Historic Plein Air Painting Palettes

By Michael Chesley Johnson

We’re fortunate to have a record of what historic painters have used on their outdoor palettes. Below are the plein air palettes of Edgar Payne, Homer Winslow and Emile Gruppé.

Edgar Payne (from Composition of Outdoor Painting by Edgar Payne)
• Hooker’s Green
• Cadmium Yellow Light
• Cadmium Red Light
• Van Dyke Brown
• Alizarin Crimson
• Indian Red (Red Ochre)
• Indian Yellow
• Ultramarine Blue
• Payne’s Gray
Note: Although white was not listed by Edgar Payne, he probably included it on his palette. —mcj

Winslow Homer (from Winslow Homer: A Portrait by Jean Gould)
• Yellow Ochre
• Red Ochre
• Permanent Blue (modern replacement: Ultramarine Blue)
• Raw Sienna
Note: Although white was not listed by Jean Gould, Winslow Homer probably included it on his palette. —mcj

Emile Gruppé (from Gruppé on Painting: Direct Techniques in Oil by Emile Gruppé)
• Cadmium Lemon Yellow
• Cadmium Yellow Deep
• Cadmium Orange
• Cadmium Red Deep
• Ultramarine Blue
• Phthalo Blue
• Rose Madder Deep
• Zinc White

If you’re interested in other palette possibilities, both plein air and studio, click here to check out the Gamblin website section “Exploring Color Palettes.”
Also, check out the article “Pick a Plein Air Palette” by Michael Chesley Johnson in the May 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.
Click here to order a print version of the May 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.
Click here to order a digital download of the May 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.


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