be mixed from just these 4. With the palette being warm, the neutral greys look cool in comparison... almost blue. The relationships between color is one of the main driving factors in my art. All this mixing made me want to paint...

Nothing says Fall like some festive, seasonal gourdes. Right? This was painted on a 9x12 canvas panel that I toned with a mix of cad red and burnt sienna (ok, so those aren't technically part of the Zorn palette, but I toned all of my panels the other day and didn't have any white ones). Notice how the grey almost looks blue. I really like the color of the shadows and the cool, muted purples in the background. (Edit: added a better photo of the painting)

I learned a lot from this study. I'm definitely going to be working with this palette a lot more.