Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Painting Moon Snails in a Limited Palette

On the sixth day, God created the artist, realizing no doubt that He had far from exhausted
the uses of color.
                                                                                                     ~ Robert Brault

Moon Snails with Coral - 5" x 7" oil on canvas

I've mentioned a few times over the years that I really enjoy working with limited palettes. Certainly I am often tempted to augment my colors when I see all the gorgeous paint choices at the art supply store, but I've managed to keep my palette hovering around 6 colors plus white for a while now. Generally I use a warm and a cool red, a warm and a cool yellow, and a warm and a cool blue to mix all the rest of my colors from. I've found that this method gives me nice color harmony in my work, with the added advantage of not having to dig through piles of tubes of paint trying to find a specialty color. I suppose I could also say I'm lazy in that with fewer colors, I don't have to remember as many combinations of which colors play nicely when mixed together and which tend to make mud.

Blocking in the shapes and values.

In this painting I only used 3 colors plus white to mix all my other colors from: alizarin crimson, winsor yellow, and ultramarine blue. This is certainly not a painting with a lot of flashy color; it's much more low chroma, but I like the subtlety. I plan on painting this set-up a few times, playing with different combinations of primaries to see how they affect the mood of the scene.

Detail from painting

Moon snails (a carnivorous gastropod with a craving for clams) are found around the world, but the particular species in my painting live along the Atlantic coast. These two shells are from wintertime visits to the New Jersey coast with dear friends of ours. We love beachcombing in winter. The heat and the throngs of people are gone, leaving us a wild and beautiful expanse of sand to explore.

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