A Landscape Artist’s Primary Palette

By Michael Skalka

Primary palettes abound in books and articles on the subject. Landscape artist Scott Gellatly in Portland, Oregon, uses a refreshing interpretation on the primary palette, which incorporates both old and new pigments. His use of Gamblin Indian yellow, quinacridone red and ultramarine blue focuses on exploiting the transparent properties of each color, and also the combinations that can be achieved by mixing them to make vibrant transparent greens, oranges and violets that work in harmony.

Careful use of titanium white and opaque colors like cadmium lemon and viridian—when bright opaque greens are required—makes Gellatly’s work a fantastic interplay of dark and light transparent values balanced by opaque passages. The artist also incorporates Gamblin transparent earth red for a value-based underpainting and manganese blue hue when he needs a bright cool blue. His palette is a great example of the synthesis of old master techniques with the power of modern organic pigments.


In our April 2008 issue, Michael Skalka discusses the pigment preferences of five master artists—and how easy it is to duplicate their palettes. Click here to order The Artist’s Magazine’s 2008 Annual CD for this, and more than 100 articles for instruction and inspiration.

Michael Skalka tests art materials and publishes a newsletter on the history of pigments, media and techniques. Chairman of ASTM International’s subcommittee on artist’s materials.

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