Save Money With A Limited Palette

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If you’ve decided you want to learn to paint but don’t have a lot to spend, one easy way to reduce your costs is to start out with a minimal selection of paints.

Whether you’ve decided on oil paints, acrylics or watercolors, you don’t need every color in the rainbow to begin your new venture. There’s so much to absorb about the basics of your chosen medium that learning the characteristics and interactions of a zillion colors can be overwhelming.

Start With The Primary Colors:

You can truly start with the three primary colors and add just a couple of extras to round out your set. If you’re painting with oil or acrylic, you’ll want to add a tube of white, and perhaps one of black. Some artists, however, don’t use black and just mix a very dark hue from other colors on their palette.

You may want to add Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna to round out your set, as they act as neutral colors and are useful for blending many shades.

Extended Or Split Primary Palette

Colors may be either warm or cool. A set of primary colors can be Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red and Pthalo Blue. An alternate set is Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine Blue.

When your budget allows and you’ve learned about color mixing, add a second set of primary colors to your first set. It’s only three colors, but with that additional trio, you’ll be able to make loads of colors you were unable to create with a single primary set.


Warm Reds:

Pyrrol Red, Napthol Red, Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Scarlet are all warm reds as they have a more orange cast.

Cool Reds:

Cool reds, which are purple biased, include Alizarin Crimson, Carmine, Pyrrol Crimson, Perylene Crimson and Permanent Red Deep.


Warm Yellows:

Warm yellows lean toward orange on the spectrum. They include Hansa Yellow Deep, New Gamboge, Cadmium Yellow Deep and Indian Yellow.

Cool Yellows:

Lemon Yellow, Hansa Yellow Light, Cadmium Yellow Light, Bismuth Yellow, and Aureolin Yellow are all cool colors that lean toward the green spectrum.


Warm Blues:

Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Indanthrone Blue, Winsor Blue (red shade) have undertones of red or violet.

Cool Blues:

Pthalo Blue, Prussian Blue, Cerulean, Manganese and Windsor Blue are all cool blues that have a green bias.

Supplementary Colors:

There are a few colors that add tremendously to your palette, as they are colors you can’t make from your primary trio. Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna aren’t primary colors, but they expand your color combinations exponentially. They also aren’t expensive as some other paints, which are made with far more expensive pigments.

Give yourself time to acquaint yourself with the characteristics of each paint and experiment with blending the different hues into as many colors as you can.

It’s a good idea to make up color charts so that you can record your findings. These charts are a simple way to keep track of your color ‘recipes,’ and you’ll find yourself using them a lot.

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