The 'reduced' palette I took to Spain and Morocco.
Basically, it covered most of the spectrum with a few holes to work around...
Usually, the palette an artist develops is personal, often to the point of being idiosyncratic, and it is almost always in constant transition. So nothing I have to say about the outdoor palette will be along the lines of "you must have this color on it" or "you must not use that color". No, nothing like that at all. Rules suck and are seldom helpful in art so the principles I'll share will be time-tested and sound. You'll be able to apply them to your own color fetish.
Whoa there pardner, that's a lot of colors. Do you really need all that?
We will also have fun learning about Sargent's outdoor palette, Sorolla's outdoor palette, and Zorn's somewhat mythical reduced 4-color palette which has somehow achieved an exalted yet wishful status within the limited-palette crowd. (Hey folks, let me share a teaser: Zorn used blue, okay? Tubes of cobalt blue were found in his studio after his death. Plus, you can find it in his work. Don't believe everything your read on 'te internets'...)
But most importantly, we will focus on how to rapidly perceive and mix color on the fly. The most essential skill the outdoor painter can develop is the ability to recognize color without thinking about it. Whether you paint under the bright sun or under a looming cloud – or heck, in a bar – color is color.
Sargent's "Artist in the Studio"
Okay, so it's not en plein air but there is a beautiful palette in it!
Because, what every oil painter discovers the first time they drag their easel outdoors is that it isn't possible to capture the light they find there using paint – it's only possible to capture the effects of light using paint. This is an important distinction to make since only one is achievable. Therein lies the magic of a good outdoor palette. There really are a few tricks you can use...
I look forward to seeing you all at the Plein Air Convention. It will be a plein air flash mob but more. There will be good times, good friends, and some wonderful opportunities to learn something you didn't already know. Last year I picked up a sweet tip from Matt Smith from a throw away comment, and another about Sargent's watercolors from Richard Ormond, and there were others things as well.
There are a few spaces left if you want in on the fun!
Oh, and click here if you want to sign up for my April 3-day Carmel Plein Air Workshop immediately after the convention. If you are in town, why not stay a few extra days and paint in one of the most breath-taking areas of the world? And work on your palette?