Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Adding Phthalo Blue To The Palette

Adding Phthalo

9x8 oil on black canvas
Work in Progress.

A more decorative style painting
with a brighter palette.

Artist Note.

This is a demo of the same limited palette
as in the last two posts
but replacing
Ultramarine Blue with Phthalo Blue
Alizarin Perm with Magenta.

First, I paint right on the front of 
the clear glass jug 
with my Phthalo blue and then a
bit of the yellow  to make it greener
for another layer in the middle.
Why?...because I didn't
have anything in the right color
large enough to hold the peonies.
Painted front of a clear glass jug

A quick block-in
This is not going to work but I did not 
know it yet. The changes I ended up
making are pretty obvious.

See a few of the new color charts below.
This is still based on the previous 
limited palette but replacing the 
Ultra blue and Alizarin.
Sometimes, what you need/want to paint
cannot be managed with just one
limited palette. 
If you are painting near the coast for 
example, the aqua of the water
will need a green/blue.

Lively spring greens have a freshness
which the red in the Ultramarine blue
neutralizes too much. 

To make clear purples the Phthalo needs 
a cooler red than the Alizarin so a substitute
with the Magenta works perfectly.

Cad Yellow light
Phthalo Blue
Titanium White

Of the two limited palettes the majority
of artists making them preferred this one.
Most likely because we live in a very sunny climate
with lots of Turquoise and earth colors.
They also found that different brands make
different results.


  1. Stunning! I love the turquoise vase. Sometimes I cannot put my finger on exactly what draws me to a beautiful piece of art.... I'm just so drawn to this!!

    1. We both like turquoise - I saw your beautiful edge on turquoise on your blue vase, great touch. You are a colorist indeed and your work has a lot of emotion.

  2. I love watching you try new things and hearing about your thoughts on the process. I think the painting is beautiful; the actual glass vase/pitcher is stunning! You painted on that first to get the right color? Amazing way to approach, Julie!

    1. I paint lots of thing to get the right color. Especially fruit!
      The glass is so easy to wash off - its the porous objects that I have to be careful with.
      Happy you got a job in accounting. Hope the hours leave you time for painting.

  3. I am so with you on this one! I adapt my palette just as you suggest to reflect whatever the subject demands. The importance of knowing your hues and making color charts can't be understated! It's fun to discover what everything does in combination. And what beautiful results you achieved. Crisp and clean and clear. Very nice:)

    1. Your "crisp, clean and clear" reflects your wonderful new series of exploration into simplifying the landscape with shapes of color. I have been an admirer from the start.

    2. Always great having you on my side:)

  4. Fabulous bright colors and those petals are so perfect , a painting that really speaks to me !

    1. thank you, Jane. Your colors are always so vibrant and they speak to me too.

  5. Really appreciate your sharing these limited palette exercises! Just shows you what you can achieve with fewer colors to start. Makes color seem not so overwhelming when it simplified with a limited palette.

    1. True - I agree. I also think it is the color harmony which is easier to achieve with a limited palette.
      CONGRATULATIONS on achieving signature status with your watercolor.. Not easy. I like what you wrote about rejection very much

  6. LOVE your color selections...Kudos to you! It is a STUNNING work of ART!

    1. The same comment is returned to you on your new collage, :ove the colors and the Moroccan feeling.

  7. All colors enchant me... they are for painter as the words for writer, and notes for musician.

    Studying our means of expression is an activity that enriches the work, it is never lost time, even if it takes time to analyze the variations of the palettes, the interactions of colors for mixes or color contrast.

    I am happy to follow your experienced thoughts, even if watercolor pigments works differently maybe for some aspects, for many aspects, pigments that you explain so well and their characteristics correspond in all techniques.
    Your vibrant peonies tells me a charming and joyful color history.

    ( I had always difficult manage Alizarin Crimson.... at least , I find new brand of this color helped me to overcome problem, so amazing as " color" with same name, performes,sometime, so different in various brand.)

    1. Thanks for taking the time to engage with me on this, Rita. Everything you said is true. It does not matter what the media is - color harmony principles are the same and important.
      I agree about Alizarin but found a brand I really can work with.

  8. Tell me about it! Limited palettes are very curious. I've started out with color restrictions, but inevitably always ran into exceptions. Different subjects, different lighting situations dictate the palette--also desired effects. I am in the process of quieting down a brilliant Aqua with the red in ultramarine. A portrait shouldn't scream. Love where you are now with this lovely bouquet. I look forward to the finish. You look close.

    1. I checked the aqua you calmed down and I understand completely why. Nice job.
      Your drawing is strong as always but the way you captured her hair really caught my eye.

  9. I love the color charts almost as much as the painting. Experimenting and mixing paint can entertain me for hours on end. Who needs TV I ask?

    1. You did a wonderful color chart, Blanche. I agree it is fascinating mixing and learning color.
      PS... I listen to tv more than watch it.

  10. What a lovely painting! You've done so well using your limited colors. My hat's off to you for using the pthalo instead of ultramarine. It's such a strong color, albeit beautiful, that it can be easy to overdo it in a mix.

    1. Hi Diana, thanks - the blue is a little bright for me. I had to neutralize this quite a lot to get it where it didn't take over the whole painting. I know that it will not be on my regular palette.
      How nice of you to offer the cherry paintings as a Valentines gift. Both of them are really special.

  11. Blues are currently giving me the blues. But you are certainly making happier music. Thanks for all the info, it really is useful for newbies like me.

    Have you tried mixing fluid acrylics with heavy bodied acrylics? I'm still experimenting ... but the jury's still out.

    As usual your painting is absolutely gorgeous

    1. Your wonderful wit always shines through, John.
      I grinned reading about you mixing the fluid acrylics with the heavy bodied ones. it just doesn't happen easily for sure. Can't imagine why you would want to try. Both have different purposes.
      Waiting to see the next step on your portrait.

  12. Replies
    1. And I thank you for saying that, Myra.
      Pretty yellow dress you posted today. I love the beautiful flowing lines you made.

  13. Amazing painting, amazing palette. the vase is color and texture. I have enjoyed the limited palette studies you've done immensely. The integration of your colors throughout the painting is so lovely. Very harmonious.

    1. Hi Carol, I have been thinking about you and wondering how your husband is doing. Sending warm wishes for continual good results from rehab.
      Pleased you have enjoyed the limited palette studies. I have as well, but know I will not have Phthalo on my regular palette. I cannot control it.

  14. Beautiful palette Julie! The turquoise is lovely. This is an interesting palette with wonderful harmony.

    1. Thanks Karen...talking about a beautiful palette. I truly love the color you have made for the sheep's wool/coat.

  15. Love your solution for the 'right' container, and color palette!

    1. Hi Roseanne, Thanks for the visit and glad you liked the solution of painting the container. I genuinely liked your still life with the fracturing. Your personal taste in color is special.

  16. Replies
    1. Thank YOU, Carleen. Love the selection of paintings for your exhibit. Know it will be very successful. Congratulations.

  17. The painting sings and I am sure the palette ( and your beautiful strokes) is the reason. I love the liveliness. It is very present. I have magenta but do not use it enough. And what brand alizarin do you use? I am not fond of the gambln, too juicy. And otherwise I only use their products. Love seeing your work, love sharing. Abstracts posted tomorrow!

    1. Thanks for the nice complement, Helen.
      I used Quinacridone Magenta and I think it is Gamblins. It is a very slow dryer so I will not be keeping it on my palette. Grumbacher has one which is not transparent and I like that better.
      I like your still life influenced by Morandi and will look forward to your abstract tomorrow.

  18. A beautiful arrangement, Julie. The colors on the flowers and vase are absolutely outstanding!

  19. Ah - sweet Hilda - thanks for the lovely complement. Looking forward to your next painting.

  20. I'm so impressed with your understanding of color mixing. But... (sigh) it makes me realize how little I know about it! Your paintings are exquisite, and your seriousness about your art is very evident!


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