My palette is like an extension of my arm. Like a surgeon reaching for a tool, I want to organize my palette in a way that allows me to paint with familiarity and skill. I decided, therefore, to organize my palette to represent the color wheel and value scale. The first part was easy; I organized the pastels by color families, beginning with the family of yellow on the left and working my way across to green. Then I organized by value, placing the lightest value at the top of the palette—because light lifts—and the darkest value at the bottom, creating weight. Then, off I went. And paint I did!
Over time I evaluated my finished pastel paintings and came to the conclusion that I really like color—a lot! So, after giving it considerable thought, I decided what was missing in my color selection was sensitivity to chroma, which is the relative intensity or weakness of an individual color. There are plenty of weaker colors in every color family, which I had placed in their family of origin within the palette. Because of “simultaneous contrast” (refer to my previous post), these colors appear grayer and weaker when compared to the brighter tones. As a result, they were often overlooked. We all like the “eye candy” and are drawn to the bright luscious hues that lay before us. Me too. Given the choice, I would select one of the brighter tones, unconsciously filling my paintings with overly saturated colors—making for a garish finished result.
To prevent this, I decided to segregate these weaker colors (what I refer to now as the “neutrals”) to the far right side of the palette, thus allowing them to cohabitate among their kindred weaker tones. It was only then that I truly saw the potential waiting in each stick.
Like that surgeon, I continue to hone my skills and hopefully more patients will survive!