Viewer, Marlene Ford’s asked, “Do you have a basic palette that you do most of your work with?”

And I sure do! In this video I share my favorite 13 colors, the basic double primary palette and convenience colors, that are at the core of everything I paint.

Thank you for joining me today. And if you’d like to connect with other awesome painters, be sure to join me on our live ART / WORK Sessions calls. Just sign up to be notified at marygilkerson.com/sessions.

And if there’s anything else you want to know about palette essentials, please leave me a comment below.


My basic palette colors.

Colors on My Palette:

Double Primaries: Fanchon Red, Carl’s Crimson, Indian Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Phtalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Flake White Replacement

Convenience Colors: Egyptian Violet, Italian Terre Verte, Cinnabar Green Light, Permanent Green, Monserrat Orange, Italian Green Ochre


Why You Should Use the Double Primary Palette

Selecting Basic Painting Colors and Materials

What About the Paint?

Video Transcript:

Mary Gilkerson: Welcome to the artwork session podcast for painters and artists, just like you, who are ready to take their art, art, marketing, and online art sales to the next step. I’m Mary Gilkerson and I help painters create and grow their art marketing and online art business. And each month I host two live zoom artwork sessions calls, where I collaborate with artists from around the globe each week.

One of those questions and the answer from those live calls and share that with you here on the podcast, you’ll get concrete tips, ideas, and strategies that you can put to work today. So if you’re ready to fill in the gaps in your painting practice and your online art business and get the answers you’ve been looking for, jump aboard, welcome to the art work sessions podcast.

I’m going to go to Marlene Ford. If you’ll unmute yourself. Hello?

Marlene Ford: Hello.

Mary Gilkerson: How are you doing?

Marlene Ford: I’m fine. Enjoying your. Your wisdom.

Mary Gilkerson: Awesome. I’m glad it’s helpful. So do you want to read your question for us?

Marlene Ford: The first one was about the palette. I have taken a few art classes. I didn’t start painting until I was 65. And I’ve taken a few art classes and every artist has their own requirement for paints to the point that I ended up confused. Sometime when I go to do a landscape scene, what greens do I use?

What blues do I use and that, and I really love your work. I was wondering, do you have a basic palette that you do most all your work with?

Mary Gilkerson: Yeah, I did. And I have a basic one that I use with my students too. That’s the double primary palate. Okay. So when I’m teaching, I usually start off with a really limited palette because from the double primary palette, you can mix everything else.

So it creates the full color wheel, which then gives you the potential to mix everything else. And after people learn how to mix, and I see some of my students like Joan, I see you right there. You’re right in front of me. Joan can tell you, yeah. Do begin to add in convenience colors after that, so convenience colors are ones that are already all mixed up.

And there’s some of those that I use all the time too, but one of the things that helps me keep it simple is that I do paint outside a lot. And I have a rule for myself that all of the paint that I take outside has to fit into the wooden cigar box that I’ve carried paint outside in for 10, 12 years.

And if it won’t fit in there, I can’t. So I can’t get myself confused with having too many things, but I did tend to use it all centers around that double primary palate. So there’s a warm red and a cool red, a warm blue and a cool blue, a warm yellow, and a cool yellow and white. And then I’ll throw in a couple of other extras that I like to work with.

Marlene Ford: Yeah. I’ve seen your videos and taken notes on them. Looking for that basic cause we’re, it affects me as in my paintings is that I’ll start a painting and then put it aside and let it dry. And then I go back. And early on, I wasn’t taking notes on what greens I was using. Listen, I’ve done more paintings because there’s no harmony.

It takes the whole harmony out of it.

Mary Gilkerson: Yeah. And I’ve realized a long time ago that if I mix the color that I really love and I need to write down what I mixed, get it and put it in my sketchbook because I won’t remember the next day, if it’s something that’s brand new. But the beauty of using a more limited palette, not having too much stuff out is that it’s easier to figure it out.

Yeah. So that’s where it does help. Yeah. And I have the list of colors that’s in the basic palette on my website. Yeah. I went searching because that was something I knew I needed to do. And it’s a shame. I have a whole drawer full. Paints from every class I’ve ever taken. And then you use those again and you can use them up, but it helps to understand color if you simply shrink down for a little while and get really familiar with those colors and then it gets easier to build it out.

Okay. Did you find the list of the double primary palette?

Marlene Ford: Yeah. I’m following you for awhile and found you, quite learned and helpful to someone like myself in my late seventies now. And I, and I find it so wonderful. To do this, even if it’s on a hobby level, painting is a wonderful activity.

Mary Gilkerson: It stretches your brain. It calms your mind. And on top of it, it gets your creative juices flowing.

The convenience colors that I use almost all the time are things like Italian Terra, they’re from Williamsburg. And I really love the Montserrat orange from Williamsburg.

It’s a pinky coral color. It’s great for taking the edge off of greens that are out of the tube. I use cinnabar green light a good bit. Occasionally permanent green light. Those are pretty much it. As far as the ones that I’m going to carry outside. Okay. But I have a whole pile over there on the table.

And what I did after the last painting challenge that we did in the free group was I went online and ordered a whole bunch of paint from Vasari because I’ve gone down the rabbit hole with some of the colors that they’ve got. So that’ll be in blog posts in the future. But yeah, I’m still, I still acquisition all kind of paint tubes.

So don’t think I don’t know if you all can see the table over there. Yeah. Yeah. That’s just a part of what I got, but that’s what I keep in the studio. I don’t haul all that stuff outside. It’s just too much because I want to be able to walk or hike when I’m painting. And if the more stuff you have, the heavier it gets and the more you drop stuff along the way.

So I don’t want to shed it, but I’m glad that’s helpful and glad that you’re painting. Everybody should have a creative outlet. What’s inside out into the world. Yeah. Oscar allows you to see colors. Like I look at things differently, but when I look at a sky and when I think about where I started and how elementary it was and to where I am today, it’s really opened the world up to me in ways that I know.

Imagined real. That’s a really good point. And it’s something I share with students all the time. Is that the more you look, the more you’re going to see, and the more you see you’re the more you’re going to see, because, we all see color a little bit differently. We have each of us has a different number of color bars that are in our, basically in our eyes that perceive color.

And that’s why some people are color blind and some people are not, they don’t have the receptors for that color. And it’s one reason we all see it just slightly differently. But I’m convinced at least up to a point that you can develop the color bars that you have. So they perceive more because I’ve noticed that people, the more they observe, the more they’re able to observe, just like you’re saying.

Cool. Thank you for asking that question.

Marlene Ford: Thank you for answering it.

Thank you for joining me today. And if you’d like to connect with other awesome painters, be sure to join me on our live artwork sessions calls. Just sign up to be notified at marygilkerson.com/sessions. Happy painting everybody. Bye bye for now.

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