The Limited Palette

The image I wanted to paint was of a woman sitting on her luggage, facing a backlit screen. So the scene was in the shadows with warm illumination coming from the front.

It’s times like this I opt for a limited palette. Because all the tones are muted this is a good opportunity to use a complimentary scheme, using the compliments to tone down each other instead of placing them full strength next to each other for intense color effect.

The first stop, one of my favorite sites for color inspiration, Design-Seeds. They showcase a photograph and a break down of the main colors in it. This gets the creative juices flowing for me! Below are two combinations I was considering.

The first being more of a monotone, I chose the one on the right. Below are the three colors used to represent these tones, Yellow Ochre, Violet Transparent Magenta and Burnt Umber.BlogPaint

This is what it looked like on the color wheel –



I made a chart with some random color mixtures from my three selected colors, a good thing to have on the wall as I paint in order to remind me of the possibilities.

colorsBlogSometimes the best way to start something like this is to begin brighter than intended and slowly knock down the color. This was accomplished by adding bits of the other colors of the same value, (amount of lightness or darkness). Using broken color is also a good way to animate large areas where one solid tone could be boring.


In the above image you can see how intense the background color was in the beginning, and below, in the finished painting, “Last Train to St. Louis” how much I  toned it down.

Last Train to St. Louis by Diane Eugster
Last Train to St. Louis by Diane Eugster

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