Saturday, February 6, 2016

All About Palettes!

Posted by: Kate

Oh Justin.  You're the best.  Here are two new videos about my palette--both the literal, wooden palette I hold, and the colour palette I use.  Now, scientists confirm I am a chatty Kathy, so even with brutal editing there is a lot of footage.  We broke it into two pieces so you can have a break to apply ointment to your pressure sores.

The large palette is a New Wave Expressionist palette.  I probably would have been happy with an unfinished one, since I redid the finish anyways.  If you're in Canada and bemoaning the death rattle in our dollar, order from ARTiculations in Toronto.  Oh, and let me tell you a story.  ARTiculations opened their doors about five minutes after Dave and I moved from Toronto, and they're located two minutes from our old house.  After I had to spend the prior SIX YEARS busing it to the nearest art supply store over an hour away, usually once a week, for supplies.  *shakes fist at the skies*

This next video is for a handful of people who have asked me a lot of questions about the colours I use, so I don't expect all twenty minutes of it to be universally fascinating.  But if you're interested in launching into Natural Pigments paints or were thinking about buying my paint set, this video will acquaint you with how I prepare my palette.  Many of the colours require some personalization before I use them.  You'll see in the video.

Of course, Dave being Dave, he has to sabotage the photo I took of his palette by sneaking in some lines of calcium carbonate and a razor blade.  Excellent.

So that mixing trick I do with the Lead White #2?  I just showed it to Dave the other day and then he went and painted the best damn satin and embroidery.  Great for flowing impastoes.  Hopefully that slacker posts a WIP of his latest painting soon.  Of course, I'd love to hear how my readers get their imapastoes, in the comments.

Here's the colour list:

Lead White #2
Chrome Yellow Light
Blue Ridge Yellow Ocher
Orange Ocher
Orange Molybdate
Alizarin Crimson
Cyprus Burnt Umber Warm
Cyprus Burnt Umber Dark
Ultramarine Blue
(Roman Black)
Bone Black


  1. Hi Kate,
    It's been awhile since I last commented here, but that does not mean I haven't been checking in almost weekly hoping to see a new post of yours or Davids. My comment is prompted by a question, but also a tip.

    First the question. I am assuming the tiny bits of color you place on your palette are for the demo purpose only. Is that correct, I know for my own use, I would use all of that dab of color in the first swipe of the brush on my panel. I know different styles of painting use paint differently,and are personal to each of us. But I was just wondering when seeing the larger bristle brush in the video.

    Now my tip is for the problem of pigment separation from the oil vehicle. Instead of using a paper towel,which lessens the percentage of oil as you mentioned, causing the need to add more oil. What I do is any tubes I open, particularly new tubes that may have been sitting in a warehouse of stock shelf for awhile, I stand them on their tops for a couple of days. Gravity, pulls the pigmemnt down into the oil. Since I almost never nee the new tubes immediately, I work with what I already have. By the time I need to get into the new tubes, they are ready and not separated from the oil. No messing with the correct percentage of oil to pigment or adding more oil. It works with older tubes that may have been laying in a paint drawer for awhile, also. I paint on oil primed panels for anything smaller than 24x36 and I rarely use any mediums. I like the feel of paint as it comes from the tube. Only exception to this is if I use a black (extremely rare), I do ad a small touch of a drying medium to help the black dry at about the same speed as other colors. I like your addition of dark umber though and next time I will use this technique. Thanks. Great videos and website............John Cox

    1. Hi John! I use very little paint when I paint. It's something people comment on a lot. The bonus is that I waste very little paint at the end of the day.

    2. Great suggestion on the oil separation, too! That's actually what NP recommends too. But I'm the sort of person who can't even remember to put the hair conditioner upside down for next time, so oh well.

    3. Do these newly found paints contain a dangerous level of life threatening pigments that you have to defended yourself by dressing in a full bio protection suit. Those black gloves are sending shrills of fear amongst your viewers!

  2. Thanks for sharing that, I always find the color palette and palettes interesting. As far as Dave and the lines of calcium carbonate (right..), that may be a cry for help, so if we need to put together some type of intervention just let me/us know.

    1. I'm sure the white stuff on his nose is just from all the powdered sugar donuts.

  3. Hi Kate, Thank you very much for sharing. I have learned quite a bit already.
    But I have a question: I just got a New Wave palette and it came with the special coating which makes cleaning easier.
    When you darkened your palette, did it have the special coating or did you order it without?
    I feel that if I darken it, whatever I put on will come right off! Or perhaps I should remove the special coating?

    1. Hi Rod, mine did have the special coating. I applied a coat of pure paint (Lead, black, umber) the first time around and sure enough, it wiped off beautifully after letting it dry for a week :P So the second time around I added alkyd medium to the mixture to make a faster and tougher drying paint layer. That worked. You could also lightly scuff the surface with some fine sandpaper to help the tone grip onto the surface, or you could leave the beautiful wood the way it is and let a natural patina develop over time. That's what Dave is doing with his. He's had his for ten months and it's starting to turn the same colour as mine now. His patina will be more attractive than mine in the long run because the wood grain is still visible. So many ways to go about it!

  4. New Wave palettes are fantastic! And I'll say that while I agree in general that rectangular palettes tend to be poorly balanced and uncomfortable to use, New Wave's rectangular palette is an exception. It's just as balanced and comfortable to hold as their other palettes. I also like the way they contour the thumb hole so that you don't end up with a wooden edge pressing into the back of your thumb. Their palettes are a little expensive, but worth it, IMHO.

    1. That's good to know! I love the look of rectangular palettes--the shape is perfect for an anal retentive lay out of colour strings. And yes, the palettes are totally worth it. I lend mine to students and friends and they always do the up-down arm flap routine the first time they hold it.

    2. There are two things that I really like about the Highland (their rectangular palette)--the thumb hole is basically at the top edge of the palette, which makes it easier to hold a mahl stick. I can hold the stick and the palette and rest my knuckles against my easel to stabilize both (that's trickier to do with palettes that extend up above the thumb hole). Also, because it's basically a rectangle, I often set it down in the tray of my easel, leaning back against the easel, when I want to free up my left hand.