Complimentry Palette

It's true that one can mix any color desired
by using the three primary colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue.
But have you ever try painting with 2 colors?

I never thought it was possible until I read this American Artist Article earlier in the week. I was intrigued by the notion that one could paint a seemingly full color painting using only 2 complimentary pigments. That would give you 3 palette possibilities: Red/Green, Blue/Orange, and Yellow/Purple.


"Three Onions"
(Orange/Blue Palette)
Joyce Washor

“Using only two families of color (complementary colors) will naturally give your paintings strength and harmony,”
says Joyce Washor in her book Big Art, Small Canvas: Paint Easier, Faster, and Better With Small Oils

Another benefit to this technique is stated in the article: "Complementary palettes are effective for creating rich color because colors appear most vibrant when placed next to their complements."

Just as there are benefits we can also come across some limitations (as can be expected) with the limited palette technique. Granted those who use this method find that there are some colors that just can't be as vibrant as a premixed tube from the store. For instance, "with a red/green palette, a truly vibrant blue is not possible."




Still Life of Egg and Glass
(Red/Green Palette)
Jacob Stevens

"One of the biggest challenges artists face with this palette is training their eyes to see the subtle nuances in color temperature and intensity."

Well, I'm game for trying this out at least once. Apparently it may take more than one painting to get the hang of it as the limitations are deceptively intricate It did take Washor a couple years before she started feeling comfortable with the technique. But hey, I'm up for spending less money on those fancy oil pigments.


Have you attempted a limited palette of primaries or compliments?
Let us know how it goes!


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