Sunday, June 15, 2008

Palette Notes

I'd like to say that my palette is all sooper limited and all that, but I guess at this point it's become almost a combination of the four artists who I've studied under (hehehe, and in this case I'm counting having "studied" under Jeremy Lipking after just watching his demo DVD:) (the other three teachers are Yuqi Wang, Juan Martinez and Kevin Gorges) So yeah, now I've basically got the palette you see here.

I mix a bit of white into each colour with a palette knife, creating a “string” of colour tints, with the exception of Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber. I use these colours mostly in the shadow areas, and white tends to make them too opaque and “chalky” looking.

If you're interested in how this palette “came to be”... it started with Juan Martinez in Toronto, ON. He taught me about the “strings,” which are useful because then you have both a lighter and darker - as well as an opaque and a more transparent version - of each colour. He didn’t use many blues and greens though, or the Burnt Sienna, all of which I took off my palette for a while after taking his workshops. He introduced me to the red oxides as well as the Yellow Ochre Pale. He also convinced me to give up the way of the impressionists and start using black on my palette for the first time in my life.

Next I studied under Yuqi Wang in Santa Fe, NM. He favors a more colourful palette, and although I still tend to lean towards more greyed down colours, seeing him paint beautifully with Flesh Ochre, Prussian blue and Egyptian Violet, made me just have to add them to my palette as well (for VERY restricted use).

Also, while I was in Santa Fe, I took classes with Kevin Gorges, who studied at the Florence Academy of Art, so he worked with a VERY restricted palette. He didn’t even use Cadmium Yellow, instead he used Naples Yellow - so onto the palette that went, but I kept the Cadmium Yellow on too.

Now, most recently, I bought myself Jeremy Lipking’s demo DVD, and was surprised by how much you can learn from a DVD! I guess after studying with all these masters in real life, I just never would have thought a DVD could come close to being as good, but actually I have realllyy found that it has improved my painting so much. After watching the Jeremy Lipking DVD I remembered something that I had kinda heard before - that Alizarin Crimson is not really all that permanent:( So now I’m using Alizarin Permanent, I’ve also added burnt sienna back onto my palette. It's an old favorite that I used all the time in my landscapes (Phil Craig loves it too!) then i removed it from my palette after adding all those red oxides. But yeah, seeing Jeremy Lipking use it brought back memories of how much I used to like it, and I stuck it back on. I still have burnt umber too (and sometimes even some other Umbers, like Green Umber), and, as you can see, I’ve started mixing up his “magic” mixture of Ultramarine, Titanium white and Alizarin Permanent (a light blue, slliigghhtly purply mixture)

heheh I basically have a phobia of purple! As in “Do I see Pink and Purple!?” of my Spumco days (John K would look at my background paintings for the new Ren and Stimpy and if he said that, he wouldn’t even look at them;) Also associated with purple is the dreaded “old man syndrome” where by artists as they age sometimes go through a period where they want to “jazz up” their work and purple is always prominent in their art. BUT, instead I have bluey green syndrome, where I’m too afraid to use purple, and I make everything less grey purple then it is! So yeah, I started mixing up that “magic” colour of Jeremy Lipking’s and wow, it is making all the difference in my painting!! I mix it into my flesh tones a lot, and it keeps them from getting crazy saturated. It’s also so great for cooling the tones as they recede, and warp around the edges of the form. Actually, the lemon yellow is an addition I made after the DVD as well. Before I would only use it if I reaallly required it (which I only ever did once, when I was actually painting lemons), but now I see that it can mix quite nicely with the blue mixture, and some cad red or orange to make nice skin tones!


Vanwall said...

Ah, I see where the inner glow in your work comes from; watch the heavy metals, tho. Nice glimpse into the basics of your visions.

Hobo Divine said...

How do you feel about the broken pallette?

And the combination of warm colours with cool colours to make shadows for outdoor lighting and indoor lighting?

Kristy Gordon said...

... you mean when you drop your palette and break it? I hate it when that happens! heheh, just kidding:( what is a "broken palette?" Yeah, and about warm and cool colours... for sure, they're great! It's neat how often if your highlights are warm, the shadows will be cool, and if you're painting a model with cool highlights, often the shadows appear warm!!

Yeah, and that's also true about the heavy metals... I wear gloves when i paint, but I also sometimes think about replacing the cadmiums and the Naples Yellow that are on my palette with something less toxic;)

Hobo Divine said...


I don't know the technical term but... I heard Broken palette like a colour containing it's complementary.
That is too say...
If a green was made up with a cool yellow and a warm blue.
The green has red in it!

I noticed a lot of title cards for Hanna Barbera did this all the time.
They would have a red background with yellow lettering.
But the Yellow would be a cool yellow... so it was the hint of green in the yellow that made it appear to pop out on the red background.
And the red would be leaning towards the blue spectrum which tonally also helped the yellow to pop out.

It's amazing the different effects you can receive with colour alone!

It boggles the mind..

Kristy Gordon said...

Ooooh, YEAHHHH!! For sure!! In fact, for awhile I was kinda conflicted about the issue of mixing warm colours with cool colours, especially like to make up darks and stuff! I wasn't sure if it made them muddy or not. Actually, the question today remains a bit of an issue for me, and has a looong history in my mind...

When i started i used no black on my palette, and made my darks with brown and blue.

Then, at Spumco, Johnny would talk about mixing "related" colours - no blue and brown (too muddy!) But he did also talk about some of the other colour theories that you're asking about here, Jamie... like using complimentary colours, and warm and cool versions of colours (he really liked it when a large area, say of yellow, is made of of kinda like three sorta shades of yellow, a greeny yellow, an orangy yellow and the base yellow. Anywayyyy... so i kinda struggled away worrying about mixing related colours and not making things look dirty or muddy...

I thought I had figured it all out when i added black to my palette in Juan's course, figuring black was "related" - like mixing brown with red - to the blues and I could mix black and brown into the reds...

Annywaay, now I am getting all into mixing things like Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine, which I saw Jeremy Lipking doing it in his demo DVD, and Alizarin Crimson (oops, I mean Permanent - hehe, still making the switch) with Sap Green (learned about that nifty combo from Kevin Gorges) Hope that helps:)

Peggi Habets Studio said...

Great post Kristy. Thanks for showing your colors and mixes. My palette starts out kinda looking like that but after about an hour of painting, it's just a big mess. Your work is wonderful, so full of expression and mood. I've thought about purchasing that Lipking dvd but always hesitated because it's very expensive. It's good to hear feedback on it.

Tony Perrotta said...

kristy, I am curious about the strings you make up on your palette. You do mix up seperate piles of paint, or do you keep them as pictured. I paint with the Dumond palette, which I am sure you have heard of.

Thanks Tony P, NJ

Kristy Gordon said...

Hi Tony!

Yeah, I do end up with different piles of paint in the middle area of the palette while I'm painting. Things like a base flesh colour at the beginning end up as a big pool of paint, which eventually is a big gradating pile (some parts getting cooler, some redder and some yellower from all the mixing:)

Yeah, the DuMond palette seems like a good one too;)

Anonymous said...


Lee said...

Hi Kristy

Just wondering, was the Jeremy Lipking demo dvd that you bought the one which features his wife with the hoop earring? That's the only one I can find of his. If it was, does he continue to paint the rest of her or only the face?

Thanks very much.

Kristy Gordon said...

Hi Lee, yup, it's the one where he paints his wife with the earring. It's mostly a portrait shot of her, but he does complete the painting and does an amazing job!


Hi Kristy the palette photography is not wide and the colors are not clear, son 21? ... thank you very much